(I) Stalker

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The smell of coffee nudges your senses the moment you step inside. A choir composed of chatter, whirling blenders and brewers along with classic music plays in the background while you walk to your favourite table and take a seat. Something about the place sends warmth into your heart, somehow it feels like home.

"Ma'am!" The waiter welcomes you. "Your regular order?"

"Yes, please!" You smile, this makes you look like a VIP.

While they prepare your coffee, you look around, flashing random glances at the people in the cafe, your eyes settle on the man occupying the table facing you. Your eyes meet, so you reflexly look away. He seems to have noticed that you were watching him, because he now fixes his eyes on you.

This is creepy.

The waiter comes back and places your coffee and favourite brownie on the table.

"Anything else ma'am?" He asks.

"No." You answer, stealing a quick glance at the stranger on the opposite table. He's still staring. It feels too awkward, so you leave as quick as you finish your drink.

You come back the next day; you always come back. You pick your same spot, and the same order. It feels satisfying to follow this refreshing morning routine, and you can't help but practice your hobby of watching people and wondering what brings them here this early. An awe creeps to your heart when yesterday's starer walks through the door, and takes the table facing you.

"Whatever!" You tell yourself. This must be a coincidence, but as he sits, his eyes are fixed on you more intensely than yesterday. You look around, his gazes might after all be meant for someone, or something else. However, nobody is sitting behind you.

"What the hell!" You mumble. And once again, you leave soon.

When you walk into the cafe then next day, horror strikes you because the stalker is already there, sipping his drink confidently, it must have occurred to him that you come here everyday. Will he follow me after I leave? You instantly wonder. You stand by the door, hesitant to go for your usual seat, the waiter already places your order on the table without you ordering it. The stalker's intense stare almost pierces your coffee. How dare someone disturb your morning ritual! He flashes an eerie grin, and that's when you've had enough.

Leaving your coffee untouched, you rush outside.

***

When he walked into that cafe every morning, he would pick the nearest table to the window, for he loved to pretend enjoying the view. He would focus all his senses on perceiving the teeniest occurrences taking place in that closed space. Distinguishing coffee from vanilla, cinnamon, or cocoa. Examining the texture of the cups and utensils. The noise of someone's laughs, a tinkle of a spoon against a tray, some faint sigh here, a "fssst" of a sip there, and the sincere "mmm" that follows...

He never noticed the wide smile drawn on his face, and he would never have cared. It had always felt lonely with constant darkness settling all around, and being surrounded with people and things, however, seemed to shed some dim light. He never saw them, but he loved to imagine that he did.

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