He imagined the universe spilling from his pores. Entire constellations coming from his nostrils with every exhale. Multiple galaxies escaping his mouth with every word he spoke. Brandon watched the world through that coffee shop window. His job was observation. While writing was a skill recently discovered, he had always thought of idiosyncrasies as beauty. He drank black coffee out of a unique mug every day. Qloe, the owner, made them herself. In her college years she took a ceramics course, finding the hobby that would take her mind off of the, all too mundane, life she led. He especially liked the ceramic genius sitting next to his laptop today. It was a deep purple with splashes of black and lighter blues. There were random white specks on it that Qloe claimed to be mistakes from the firing process. Brandon liked the quarks. He felt as though he was drinking the universe out of that mug, creating a confidence in the young writer that was not common.
“You need a refill?” Qloe yelled at Brandon from behind the counter. She didn’t make this a habit, but it was that time of the day that liberties were taken without hesitation.
Brandon didn’t hear Qloe with some Rock band blasting in his ears. His father always told him he came off as incredibly rude when he did this in a public place. He was still staring out the window. The city back drop could have been any city in the world. There were tall buildings with many cars that were more similar to blurred hallucinations as Brandon watched them speed by. The people walking past his microscope had their own style. Each having a certain piece of clothing, or accessory, whether it be a leather jacket with a unique detail, or a distinct haircut, helping them stand out. Unique seemed to be the obsession of the generation. Qloe’s choice were her earrings, however Brandon didn’t feel she needed anything to stand out. Her humble beauty was unlike anything, from art to landscapes, he had ever seen before. His own choice was a watch he had found at a market in a small town outside of the city. The people there were genuine and the obsession of unique seemed to be contained within the city, because he did not see anyone trying to be distinct, they simply were. He passed booths that were selling anything from shower curtains a woman made herself, to grilled cheeses that were supposed to be the best in the country. That was the original reason for Brandon’s visit. On his way to “Grilled Heaven” a watch, that had a brown leather strap and a face that was bright orange, screamed his name. It hasn’t left his wrist since. He too had found originality important and thought this accessory would do the trick.
He felt eyes coming from behind him. He turned his head, and there was the slim body of Qloe standing dangerously close to him. She was wearing her usual outfit: loose jeans cuffed at the bottom, and a snug white tee shirt with some black Keds. Her bright orange and turquoise earrings framed the soft features of her face perfectly. With her a-line haircut contrasting in a way that was so intriguing it was uncomfortable for Brandon. He felt the confidence that began with his sip of the universe grow when he realized his watch matched Qloe’s earrings. He straightened his posture slightly and gave her the best smile he could muster after a long morning of getting lost in his own thoughts.
“Who’s Aubrey?” She asked looking over his shoulder.
The only word he had achieved that day was a name. Aubrey.
He anticipated this question with dread. Brandon had had an honest life. He was so honest it was irritating sometimes. Fiction felt unnatural to him. He had also decided to write about something that he felt inexperienced with- satisfaction
He took another sip of the universe and his dread turned into excitement. “I don’t know.” He answered with the slightest hint of a smile on his face. “I’m just meeting her as well.”
Qloe asked, frustrated by his vague answer, “lover, mother, friend? Who will she be?” as though reading his hesitant mind.
He did not anticipate so much curiosity from Qloe’s direction. She had now put her coffee pot down on the wooden table and took the liberty to sit in the chair closest to him. She was bored and needed to entertain herself with the thoughts of other people. Brandon took this question and chewed his words before spitting them out.
He once again got lost in his thoughts.
On a breezy day near the potent ocean, the pier was taken over by the noise of a young drummer. At 15 he could play the congas better than many. He was an intense young man and any hobby he began, he eventually mastered. She watched his fingers beat to the rhythm of the guitar. She could keep a beat, but he was able to express all the twists the opaque melody had to offer. Her eyes were unwavering. The accuracy of his fingers beating the drums frightened and amazed her. She was in love with him already. She knew him well, even if his fingers were the only part of his body speaking. They said everything she needed to know; his opinions and emotions and ideals. They were all hidden within the thumb taps and the bass beats of the palms. His eyes were closed, but he saw everything.
Brandon felt the eyes of his new admirer. As he looked in Lauren’s direction he found pure passion. The young lust was mutual. Her indifference had disappeared for at least that moment.
Brandon has a way of seeing beauty in every woman that enters his life. Lauren had kind, dark eyes, a nose that was slightly too big for her face and a body that was generous in all the right places. His drumming fingers and honest temperament made that moment of lust for life remain in her for three years. She was able to feel the beauty of every emotion while with him. However at graduation the recognizable feeling of apathy returned to haunt her. At 18 she was indifferent once again, and that terrified her.
She killed herself on a hot Saturday afternoon. You could feel the air wrap around you like a blanket it was so heavy with moisture. This blanket kept her body warm until she was found. Everyone mourned her death. She was freshly graduated and only knew the intense ostracism of high school as life. She thought that’s how life would remain. She didn’t know that her peers had the capacity to grow into something more beautiful. Her lover felt a great deal of not only remorse, but also guilt on the sultry afternoon of her funeral. His sadness was overwhelmed by an intense feeling of gratitude. He was no longer the prisoner of her newly discovered emotions. He realized the selfishness in his thoughts but that did not make them disappear. Her death was a catalyst for the re-creation of himself. Those three years with his beautiful yet tempestuous Lauren had stifled him. She had felt every texture of passion. However, his lust for life had stopped the day his hunger began for her.
