Seven years later...
I couldn’t believe it when Edward kept recalling his conversation with Harold, and how quickly they backed off. It was over, it is all over now. I still remember how I ran out of the tent to make sure he’s saying truth, but it was real. I knew it the moment I stepped out, when my ears rang with cheerful shouts and music, when my eyes watched how the fires they ignited seemed to shine brighter, how their laughter, hugs and tears of joy came out in the moonlight. Their celebrations, with all its sounds and tastes of utter pleasure and victory, is still in my mind; crossing my eyes whenever I close them. They draw a smile on my face every time.
The government was back on its feet, and the rebuilding started. Everyone joined hands and volunteered to make their city rise up once more. And that’s when I discovered something new. I’ve always been a great supporter of coincidences and how they don’t have to occur for a reason. But during this whole long journey, I started to believe the reason of what happened from 1960 till 2016. And that is, with no doubt, how it impacted the society in a positive way. I used to hate Earth and humans so much so, that I felt disgraced to have been one of them from the start, but today, when their unity, their strength to start from scratch, their hearts full of optimism and hope, their will power and most importantly, how no matter what, their good nature takes over; I’m proud to say that I was wrong, I’m proud to say that I’ve changed my idea about them. But the most important of all, I’m proud to say that I’m one of them.
In order to thank us, the government offered us free education fees during our college days. In addition to this, Robert Hallward, a businessman of an honourable reputation, offered us a cheque of 100,000 euros as a reward of what we have done. We insisted on not taking it because of the fact that 1) we did what we thought was right and 2) we didn’t do it for money. But he was hard headed, and no matter how many times we rejected the offer, he still gave them. And that’s when an idea hit me.
We bought a coffee shop with a portion of the money before donating the rest of it. What crossed my mind at that moment was Jo, and that’s what we named the Café after; J’s & M’s Café. J for Jo and M for Max. The way my heart shall always remember them, everybody else should.
What was left for us was a whole new start, and we didn’t miss the chance to follow our hearts. I chose art in college, and now I paint literally everyday, and sell copies of my work online, while the original ones are placed for everyone to see in the National Art Gallery. Peter studied English literature, and is sitting right now on the coffee table inside our café, writing his third novel.
The jingling of the doorbells spreads out in the place, snapping me out of my thoughts. I peek to the side to see who came in and find Edward rushing to sit by the counter, facing me while talking on the phone.
“No, don’t do anything until I come.” He says over the phone.
Well, Edward has become a civil engineer, exactly what I thought he would go for... or did I read his mind? Let’s better not get into this.
Logan has been staying almost all the time with Jo’s mother, in the coffee shop, while working in it at the same time. Quite a multitasker, huh? I know, it had always been his habit. Mrs. Smith has been treating us like her own children since our parents’ death. Always by our side with her loving smile and warm hugs, she told us to call her either by her name, Hannah, or mom. We obviously chose the second option.
Ms. Emma and Mr. Gerald gladly took the responsibility of the shop all the time, while we, of course, help them whenever we have some free time.
Last but not least, Jimmy did something marvellous. He studied all day and night, entered into the field of nuclear physics, and with his great researches now, he’s turning into a professor quite soon. But he said that it won’t end there for his goal was to become a scientist, nothing less. Mind blowing, isn’t it? But then again, that’s what I expected, and I’m sure I didn’t read his mind, at least not then.
The jingling of the bell starts again, and my head snaps out of its thoughts, just for my eyes to see a grinning customer leaning on the counter.
I smile sheepishly at him before going inside to place my empty coffee cup in the sink.
Walking back to him, “Yes, how can I help you?” I greet him with another smile.
Still grinning, he gives his order, “A cup of cappuccino with no sugar, please.”
“Will be back in a few minutes, Mr. You may want to read one of the books over there to pass your time until we fill up your order” I say pointing at the little bookshelf in the corner and turning my back to him.
I hope I find a book of action or horror, he says in his mind.
“We have both of them.” I reply back, surprising myself that I spoke it out loud.
“What did you say?” he asks in confusion.
One thing I still haven’t managed to control, which you might have already guessed, is my ability to read minds. I no more give an order to my brain to do it or stare for a long time at any person, but it keeps happening nevertheless, and I can’t do anything about it, yet. The worst part is, I reply back, out loud. I mentally face palm myself and turn around facing him.
“Um... I’m sorry about that, won’t happen again. I promise.” I apologize, almost in a murmur. I just wish he heard it, I’m not so good in repeating anything.
He flashes out a smile, filling me with relief. “You read my mind, didn’t you? It’s okay, I actually wanted to say it out loud but kept it for a second. Glad you caught that.”
I stare at him in disbelief. How in the world did he know about this!
He must’ve seen my expression because what he did next was letting out a chuckle. “Don’t worry, everyone knows you’re the Zoey.”
Now, that’s something to talk about.
“The Zoey? What do you mean?”
“The one who reads minds and saved this city with her friends,” he pauses, pointing at the guys in the shop, “from absolute destruction. Nobody minds it, and so I don’t. In fact, I meant to say it in my mind, so I can make sure it’s true.” He finishes.
“But you just said that you wanted to say it out loud?” I point out, narrowing my eyes at him.
He smirks before heading towards the bookshelf, “Not everything you’ll hear is true, Ms.” He says over his shoulder, “Be cautious.” he adds..
“What is he? A psychotherapist?” Edward whispers to me making me snicker.
“I better get his coffee done before he starts a session.” I whisper back, shaking my head and going into the kitchen.
“Your coffee, Mr. Would you like anything else?” I say placing his cup on the table from the tray on my arm.
He stops reading and looks up at me with yet another smile of his. “No, thank you. Great books, by the by.” He replies with a wink.
“By the by? Have you been reading a classic?” I ask sarcastically.
“Glad you caught the reference, and yes, I have.”
“Nice choice.” I say as I smile and walk back to Edward on the counter.
“Zoey,” Edward calls.
“Yes?” I say turning to him.
“I’ve got to go now, but don’t forget to come tonight. Alright?”
A wide curve spreads on my face and I nod to him.
“Fist bump?” he asks raising his fist in the air.
“Fist bump.” I assure, connecting my fist with his.
He waves at Peter, who waves back without looking away from his laptop screen, before heading out and jingling the bells of the door on his way.
Tonight, we’re celebrating my 25th birthday in Edward’s apartment. It was so lovely of them to prepare it for me. I still remember how my 18th birthday went, when Max kidnapped me, and I shot him the next day. I flinch at the bitter memory. No matter how much I tried to forget, I still feel guilty about it because I could’ve given him a chance. But I didn’t, and that where my mistake was. Peter keeps telling me that I was affected by my anger at that moment and that it wasn’t in my hands to stop it. Maybe he’s right, at least I wish he was, but I know I could’ve not done that.
And because of this, I learnt how instead of trying to forget, I must do the exact opposite. I never stopped thinking of him or Jo, or my parents or even Roxy. They’ve been in my heart and mind - and I promised myself that they’ll always be. Living with these memories is no more a shame, rather it’s something I’m grateful for.
At last, what a person is without a past?
My past led to my present, the way I’m stepping into the future.
I’m glad I found true happiness, with all the people I love, both alive in my heart and in front of my eyes, I’m proud to say that I’m happy where I am today, and I’m sure those who have left this life are proud of my situation, too. They left for this to happen, didn’t they? And I’m glad we could do what they sacrificed their lives for.
Let the bygones be bygones, said Shakespeare once.
And I would rephrase it to; let the bygones be bygones, but never forget their impact on you.
And I shall always remember the impact of everything and everyone on me, both with my heart and soul.