Chapter 6 | An Old Friend
Elizabeth faced herself to the man that stood before her. On her face, a surprised grin light up.
“Hayden! It’s been so long.” She casually said to the old friend before her.
“Hey, El. It sure has. What have you been up to?”
Hayden sat in one of the chairs across from her while he casually wiped his hands on the black half apron he wore.
“I’m trying to make my dreams come true. In the middle right now of editing the novel I’ve made.” She then showed Hayden the manuscript in her hands by facing the pile towards him. He marveled at the clipped pieces of paper, “That’s a lot to handle.” He admired.
“Well, how about you? Do you work here?”
“I own this place.” Hayden leaned back against the chair and smirked. Elizabeth widened her eyes in shock, admiration clear on her face. “Wow, it’s wonderful. ”
“Thank you, now try the cake and tell me how it is.” He smiled while Elizabeth took a small forkful of the soft cheesecake in front of her. As soon as she got a bite, she was very surprised by how the flavor of blackberry suited the smooth cheese cake it topped. “I get why you call it your signature cake.”
“Made it myself.”
“Never knew you had a knack for baking, you were always so... sporty.”
“There’s a lot you don’t know about me El, the first time we met was in high school and after two years, you moved.”
Hayden was right. They only knew each other for a little while. They were both so young back then, walking around, becoming friends. As Elizabeth saw Hayden now, he certainly grew up well. She thought back then he was handsome, with very minimal chestnut streaks in his brown hair which was was mesmerizing to look at and deep brown eyes. He was cute back then with high yet chubby cheeks complete with dimples in his smile.
Yet, now he was truly blessed by age. As he lost his cheeks and gained high cheekbones and a sharp jaw. His sports obsession since back then really paid off, forming his body just enough, visible that he worked out. These features enhanced the depth of his eyes and his now short hair.
Hayden talked to her about how his cafe came to be, on how he studied architecture and wandered off to take baking classes as a pastime in our hometown. He loved the idea on designing a space for him to improve and share his pastries.
“If you wanted that, what’s with the bar that came with it?”
“I love a little nightlife.” They both laugh at this comment, “I’m sure you do.” She said in reply.
Elizabeth continued to eat her cake and sip her black coffee, which was the best solution in clearing her mind, and talking with an old friend.
After finishing, she had talked with Hayden for hours. They reminisced about the days when they were still students talking about dreams and their futures, which they were now living - laughing as it didn’t go the way they wished it to be.
“Well, now we’re here. The past is now irrelevant, it’s finished. We should just continue to live and try to survive in this harsh world.”
“Well, El. If you could change the past, would you?”
” I wouldn’t do anything to it. It made me see some real horrible things and that helped me grow up to be who I am now.” There was a slight pause at this answer as Hayden looked towards Elizabeth across him in contemplation.
“Well, I must go, it’s getting late.”
Hayden, snapped out from his state, checked his watched and found that it was already 5 o’clock P.M.
“We’ve been talking for a while huh?” Elizabeth smiled at this as Hayden stood as he went towards her and said, “Let me escort you out, miss.”
Elizabeth laughed at his remark and stood up from her seat. Together, they then exited the cafe doors.
“Be sure to come again El.”
“That’s a promise?”
“Hahaha, of course Hayden.”
Elizabeth then walked down the street and hailed a taxi to head back home. She looked back at the small cafe and smiled, happy to meet an old friend after a long time.
Hayden Wright never knew this day would be a special one for him. In the morning he just woke up like usual, opened his cafe. He went to the market to buy his fruits, baked multiple cakes, and restocked the usual ingredients.
When Elizabeth walked in his cafe, he didn’t notice it at first, for he was at the back in his kitchen making extra cream puffs for the afternoon. After placing the batch in the oven, he ordered one of his staff to monitor it before he went out to the front and examined the status of his cafe. A new slice of the cheesecake was coming out of the pantry. He nonchalantly asked one employee serving up the slice,
“What table is that going to?”
“Table two, sir, with the woman in the ponytail.”
The moment Hayden faced into the direction of a familiar face from his past. Elizabeth Lane was his turning point. They were friends back then; it was natural since they were seated next to each other ever since the first day they met.
He believed that she was one of the weird ones when they first started talking, but then he was interested by the topics she shared with him. She’s interesting, he thought back then. Time and time later, they spoke to each other even more. Going from topics like music to sports to food to life. Every day was new when he was with her.
He remembered the time when he first found her beautiful. That one day he arrived to class after summer break and saw the regular face of his desk mate. She looked at him that day and smiled just like usual, but it wasn’t all like usual. The sun’s light poured through the glass windows beside them and highlighted her beautifully. The bright eyes that looked at him made his heart pump faster, and the smile she gave had an unusual effect in his stomach. That day, he could never forget the confusion he felt. Why his chest felt tight and why his eyes kept wavering to her plump pink lips. She was beautiful.
“I’ll take that order.”
“Okay, thanks, boss.” His employee made his way back to the counter after handing him the tray of the goods Elizabeth ordered.
Casually, he made his way to her table. His confidence never failed him as he said to her,
“Enjoy your meal, El.”
There it was. The eyes that saw through him before were staring back at him now. The same beating of his heart ran off, just like before. It didn’t feel all that bad; he thought to himself. There he sat and talked with her the entire afternoon through. He relied on his employees to cover his work for him, no one would are interrupt his conversation right now. He was positive he would fire somebody if they did just that.
She was just as beautiful as before. No, it was possible that she was even more beautiful now in his eyes. He had fun talking to her, remembering the past.
He escorted her out of the cafe and made her promise to come back.
“Who was she?”
“Boss, you gotta’ tell us.”
His employees muttered to him as soon as he entered back in his post behind the counter, “You weren’t hired to chatter, mind your own business.” He replied before making his way back inside the kitchen where he was then left alone. He was going to have to cook for the food for later this evening, but instead of starting right away, Hayden stood there.
There he remembered the bitter past. Back then, he had realized he liked her; it was obvious after a month of contemplation. It was the first time in Hayden’s life where he felt nervous.
One day, he approached her like usual as they were going home together. He grabbed her hand and brought her to a small park before they reached the intersection where they would part.
“El, I’ve got something to say.”
“What is it?”
“It’s been a while now and I’ve gotta tell you...”
“I like you.” After Hayden shared and closed his eyes after he said the sentence there was a long pause. He opened his eyes to see Elizabeth’s surprised face. He thought he had a chance ,so he continued.
“Will you be my-” but was quickly cut off by Elizabeth saying,
“Sorry.” She looked down to their toes, ” No.” Then ran off, going home first.
Hayden felt okay for a while after that. They avoided each other for two weeks. At the moment he finally had the courage to talk to her again, he found out she left and moved.
Hayden laughed, remembering all that happened. Now, they spoke like it never happened, or like it was forgotten. He never did forget. He remembered the way he cried that day, the heartbreak that he felt. It wasn’t real; I was so young back then; he thought to himself.
But deep in his heart, he knew it was all real. It all happened. He couldn’t change the past, nor did she say she wanted to. It felt more painful than a punch in the gut. He bid himself to forget all about it.
He opened the fridge and prepared for later. He wished cooking would help to make him forget it again, just like how baking helped him back then.
It never really did.