Qloe was now staring at the city scape with Brandon watching the people go by. She wondered how he had so much patience to stare at a population of humans who walked so quickly and left the world behind. She felt a kind of resentment towards the city for giving her the life of a barista. She had far more extravagant passions. However, unlike Brandon, she did not reach for them. She was terrified and so she hid in the dark shadows of coffee beans and pottery wheels. Her impatience took hold of her as she bothered Brandon once more. “What are you looking at?” She asked.
“Do you see that building?” he asked acceptingly, pointing towards a mosque that was hidden within the masculine skyscrapers. Qloe adjusted herself so that she could see what he saw. Little did she know that Brandon’s lens towards the world exaggerated the splendor of everything. She saw a dilapidated mosque with its green paint chipped and the arches lacking the drama they once had. However Brandon saw a stunning aged woman with a history so intriguing he couldn’t look away. He read the curvaceous mosque the way he read his mother’s penetrating eyes.
His mother stood before him. He was ready to get in his white 1990 volvo sedan, packed with boxes full of his life. He looked to her face. Her emotions were always readily worn as a mask. While many would see a cold exterior, Brandon noticed the slight tilt of her lips and modest squint in her eyes. They were wet with tears of pride and intense joy. She was overwhelmed with these feelings of growth and loss of innocence for both her and her son. Her words came out a jumbled chaos. Like Brandon, she was much better expressing her thoughts through scribble, rather than through the spoken language. Her son was a gorgeous, modest, compassionate man and she almost felt a sense of regret. Motherhood required someone better or more confident than her. She was a quiet, modest woman with dark tanned skin and dark, deep eyes. Her hair had streaks of gray that exposed her age openly. Brandon knew her well, even though most of his time was spent with her in silence. They were one in the same, and that is what his mother was anxious about. Brandon knew that when his mother said, “I love you.” She meant so much more. And when she said nothing at all you could read her through those rich eyes full of life. She would never admit it, but she knew somewhere within her aged bones, that she raised him well. Even her mistakes gave him guidance.
Brandon hugged his mother trying to make his goodbye short. She had not seen him cry since Lauren’s funeral. He got into the front seat and drove away waving his hand out the window. He was leaving his small sea side town and running toward the big city where things happen. Writing was his new hobby and, as usual he was chasing it with everything he had.
“My mom was so worried about me after her death.” Brandon confided, not realizing that he had given Qloe his trust. Qloe just stared at him. She, of course had no idea what he was talking about. The hideous tint of green chosen to dress the old building is what she was still focusing on.
He continued, “She misunderstood my feeling of… liberation for… denial.” He chose his words slowly and delicately. “She didn’t hear me cry every night. She only saw me in the fresh days when I felt new and… and…”
“That green is so fucking hideous.” Qloe blurted, not realizing she may have been ruining crucial moments in developing this friendship.
Brandon smiled. Qloe had brought him back to reality. For that he felt thankful. That was a huge reason he came to this coffee shop. She spoke freely. He admired that about her. She was real and easy.
The night time rush began coming into the coffee shop. Rather than the corporate business men and housewives that frequented the shop during the day, artsy poets and liberal college students began flooding the joint around 8 at night.
As the crowd dragged Qloe away from her tentative friend she said, “Loosen up Brando! Life is young. Have fun with it!”
Brandon was shocked by the relativity of this comment. She had been listening. If only Qloe knew Brandon before Melanie. She would understand that he was enjoying life. She just had to learn how to read those light green eyes.
Brandon left the coffee shop as the night crowd stormed in. He felt uncomfortable, almost competitive when they began entering. He began judging everyone who opened the door. In order to avoid this ugly side of himself he came up with the solution, a couple weeks before, to leave by 7 before any of them made their grand entrance. However tonight Qloe kept him late and so he caught the first two causing the bell on the glass door to ring as they pushed it open. However instead of insecurities flooding his brain, the confidence that had begun with similar styles and sips of the world continued. He was pleasantly surprised as he stood up that he had the urge to greet these two people. “Hey.” He said to both of them, with a broad smile on his face, as he made his way towards the door dodging tables made of dark stained oak and comfortable, worn, leather couches. They both barely smiled and nonchalantly tilted their heads in his direction. He took this as a sign of apathy and wondered how that had become the act of many of his peers. Emotions were so difficult to ignore.
Melanie called him on his way back to his house, which was squeezed between two towering apartment buildings. They talked for the full 45 minute subway ride and Brandon felt stares as he could not contain the laughter that consumed his body as Melanie told him a ridiculous story about a date gone wrong. After a day full of thinking and intensity, Melanie was the only person he wanted to talk to. He had no doubt that they would be friends forever. She was small in stature. Her face was cute with deep dimples on both cheeks. Her face read kind and honest. It read true. She was those two things as well as strong and hilarious with a dry of sense of humor. He would always owe her his life because she saved him from his own intensity.
Melanie was his shield from his own thoughts.
After he hung up the phone he opened his computer and began typing. He added four more sentences. “Aubry was anonymous. Nobody could comprehend her identity. However with that anonymity came familiarity. She was a part of everyone and everyone was a part of her.”