A/N: So, here it is...my new little fic. It's only going to be 14 short chapters. The POVs change frequently which is why I felt it worked better as a ficlette rather than a o/s. If you've read any of my other stuff, you'll see that this is a complete departure for me. Honestly? If I hadn't written it, being the wussperv that I am, I probably wouldn't read it. I know...not doing a fab job selling this. But I'm just so not an angst h00r. I had this idea nibbling at my head for a while and finally decided to just write it all down.
I'll be honest up front and say that there is no promise of a HEA with this fic, so if that's a dealbreaker, I'm letting you know now. No hard feelings if you don't read on.
Huge hugs and thanks to Char for being brave enough to beta this, and to Caren, Gin & Ash for prereading. I heart you all.
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, I just come up with random things for them to do.
In a coffee shop in a city
Which is every coffee shop in every city
On a day which is every day
I picked up a magazine
Which is every magazine
Read a story, and then forgot it right away
They say goldfish have no memory
I guess their lives are much like mine
And the little plastic castle
Is a surprise every time
And it's hard to say if they're happy
But they don't seem much to mind
- Ani DiFranco - Little Plastic Castles
It's gray today. Thin strips of pale yellow sunshine struggle to force their way through the dense clouds, but they hardly make a difference. It's still gray.
Was it gray yesterday? I can't quite remember.
I shuffle across the floor, wondering why it's a pale green linoleum. I'm pretty certain that I prefer hardwood. I look down and notice that my white slippers are tinged gray and wonder how long I've been wearing them. There's a basket of folded laundry on top of a chair, and while I can't remember when I actually did laundry last, I'm thankful that it's been done. I put my clothes away, careful not to wrinkle them.
Socks get put away first. Drab blacks, browns and blues, all rolled up and neat, staring up at me from the top drawer of my bureau. Next, crisp white boxer briefs make their way into the empty space near the socks. Once I'm certain everything is in order, I close the drawer quickly, ready to put away something else. The drawer ends up sliding shut way too fast, and before I can remove it, my thumb gets caught.
"Shit!" I cry out, unable to help myself.
My shout echoes in the empty room; nobody else around to hear it but myself.
I pry the drawer back open and pull out my thumb, sucking on it as it throbs in my mouth. I can feel the blood beating heatedly, reminding me that despite the gray surrounding me, I'm still here.
I'm still alive.
Sometimes I need that reminder... or I forget.
Once the pulsing in my thumb simmers down to a slow beat, I notice I have laundry to put away and work on neatly putting away my undershirts. After hanging up a few button-down shirts and some pants, my laundry basket is empty, and I stuff it away in the closet. I look at the clock, and realize I have a bit of time before needing to go out, so I relax into an overstuffed arm chair.
There's a magazine on the side table, and turning on the lamp next to me, I begin to flip through it, curious as to why all the articles are about summer fun in the sun. Peering outside once more, I reassure myself that it's certainly not summer, before turning the magazine over and noticing the publication date.
My eyes flit to the calendar by my bed, which reminds me that it's actually October 2010. I frown, a bit put out that I still have an old magazine lying around, but continue to read it anyway. Time passes, and I find myself growing hungry. Looking at the clock, it seems like a fine time to head out. Bending over, I swap out my dingy slippers for some brown lace up shoes with particularly sturdy looking rubber soles. I opt for a cream colored wool sweater, since the orange-tinged oak tree outside my window shivers slowly in the breeze.
When I reach the door to leave, I take a moment to think of whether I've forgotten anything or not, but nothing springs to mind. A bright red, spiral notebook is perched right next to the door. I stare at it and take the keys sitting next to it before deciding it might be a good idea to take it along with me as well. There is a pen tucked conveniently in the spiral spine, and I hold them both close to my chest as I leave my space.
The hallway appears empty, and the solitary echo of my shoes plodding against the floor confirms that thought. As I reach the doors to outside, a pleasant looking woman smiles kindly at me.
"Good morning, Mr. Cullen," she says, moving to allow me to pass.
"Good morning," I mumble in response, not quite certain I actually know who she is.
This is one of the pitfalls of living in a populated place. Many faces pass me by, but very few stick with me. The rest seem to meld together, not making much of an impression. I just nod and smile and hurry along.
The brisk air hits me at once, and the overpowering smell of cleaning chemicals from inside the building dissipates with the wind. It's quickly replaced by the smell of freshly cut grass and whiffs of burning leaves. I take in a deep breath and allow the scents to calm and ground me before setting out on my way. One foot moves in front of the other, and soon I've found myself in front of a coffee shop. I don't recognize it, but something about it feels warm and welcoming.
The outside is dusky red brick with a bright yellow door. I let myself in and am immediately hit with the familiar smell of bitter coffee and overly sweetened pastries. My mouth salivates instinctively as I take in the variety of scones and danishes in the display case. There's a bit of line, so I file in, contemplating what I'd like to order. I think hard and try to decide what my favorite drink of choice is as I wait my turn.
I note the tired-looking woman at the counter, talking to a customer in front of her. She looks sad, defeated, and as if she's carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders.
She also looks incredibly familiar.
Her face is screwed up in concentration as she patiently explains to the customer that there is no way to make the cheese danish vegan friendly. I want to laugh at this ridiculous exchange, but the pained look on her face stills me. She can't be that upset over a cheese danish. I find myself unable to tear my eyes away from her, and she must feel my stare because she suddenly turns her head and looks directly at me.
I offer her a shy smile, embarrassed at being caught staring, and avert my gaze. Waiting my turn, I hope that she's still at the counter to help me.