Watchful Eyes by Alyssa Jett Chaney

This story is one of the March Writing Challenge entries chosen to be a featured story.

How much more can I say about the woman sitting across the room?
What is it that you’re asking for?
Her name?

The wind did a salsa dance through the bushes, blowing the hair out of the faces of many people today. I managed to make it to the coffee shop before the hustle and bustle became too much to bear for a single cup of coffee. It’s easy to find myself fixated on those who go by, painfully stressed in line, then with a coffee in hand they create a convincing disguise. The caffeine must come in doses.

I woke up unnaturally early this morning, with no one home to tell me to rest up and get back in bed. I went to wash my face, and what I saw shocked me, when I looked into the mirror. There was a skinny female with a tinge of grey coloring her fair skin, which complemented the experienced look in her eyes. How ghostly she appeared…she must’ve died years ago.

I turned away from the reflection to glance over at the golden band placed upon the cold, marble counter. He used to wear it like a trophy, like a medal won at the world Olympics. Love used to be such an accomplishment when we were young. He wouldn’t just tell me he loved me either. He would show me with dazzling necklaces and charms, and especially roses. Maybe someone will tell me when they started withering.

If I hadn’t left the house today, my mood would’ve casted a large shadow against the day.

Your order will be right up.
What’s your name?

She looks familiar. Scarily familiar. I suddenly became frantically alarmed at the sight of this woman sitting by herself at a coffee shop…only to realize how silly it was. She doesn’t even know me.

The panic did startle me enough to finally awaken. Last night was electric. There’s no other way to describe the way the mystery man’s hands wrapped around me. How dumb do I feel now, though? I didn’t even get his name.

I find a seat a long ways from her, yet I’m still able to see her peacefully look out of the window next to her. She was beautiful, but the tiredness in her eyes took away from some of it. There was a lot to think about while I waited on my latte.

I think the guy was married. It was the weirdest thing, but kind of obvious after I opened up his wallet in the middle of the night and saw a picture of him from what looked to be like a wedding. In the darkess, I could see his complexion contrasted heavily with the lady’s next to him. She was radiating even from printer paper, and they looked as if there was no one else they would rather be looking at. He started talking in his sleep when I put the wallet back on the nightstand, and admitedly it was rather cute. He said a name with much sorrow… “Heather.”

So as I look even closer at the woman across the room, my curiosity kicks in even more so. Maybe we went to high school together, or I could’ve possibly interviewed her for a job. She gives me the impression that she needs a better way to spend her time, anyhow. There’s an employee cleaning the table next to me, and I figure they must know some of the people that come here by name.

“Excuse me.”
“Yes, ma’am, how can I help you on this fine day?” I can’t tell if this is enthusiasm or sarcasm.
“Do you know that woman across the room?”
The employee looks and says, “The one with the tan hat?”
No one is even wearing a tan hat.
“No, the one behind the planter.”
“Oh, she comes around here a lot.”
“Ok…and what else?” If this employee keeps it up, I will leave a bad review online.
“How much more can I say? What are you even asking for?”
“Just a name. What’s her name?”
“I think it’s Heather.”
My eyes must’ve widened so much they could’ve fallen out of their sockets.
“Please go.”

The room abruply becomes a dangerous game of who will catch who first. Love is truly only a calamity of the normal adult life. Perhaps particularly for those that let their happiness rely on another rather than themselves. To tell Heather where her husband was last night would only add to the tragedy. After a long time, my latte is ready. I leave the shop to meet up with my gals to tell them about how awesome this guy was last night. Thank God I’m not Heather.



Alyssa Jett Chaney
Germ Magazine guest author
… is a contributing guest author for Germ, which means the following criteria (and then some) have been met: possessor of a fresh, original voice; creator of fresh, original content; genius storyteller; superlative speller; fantastic dancer; expert joke teller; handy with a toolbox; brilliant at parties; loves us as much as we love them.



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