Cassie wasn’t expecting to see him, of all people, here, of all places. She wasn’t expecting to see him at all, but there he sat, in front of her, just like the old times. Like a long time hasn’t passed by since they were in the same place together, alone. Like nothing was different at all.
It’s not surreal because she’s always been friends with him. They see each other every now and then whenever their group of friends meet up, and really, when Cassie thought about it, nothing has changed. Except, maybe things are different now for her, that simply being friends with him is not the same as it was before. Maybe it was because she never saw him as a friend, anyway, that’s why meeting him again after everything that happened. Or, to put it accurately, after everything that did not happen.
Weird. Maybe that’s the word she can use. It was weird being alone with him again. It wasn’t like they’ve ever been alone for long periods of time back then. But being with him now, of all times, when things are just so different just feels weird.
Cassie chose to look up at him at that moment, and the thing she had been avoiding the most happened — their eyes met. She knew immediately what was coming next: his smile. True enough, Jonah’s eyes crinkled, and as always, his faced brightened as he smiled. And as always, even when there was so much turmoil inside of her from the weirdness of it all, Cassie couldn’t help but smile back.
“Well, this is nice,” Jonah said, after a moment’s pause. He didn’t seem uncomfortable at all. “How are you, Cass?”
He always called her that, too, unlike everyone else who called her Cassie. Just like how she never called him Jon but Jonah. Back then she thought that meant something, that calling each other differently from other people meant a lot. That she was special to him, just as she thought he was special to her.
But maybe, names are just names, nothing else.
“I’m fine,” Cassie answered with a nod, reaching for the plastic iced coffee cup on the table in front of her and then stopping when she remembered that she had just finished her drink when Jonah strolled by and saw her. If she had arrived earlier, or if she had decided to stand up and go around the mall instead of hanging outside of Starbucks to enjoy the afternoon, he wouldn’t have seen her. Cassie would have been blissfully window shopping in ignorance, never knowing that Jonah had been in the same place as her minutes ago. Never mind that she had wished for that moment for a long time, for them to run into each other randomly somewhere — a cosmic coincidence that in her heart wasn’t a coincidence at all.
As it turned out, the coincidence came a little too late, when Cassie could not care less for it at all.
“It’s not like we didn’t see each other a few weeks ago,” she added, choosing instead to play with the charm that hung from her mobile phone.
“Oh yeah we did,” Jonah said, leaning back on his chair with a relaxed smile. Cassie wondered how he could be so calm at a moment like this. How could he be so in control, how he could sit there without being fidgety. If Cassie wasn’t thinking about politeness, she would have left the moment Jonah sat in front of her.
“But it’s not like we actually talked then, you know,” he said, giving her that smile again.
Her heart gave a queer beat and she wished she could take it back. Please don’t say you missed me. Please don’t, Cassie pleaded, avoiding his eyes.
And he didn’t. Instead, Jonah continued, “It was like you just disappeared with the girls after — you were nowhere in sight when the food was gone.”
With this Cassie smiled. She didn’t disappear with the girls — she just left because she didn’t want to stay. Staying meant talking to everyone and inevitably, Jonah, and she just didn’t want to. Especially not that afternoon, which turned out to be one of the happiest she’d had for the longest time since she last went out on a non-date with Jonah.
“I had somewhere else to go then,” Cassie replied. She thought of elaborating, but the news she had for that afternoon is considered old news now. And if Jonah had been paying attention to anything the way she wished — used to wish — he would, then he would know why. And he would probably not sit there alone with her, acting all charming.
Cassie didn’t want to be charmed. Not by him. Not ever. Not anymore.
“Oh.” A cloud passed over Jonah’s eyes and for the first time that afternoon, he looked uncomfortable. A part of her felt a smug satisfaction of it, while another part — the one she had been trying to suppress — wanted to explain. What to explain was another problem.
She felt her phone vibrate before she heard the tone, and she had to stop herself to sigh with relief. Cassie smiled at Jonah, raised a finger and checked her phone. Finally, the message she had been waiting for arrived.
“Jonah, I have to go.” She started gathering her things, hastily stuffing her wallet and her notebook in her bag, promising to fix it later.
The surprise on Jonah’s face almost stopped Cassie. Did he actually expect her to stay longer? Were they even close friends now? “Already?”
She smiled, trying to be apologetic. “Yeah, sorry.” Not that she meant it. “It was nice seeing you, though.” She added, and that she meant. Just a little.
“Yeah, you too,” Jonah said, standing up. “I have to go somewhere too, anyway. But I’m glad I ran into you. See you again soon?”
Cassie shifted her bag on her shoulder before answering. Does she want to see him again? Soon? Not really. But she can’t say that, right? “Yeah, maybe.”
Jonah smiled again, that smile that lights up his entire face, the smile that attracted Cassie to him in the first place. The smile that meant so much to her before, but nothing now. The smile that her boyfriend didn’t have, but even so, he had so much more than Jonah ever had — the moment Cassie’s boyfriend had stated his intentions for her, she knew he was so far from who Jonah had been.
And she knew she deserved someone more than Jonah.
“Bye, Jon,” Cassie said, finally calling him by the name everyone called him. He wasn’t anyone special anymore.
If Jonah noticed the name change, his face didn’t show. He just smiled at Cassie again. To her utter surprise, though, he had pulled her into a hug, and he felt his lips lightly touch her temple. “Bye, Cass,” he said softly, before stepping back. He smiled again, before turning and walked away, leaving Cassie watching after him before finally turning away herself.
Author’s note: It’s been a while! Forgive the crappiness of this — sudden inspiration needed some word vomit. 🙂 I hope to write more soon!