It was a stupid idea but I had to do it. I’d woken up last week with the words ‘What can I get you’ tattooed on my arm. It was the one thing that I did not want, someone who worked in a shop or something. I couldn’t stand the fact that I was going to have to go about my daily life waiting until that tattoo disappeared because there was no way I was going to find him otherwise. Or so I thought. I’d devised a plan. It was a little desperate but I am an impatient person and I couldn’t wait forever. I was going to make my way around town, going to every coffee shop, café and restaurant looking for my soulmate. Who knows, maybe I’ll learn something along the way.
I set off that morning with high hopes. I’d put my favourite outfit on, a blue skater dress, black pumps and slouchy cardigan. I’d even put effort into my hair and makeup, which is impressive seeing how impatient I am. The air was cold as I walked, but I felt warm with anticipation. I guess if I’d known what was going to happen I wouldn’t have.
By the time I stepped into the little coffee shop my toes were numb. As I entered a draft of warm, coffee clogged air swallowed me. It was so snug I could’ve spent all day in there. The walls were lined with old black and white photos of men winning races, violin concerts and children playing in the street.
‘Good morning. What can I get you?’ The words woke me up to my mission and I glanced quickly at my arm. It was still there. Shaking myself, I answered him.
‘Whatever’s best’. I had decided that I wasn’t going to let the first time knock me down so after drinking my delicious hot chocolate I set off for the deli down the road for an early lunch. This was going to be an expensive adventure.
It was a Friday evening and after a week of walking around, tasting coffee, sandwiches, ice cream and 3 course meals and not losing the tattoo I was beginning to feel really defeated. I so desperately wanted to find this man so that we could get on becoming friends and living the rest of our lives together. I had this fantasy of how we’d meet. I’d been developing it for 5 years. We’d meet in a coffee shop, or bump into each other in the street and with our first words to each other we’d watch our tattoos disappear together. Then he’d ask me out on a date and we’d spend days and nights getting to know each other, both with the intention of eventually marrying the other. We’d have a magical rustic wedding with both of our families and friends. Then we’d live in a little suburban area and bring up our 4 kids together before retiring in a little country home. I imagined what he’d look like too. Luscious, brown, curly hair, eyes as clear as the sky and a heart as warm as freshly baked bread.
After distracting my thoughts with my favourite Netflix show I decided it was time I got myself off my butt and pack for my mum’s. Most 18 year olds don’t live so far away from their parents but being so impatient I wanted to get off and start my life as soon as I was an adult. Mum wasn’t too pleased but she didn’t have much choice. Besides, I still went over to visit her whenever possible. I loved it too. I always blasted out my music in the car and sang along out of tune, stop at some services to get donuts for us both and when I got there we would spend hours chatting about anything that came to our minds.
My journey that time was the same as all others but when I arrived there was something off. I couldn’t tell what it was and as she didn’t seem to notice it I just left it. We spent all of Saturday talking and most of Sunday without her even mentioning anything that seemed a bit strange. I knew my mum well, I would’ve been able to tell if she’d touched on something that made her feel uncomfortable. My mum was quite an open book, you could see everything she was thinking and feeling right there on her face. She was a lovely lady though. When I was younger she used to hold bake sales at our house and the whole community would turn up to buy some of her delicious homemade bakes. You could smell them the whole way down the street. When we’d finished the bake sale we’d go to the supermarket and get anything we could to put into gift packs. Then we’d walk around the town giving them out to anybody who needed them, from homeless people to those who were bed ridden. My mother had great respect in our community which made me wonder even more what had happened to make her so unsettled. By the end of Sunday I’d almost given up trying to work it out until she said something that helped me understand.
‘Has your father tried to contact you recently Alice?’ she asked, shuffling in her seat.
‘No, why?’ I was so glad she had finally opened up but I was slightly concerned as to why my father was involved.
‘No reason, just remember to be wary of him. He’s not a good man.’ She seemed to be talking to herself more than me. I tried to pry more out of her, knowing there was more to what she was saying, but she swiftly changed the subject.
I left a couple of hours later, still wondering why she had brought him up and thinking of how I could approach the subject another time. I knew my way around her. Me and her had spent so much time together when I was young. She was my role model and best friend. On weekends we’d walk around odd little villages or climb hills and eat picnics looking down upon the world pretending we were on some pilgrimage or something. When school rolled around we’d spend the mornings dancing around to our favourite songs whilst getting ready, resulting in becoming rather late some days. My father hadn’t ever really popped up in my life until I was around 12. My mum had always avoided talking about him and the few times I’d asked questions about him she’d only given brief replies. On my 12th birthday Mum received a phone call. We’d just been dancing around and when she picked the phone up she was quite out of breath and her face was red but as she answered it all the colour drained from her. She glanced at me and then walked out of the room into the office, closing the door behind her. I sat on the stairs listening to her slightly raised voice, knowing I should have gone to my room so that I couldn’t hear. I knew she was talking to him by the tone in her voice, it was the same one she used whenever she mentioned him. I had never really known what had gone on between them until that day when my mum came out of the office crying. She sat next to me and I held her whilst she told me everything that had gone wrong.