Amidst the bright lights and sounds from the city’s plaza and the nearby mall, David’s Revelations coffee shop was dark and quiet, like it had decided to take a break from all the partying that everyone is doing. It was a slow night inside, too. At this particular time of month, people were more inclined to get their caffeine fix at more known establishments, so the shop was often put aside. The employees enjoyed the slow evening too, their soft chatter mingling with the mellow music that played from the store radio. There were no other customers inside the store, save for a lone figure that sat at the back of the store, almost hidden in the darkness.
But not hidden enough. David was surprised to see his female best friend, April, emerge from behind the counter, carrying two steaming mugs of coffee and head towards him. He didn’t even see her arrive. He thought she’d join his friends and his sister in watching a movie in the new mall that night after having their celebration dinner with the producers for the successful concert last week. David had fun at the dinner, but he begged off from the movie because he was too preoccupied with other things to enjoy Star Trek.
“Hey stranger. Mind if I join you?”
David looked up from his chair and gave April a faint smile. He motioned to the spot beside him with a nod. April laid out his coffee mug on the table as she settled down on her spot.
“I thought you were with the others?” David asked. He picked the mug up and took a sip. The coffee was just the way he wanted it to be: just the right amount of cream and no sugar. It was just like her to remember how he liked it.
April shrugged, but he saw she was avoiding his eyes. “Nah, I can catch Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto in another time.” She paused before turning to him. “I thought I’d spend time with you. I haven’t been able to talk to you alone since I got back.” She smiled and leaned slightly on his shoulder.
“Well, here we are,” David said with a smile, probably the first true smile he’d had since April had returned. “Talking.” He tapped her forehead lightly, the way he always does with his sister.
“Wow, you don’t seem excited.” The tone was uncharacteristic of April. Suddenly, her weight was gone from where she was leaning on his shoulder, and she was sitting up straight, arms crossed and pouting at him.
David froze . Did she really mean that? Did she notice anything different?
But then April burst out laughing. “Gee David, are you still stressed?” she asked between laughs. “I’m just kidding.”
David managed a weak smile in return. Of course April was just teasing him. There was nothing to be paranoid about.
But he knew he had all reasons to be paranoid. If April had left for the States because of normal concerns and if nothing out of the ordinary had happened during the time she was gone, David would have been more than excited to have her back. In fact, he may have thrown her a party for her return and would have spent as much time with her as possible to catch up with the time she was gone.
If things were normal. But they weren’t. At least, as far as David was concerned.
His friend’s laughter died and she sat back on the couch, leaning her head on his shoulder like it was the most natural thing in the world — and perhaps it was. April was probably the one of the few people who knew him best.
They were silent for a while, and the sound of April’s steady breathing made David relax for the first time that night. He remembered the old days — April and his sister Paula’s slumber parties where he and April would often meet in the kitchen to have midnight snacks when Paula was already fast asleep. Then there were the school plays, field trips and parties and school dances. And then came the band. David couldn’t imagine his life without April.
The same way he couldn’t imagine his life now without Marianne.
“What’s on your mind, David?” April asked softly. Her voice blended with the soft music that David almost didn’t hear her.
“How long have we known each other, April?” David asked back. April looked up at him briefly before settling her head back on his shoulder.
“I don’t know. All our lives?” She chuckled. “I can’t imagine any moment of my life without you.”
“Me either.” David replied.
“I missed you, you know. I missed everyone, but I missed you the most.” David looked down at April and saw that her cheeks reddened a bit as she spoke, and he wondered for the nth time if there was some kind of truth over the teases and jokes about the two of them.
“Did you miss me?”
“Of course I did.” It was so easy to say. With April, everything was so easy. He knows her, she knows him. He knows what to expect of her, and she’s always so nice. She’s faithful, she doesn’t have any vices and she was everything that David liked. With April, everything was just so…easy.
But did he want easy?
He took a thoughtful sip from his coffee while he tried to form his next question. “April…how do you feel about…us?”
“What do you mean?”
“You know. The two of us.” April straightened up and David’s shoulder suddenly felt empty without the weight of her head on it. She gave him a quizzical look, which prompted him to elaborate, not without blushing. “I mean, you know. You know how Nathan and the others kept on teasing us, that we’d end up together. That we’re perfect for each other. I’ve always just let it slide but I never knew what you thought about that.”
April looked down at her mug and swirled it around almost absently in the silence. The silence stretched on in what seemed like forever. David was starting to regret bringing up the subject until April finally spoke up.
“I never thought you’d bring it up,” April said quietly. She still stared at her mug, slightly making David uncomfortable.
Come on, April, look at me, please, he thought almost desperately.
“I’ve loved you since I learned how, David,” April continued. “Maybe even more than I loved anyone in my entire life.” She took a long sip of her coffee and said nothing else after.
David’s mouth dropped open in shock. He thought April would just laugh about the entire thing, like she always does whenever Nathan would tease them, and say it was just a crazy thing and it’s nothing. To hear that April loved him…
It would be so easy to say he loved her too. So easy to take her into his arms and kiss her, and tell her he’s glad to know she felt the same way. So easy, and so right. He knew his parents and her parents would be happy, his friends would also be happy. He’d be happy too, yes, and he knew he’d have a good and easy life with April.
But David knew it was also a lie. And he can’t lie to April.
“You don’t have to tell me that you love me too, David, because I know you don’t,” April finally said with a soft chuckle. It was like her to say something in his mind. “I’ve learned to accept that. And of all people, I think you deserve to be really happy. I know that kind of happiness for you isn’t with me.”
But she held up her hand and stopped him from speaking. “Don’t worry about me. Remember this line? I’ve loved you with an everlasting love.” David found himself smiling at that — it was one of their favorite lines in the Bible.
April smiled back. “Yeah, that’s me too. And I know your love for me is that way too, and it’s really all I want.”
Without another word, David pulled April into his arms and embraced her. He felt April relax and lean her head on his chest, their breathing becoming synchronized. David has never felt freer before, and maybe, this was just all he’s been looking for. He pulled away a bit to plant a kiss on April’s forehead.
The bells at the entrance of the coffee shop rang, signaling a customer. David was still enjoying his moment with April until he heard one of the bartenders shout out, “Hello, welcome to Revelations, Ms. Marianne!”
The name was like a shock of electricity in his body. David broke away from April and turned to face the customer. There, Marianne stood, by the counter, where she had a clear view of them. It was dark, so it would have been hard to see them if it were any other person, but Marianne was used to being in dark places with all her partying, and David knew from experience that her eyes were sharp in the dark.
Marianne stood on frozen on her spot, eyes on David and April. Her face was white, eyes wide. David could see confusion in her eyes but there was something else…were her eyes actually filling up with tears?
She blinked, and then her face hardened. “Sorry I disturbed you.” Her voice was curt, just like when David met her the first time. Then she turned and left, the bells of the door clanging angrily after her.
He must have sat frozen in his seat for a while, looking at the empty space where Marianne stood, because he jumped in surprise when he felt a hand on his arm. He looked at April, who had a kind expression on her face, her hand squeezing her arm.
“Go, David,” April said. Then she released him.