The Last Say
We rendezvoused at the subway station at a later time to avoid public confrontation. The usual meets before were harmless but now that we’ve pushed forward to another level; it was hard to throw caution away. The train had arrived at the same time I did. Ric had been waiting; his back towards me. There were no signs of his commuter bike or messenger bag but his stature alone. I rushed to his side to let him know I had made it. He smiled as I looked up. It didn’t seem fair that he looked confident and relaxed while I stood there nervous.
The travel to Yaletown was different and purely undisturbed. Having to go the opposite way took me out of my comfort zone as if the further away I am from home the less control I have of my destiny. Neither he nor I said anything but his quiet demeanour comforted me a little, more than any conversation could’ve attempted. I was beginning to settle in.
Once we’ve arrived there was no turning back. I had asked for this and I’m getting what I’ve commanded him to give. The atmosphere had changed and my worry was gone. We were far from campus grounds and far beyond campus hours. I let myself breathe on the way up the three flights of escalators to Davie Street. We grabbed a bite to eat at the first place we thought was decent. I was glad that Ric didn’t try to impress me in some unflattering manner. Our conversations barely nicked our personal lives and I was OK with that. I knew we had a long night to spare ahead of us. The waitress had finally placed the bill directly between us and I jumped the gun as soon as she dropped it.
“If it’s alright I’ll pay my own.” I sounded demanding. I showed him my best unsure facial expression.
He wittedly responded, “As long as coffee’s on me.”
The night definitely just started.
I always thought the location of the Starbucks on Hamilton Street was perfect - corner lot right beside a busy station. The old laid bricks that stretched throughout the walkway gave a nostalgic vibe yet the architecture ties in the urban life. The patrons, I assumed, would be beautiful and trendy. Nightlife seemed to be at a constant high; a barista’s haven.
He began to hum the song that was playing inside the coffee shop while we stood in line. I smiled at the fact that Ric looked so adorable doing it. There was no certainty whether he knew how to sing but this gesture alone was good enough for me. He finally noticed me relishing this side of him and he wanted to put me in the loop, “Coldplay.”
I didn’t quite hear him so I had no clue what to make of it. I had no choice but to shake my head.
His eyes went along with his smile as he repeated it, “It’s Coldplay - In My Place. This is actually my comfort music.” He continued to mouth the lyrics.
The song began to get clearer with words and I gradually started to understand. Funny how I’ve heard of it once in a while for brief moments on the radio but not once did I think the song would matter. I took a mental note on listening to it again at a later chance.
We had finally reached the counter and after our brief exchange of pleasantry with the cashier, Ric placed his arm around my waist to indicate I order first.
“Grande Caramel Macchiato but instead of the vanilla syrup I’d like the caramel syrup.” I spoke louder than usual due to his gesture. I mellowed down to finish my order, “Also, extra caramel drizzle.”
“Mine would be Grande Americano with two extra shots, please.” His sounded masculine. Ric explained his caffeine guilt, “I have some reviewing to do.”
“That’s a lot of reviewing.” I humoured back.
“It would’ve been four if it was the morning.” He responded casually.
The cashier had been listening in as she vouched for him, “It’s actually common in the morning.”
While the transaction took place, I realized she had started to flirt with Ric. I didn’t mind at all. What I felt in class the first day was extraordinary and that was without verbal exchange. I was certain I may not be the only one who’s experienced it either. She had all the right to cater to him and he had all the right to acknowledge her presence. I admired his generosity to staying genuine in the conversation.
I decided to wait where the orders came up while he tried to finish the momentous flirtation. Our drinks subsequently rang up and he went for the lids and sleeves during which I slid the cups closer to us. I noticed the cashier had the last say as she had written ‘Nikki’ on his cup. Her penmanship concluded what seemed to be a heart. I quickly let go of his cup and held on to mind. I pretended to not see it at all. He finally saw what had been written and went about his business on readying his drink. He waited until I finished doing the same to mine.
“Shall we?” Ric hinted to the door. I nodded.
During our exit, I waited to see if he was going to look back at all. I ended up doing it only to see the disappointed look on Nikki’s face.
Once outside, he asked if I had a Sharpie. I always carried one for my sticky notes. He exchanged his cup for mine along with the pen, took off the sleeve and wrote his name. I instantly blushed as I felt natural warmth throughout my body. He returned both as I did his and before we could move forward, he smiled and joked, “Did you want a heart?”
I laughed and shook my head even though the answer was a yes.
We walked around the neighbourhood to enjoy the scenery and talked about anything that came up. In the middle of it, I saw an opportunity to finally put my opinion from his introductory speech. I gradually found courage to speak, “You’re wrong about the mind and heart concept.”
“The heart will always have the last say.”
“If a person hates another but decides to do the right thing, it’s because of compassion. If a person loves another but turns to the wrong thing, it’s because of passion. People do things beyond their intellectual reasoning because of these emotions. Isn’t that how we find and define love anyway?”
“So what you’re saying is,” He paused for a second, “I should look for another profession?”
We both laughed. That sounded like an agreement. He contemplated for a bit but left it open. I didn’t want to pry further more. I was just glad I was able to opine.
We have mapped our way around and ended where we’ve started; down at the subway. We boarded on the next train heading south without knowing its destination. I followed him to a seat at front and my head took comfort on his shoulder. Everything seemed right at the moment and I left it at that. Neither of us attempted to ruin what had settled in as we drank simultaneously out of our already lukewarm coffee.
Bridgeport Station was just around the corner when I mentioned that this was my stop. I stood up and placed myself in front of the door. His body stood against mine as if he didn’t want the night to end. I turned around to face him.
“I thought…” He sounded confused.
“This had always been my stop.” I reaffirmed quickly only to confuse him a little more. I continued, “I wasn’t expecting you to be on that train. You drew me in and I couldn’t resist the temptation of getting to know you. You made me feel there was something worth missing a stop and staying on. I wish I had any other explanation but there isn’t. This wasn’t something I had planned either.
“You’re missing your bike and bag; you didn’t have any business in school today did you?”
He looked down with a blushing smile and shook his head. The doors had opened and it was my cue to leave. I took a step backwards out the train to put some effect on my departure. Without hesitation, he stepped out to kiss me on the cheek but in his appreciation, the way he kissed made me imagine what it would be like on the lips. I stood motionless with both hands holding on to my cup. His aftershave heightened my imagination and his rough five o’clock shadow made me weak. He stepped backwards inside the train to return the effect. The doors had closed.
The train started to depart as I looked at him admire me through the window. I mouthed, “Thank you.”
My heart wasn’t pounding, it was simply beating.