She sat in a nearly empty coffee shop, sipping her now-cold coffee (two sugars, no cream, of course). Her eyes followed walking strangers outside the shop’s window. Snow was falling in gentle flurries, painting the scene in a sweet, fairytale-esque light. Various colored lights lit up the square, glinting off of the fallen snow. The large Christmas tree, sitting at fifteen feet high, sat in the middle of the square, decorated gaudily with red and gold ornaments covering every possible inch. She could see two ornaments, white instead of red or gold. One said Anna, and the other said Hazel. Anna glinted in the soft Christmas time lights, her angel wings spread wide.
People walked around the square, flitting in and out of shops and surrounding the tree, putting presents under it. The presents put under the tree, she knew, would be donated to the orphanage for the children to enjoy. She had put six or seven under the tree just before she entered the coffee shop, each one labeled for a child named Blakely.
She sighed and set her cold coffee on the shiny surface of the table. It was two a.m. on Christmas day. Everyone in the world was happily skipping along, ecstatic for Christmas. Everyone except for her. Her eyes scrunched closed against her will, and a shuddering sigh escaped her lips.
It was past time for the coffee shop she hid in to close, but the guy, no more than seventeen, manning the register pitied her too much to tell her to leave. He knew she’d been through hell. The whole town knew it. Such a tragedy so long ago, only a week before Christmas, and the town knew it haunted her every year.
She continued to stare out the window, watching a multitude of lovers pass, holding each others’ hands and staring into each others’ eyes. One couple, in particular, caught her eye. Two females sitting in a car that was parked on the shoulder of the road, holding their gazes, looking at each other with pure love shining in their eyes. The driver, with long red hair and striking green eyes, leaned towards her passenger, a petite woman with long honey hair. The coffee-shop girl, running her hand through her own honey hair, knew the girl in the passenger seat had warm hazel eyes even though she couldn’t see them. She continued to watch the couple in the car. The beautiful redhead continued to lean in close to the blonde and pressed a gentle kiss against her lips. The blonde wrapped her arms around the redhead and smiled through their kiss.
The redhead pulled away from the blonde and smiled at her softly. She pushed her lover’s honey hair out of her face and pressed a soft peck against her cheek. She took the car out of park and pulled onto the road. While crossing the tracks, she pulled her eyes away from the road and turned towards her lover. Her lover’s face turned quickly from love to fear. A light brightened her face and reflected off of her eyes, making her look more beautiful than she already was. She began shouting something, her hazel eyes wide and filling with tears. Too late, the redhead realized, the track arms were broken and a train was barreling towards them. She slammed on the gas, but it was inevitable. In a feeble attempt to save her lover, she threw open the passenger-side door and shoved her out. The blonde went tumbling and scrambled onto the side of the track. The train slammed into their small car. Pieces of the car flew like shrapnel from an exploding grenade and buried themselves into the blonde. Her left shoulder and side were torn apart, nearly to bone, and bleeding freely, but she was numb to it. She watched the driver’s side of the car, her lover inside, flatten against the train’s head, then succumb to the momentum of the train and fly forward, cutting flips down the track. The train stopped, the conductor having pulled the emergency stop as soon as he realized there was a car on the track. But it stopped too late. The redhead was gone.
A train horn sounded throughout the town. The blonde in the coffee shop jumped, knocking her cup off of the table. It shattered against the linoleum floor, sending cold coffee scattering. She shook her mind out of the memory and met her hazel eyes in the faint reflection in the coffee shop window. She watched herself for a few seconds, then focused her gaze back outside of the window. Her eyes found the couple in the car again. It wasn’t the redhead and her lover like she had imagined. It was a brown-haired male and his brunette girlfriend. He was saying something the blonde couldn’t hear with a sheepish grin on his face. The brunette cocked her head adorably to the side like a confused puppy. The male dug around nervously in his jacket pocket, then began running his hand through his hair in frustration and hit the steering wheel. The brunette laughed and lifted something into the air. The coffee-shop blonde could imagine her saying something cheeky, something like Looking for this? as she held whatever the male was searching for. Even from the window, the blonde could see the sparkling diamond ring pinched between her fingers.
The male smiled sheepishly at his girlfriend and ruffled his hair. He cocked his head to the side and said something to his girlfriend, which the blonde knew as a marriage proposal thanks to the sparkling ring, and his girlfriend jumped excitedly and nodded so much that she looked like the bobble-headed pitt bull knick-knack sitting on the dashboard.
The blonde sighed and looked away, looking at her mess on the floor. She didn’t have the energy to clean it. Her right hand lifted and wrapped itself around her left shoulder, and she fingered the raised flesh there. The scar was ugly, taking up a third of her shoulder, but she refused to cover it. She wore the scar openly as a reminder of her girlfriend. Her hand drifted down to her waist, and she felt the scar under her shirt that took up her entire left side. Tears filled her eyes and flowed down her cheeks, dripping onto the table. She leaned forward and put both of her hands on the table in front of her, hanging her head low. Her necklace slipped from under her shirt and angled freely in the air. She stared at the ring hanging on the chain silently, tears still falling from her eyes. The heart-shaped diamond caught the light and sparkled in fragmented rainbows. She let out a depressed chuckle.
A cold hand wrapped itself around one of hers, and she looked up from the ring. A woman sat across from her, her red hair falling over her shoulder and her green eyes staring hauntingly at her. A pink flush danced across her pale, translucent skin. Her featured were dimmed in death, but she was still beautiful to the blonde. The redhead smiled at the blonde and grasped her hand tighter.
“I see you’ve found it,” she whispered to the blonde with a sad smile, watching the diamond ring.
“I found it under your pillow,” the blonde replied with the same sad tone.
“I used to twist it in my fingers under that pillow every night, trying to think of the perfect way to give it to you,” the redhead chuckled. “How is little Blakely?”
“He’s doing great. He’s been getting better with his art, and don’t even get me started on his guitar!” the blonde responded, chuckling.
“Are you still going to adopt him?” The redhead whispered.
The blonde nodded wordlessly. After a few seconds, she whispered back, “Soon.”
The blonde smiled sadly. “I’m so sorry, Hazel. I’m so sorry I’m not here anymore.” Hazel reached up and tried to brush the red hair out of her lover’s face, but her hand passed through her. Hazel dropped her hand and dropped her gaze to the table, brushing the tears from her face.
The cashier watched as Hazel lifted her hand to the empty air in front of her, then drop it on the table and wipe her face of tears with a crushed look in her eyes.
“I miss you, Anna. I love you,” he heard Hazel whisper to the empty seat across from her. The cashier walked from behind the counter and went up to her. He grabbed her hand from off the table and gently pulled her up.
“C’mon, Hazel. Let’s bring you home,” he spoke gently. She stood up and curled into him, sobbing.
“I miss her, John. I miss her. So mu-ch!” she whispered brokenly, a sob shattering the end of her sentence. John whispered soothing noises into her ear as he guided her to the door, avoiding stepping into the mess of broken mug and spilled coffee. Hazel stared at the mess on the floor, and John followed her gaze.
“Don’t worry about that. I’ll clean it tomorrow when I open up.”
Hazel moved her gaze from the mess and stared at the seat across from the one she previously occupied. Her eyes met Anna’s. Anna blew a kiss towards her and held up one hand, making half of a heart with it. Hazel held up her hand, making the other half, and Anna smiled lovingly. Hazel blinked her eyes, and Anna was no longer there. She tore her gaze away from the empty seat and let John guide her out of the coffee shop doors.
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