short story, part 2.

How do you decide whether moving away was the right decision? Was I just running away?

I’m in my second week of work and I’m already absolutely adoring it. They have taken me in under their wing, so the worry about knowing no one in Melbourne dissipated almost straight away.

I’m exhausted. I’m so fucking exhausted. Carting my stuff from hotel to house, moving into my new house next week; working and getting to know new people, having to tell the same drab, shortened, happy version of my life story to each person.

Monday morning, 7am.

This place has changed my sleeping patterns to extremes; a night owl turned morning bird. I’m already lining up for my large caramel flat white with almond milk (I know, I’m that guy) and my mind feels so exhausted but my body feels so awake. The line is surprisingly long, filled mostly with men in suits and tradie uniforms. My mind goes off in a wander as I’m waiting in line, eyes losing focus and staring off into the distance. I notice the line move an inch forward and I snap back to reality, realising I was staring at a face as I notice the confused look on his. 

“Sorry,” I mumble, snapping out of my reverie.  

“All good. It’s a bit like that this morning,” he replies with a hint of an accent and a hint of a smile. 

No words manage to come out of my mouth but I feel my head give a vigorous nod. I walk up and order my coffee, stumbling over change and feeling the irritation from the people behind me. 

I move off to the side and wait for my coffee to be made, using the time to watch the people surrounding me. Picking those who had a big weekend and were using caffeine as their saviour, the early birds who were used to their morning routines and the young apprentices having to do the coffee run for their bosses. PA’s, juggling their own coffee cup with that of their boss, trying to send emails at the same time off of their phone. I find myself wondering if these people ever stop. Stop working, stop worrying, stop and smell the roses. 

I take another look at the guy I had been staring at before and note the way his face is a little too small for his head, but he has a charm I know I could end up finding attractive. His slightly crooked mouth turns into a sweet smile and I’m surprised at myself wondering what it would be like to kiss it. My brows furrow and I turn away awkwardly, feeling my cheeks flush.  

Well… it has been a while. 

“Alex with the large caramel flat white!” The barista calls. 

I rush to grab my coffee and walk-run out of the café, feeling as if everyone around me could read my mind. I walk straight into the 7/11 just up the road to get my daily banana bread and, considering I’d left myself heaps of time before I had to be at work, a guilty pleasure reading of The Collective. 

I find a nice park near the office and settle myself on the still slightly damp park bench. Fucking Melbourne weather. I take a sip of my coffee, savouring the strong taste of sugar and coffee on my tongue. I people watch for a few moments, breathing in the crisp, cold, fresh air, feeling it clear out my nose and my lungs; a fresh day, a fresh week. Life tastes so good. 

I open my magazine to a random page and begin reading an article without taking any of the words in. I feel a body sit next to mine on the bench, silently cursing to myself at people who sit on the same bench when there are clearly plenty more around. I pretend to be engrossed in the words on the page and take another sip of my coffee. 

“Hey stranger. Fancy running into you here.” 

I rejoice in the familiar voice, looking up to see the face I’d thought I’d close to made up in my head. Alex sits next to me, staring at me in that same kind of cute curiousity as the first time we met. I struggle to swallow the coffee still sitting in my mouth, coughing as a way of greeting. 

“Still as charming as I remember,” he says, patting my back. 

“What are you doing here?” I ask. 

“Weird way to say hey to an old friend. My office is just over there,” he says, pointing to the building next to mine. “And yourself?” 

“We’re work neighbours. And you’d consider us friends? I don’t even know your last name.” 

“Subtle. Alexander Walsh is my full name on Facebook for you to have a stalk.”  

“What makes you think I’m going to do that?” 

“You strike me as someone who’d do that.” 

I laugh and admit defeat. “I’m definitely someone who’d do that.” 

Alexander looks at his watch, and jumps up from the seat. 

“7.15, better get in there now. It was lovely to see you again, Alex too.” 

“You too,” I say, squinting up at him, the sun shining through the clouds to make the glare saved for foggy mornings. 

Alexander starts to walk off and I take another sip of my coffee, thinking how coincidental that was. I laugh to myself as I think of my younger sister, knowing she’d be telling me it was a sign from the universe. 

“Alex too!” Alexander yells from afar. 


“Tomorrow lunch. Meet me here?” 

I take a moment to answer, acting as if I’m mulling it over in my head. 

“Meet you here.” 


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