Chapter One: Coffee

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It all started in a coffee shop.

The thing that got me in this padded cell.

It was nearly two years ago.

The mesmerizing, drifting scent of coffee beans still floods my memories. Nowadays, it seems to be the only thing keeping me alive. Well, that and her lilac eyes. But ironically, that also may be the death of me.

Anyway, the coffee shop. A humble wooden sign with chipping paint was proudly displayed just above the entrance, with the tenderly carved words, "The Roasting Rooster". A tiny silhouette of a rooster was etched next to the logo, giving a sense of minimalistic charm to the welcoming corner cafe. It was just about the most hipster place I have ever personally witnessed, and I loved it. Not to say I was a hipster myself, but more of a hipster sympathizer. I also liked scarves and sweaters, just like them. But then again, who doesn't?

In fact, I was bundled in one of my favorite scratchy jumpers, and a purple scarf flippantly curled around my neck. I strolled into The Roasting Rooster, the usual blank expression strewn across my face that was flushed from the fleeting frost. As the iced door shut behind me, a gush of winter wind swept down my back. I released a shiver, and clenched my teeth. I always hated the cold; luckily my wooly (albeit not entirely manly) apparel sheltered my raw skin. After recovering, I stumbled over to the counter, and ordered a cup of hot chocolate (extra marshmallows). The barista placed my order, and began the process of coco crafting.

As I waited, I turned so that my elbows casually rested against the edge of the counter, and put on a face of cool indifference. My eyes scanned the room, observing the usual crowd of ear-gauged youngsters, scruffy-faced bowtie enthusiasts, and fedora-bearing bloggers. But as my vision swept through the crowded, stuffy cafe, it was soon stopped short. My sight became fixed upon one figure. One person. One common folk. Yet, common was the last term to describe her.

Her hair was a sculpted updo mess of mint green that gracefully melted into tips of sugar white. Her lips were two pink petals, yet when she grinned became slender and elegant. Her cheeks were a delicious scarlet, but so subtle that it seemed the only way to bring them to glory was by murmuring something scandalous. Her willowy neck was laden with a string of precious pearls, and her thin ears decorated with a modest diamond cuff and a fine chain of gold that linked to the back of her lobe. A popping white dress with bright teal dots (pulled right out of the 50's) carefully encased her petite figure, and matching teal flats sat still around her unblemished feet. Lovely freckles peppered her nose and cheeks, and gave her glowing complexion a certain innocent, genuine charm. Yet even as I listed all of these wondrous qualities about her, they did not quite match the thing I saved for last. The trait of her appearance that most strung my soul, and disregarded any effort to tear my prying eyes away from this angel. This magnet, this hypnotic weapon of mass beauty, was her eyes.

They were two almond-shaped gems of amethyst. Sparkling, shining, living. They swirled in an endless chasm of knowledge unbeknownst to me. Her lashes swooping about those glorious eyes were like petals, surrounding the core of a lilac rose. Those eyes, those eyes, those eyes! They screamed! Yet they whispered. They blazed! Yet they quenched. They wrapped a great mystery of paradoxes and confusion and nonsensical essence that reached into my soul and yanked out whatever I formerly longed for and tossed it aside, thus crawling in its place to capture my focus for millennium, as long as my eyes could behold her eyes and my very being bask the sunshine that was... her.

"Your hot chocolate, sir," alerted the barista, tugging me out of my poetic coma and directing me towards my drink. I turned to him, received the coco, and grinned sheepishly.

After handing him a buck, I swerved back to the lavender lady and put the chocolate treat to my lips, only to discover she was now staring back at me! She wore a look of confusion and slight unease. Before allowing myself to process this, I rushed out of the building, chocolate abandoned in the trash.

That night, as I lay musing over that beautiful dame, I heard a faint chiming. A twinkling, almost. Vaguely like a triangle, or... maybe a piano? I had no idea. The little musical calling proceeded the entirety of the night, and though it was subtle, stole away any sleep I planned to enjoy.

"How odd!" I thought to myself the next morning, on my way to the winter-laden park, "What could have caused something so strangely annoying?"

My feet trudged against the slushing sidewalk snow, and I made my way through the heart of this winter-cursed city of Syracuse. The sky hung over me like a pile of gray stone bricks, forming dense clouds that threatened to pour out their wrath upon New York's citizens. Once I reached my destination, I laid my instrument case onto a dry path of the freezing park. I unzipped the case, and set up my keyboard. Now, some might think it odd that I play a keyboard for street performance. But piano is my strong suit, and it doesn't appear I will be rolling a grand all the way to the center of Syracuse anytime soon so, anyone who wishes to judge can stay silent.

Once I had my tech set up, and a hat resting gently on the ground, open to donations, I was ready. But before I had the chance to even set my fingers on the keys, I heard the clicking of heels.My head snapped up, and I gazed upon the source of the noise. A beautiful figure. Trailing, flowing lace white dress. Long mint green curls. Could it be her?

Stunning violet eyes. Yep. It was her.

"Uh, excuse me," ran my mouth, vomiting words before I could process them. She slowed and stopped her walk, and turned to me. A look of realization suddenly flashed in her eyes, and her face grew slightly disdainful. My face flushed.

"What?" she spat. I could understand her reaction; it was creepy to gawk and stare at someone you've never met.

"I wish to apologize for yesterday, at the coffee shop," I croaked awkwardly, wringing my hands, "It was rude of me to stare. It's just..."

She stood there silently, waiting for me to pick up where I trailed off.

"It's just..." I repeated, my cheeks turning to tomato. What could I say? It's not like I could just say, 'I was staring because you are so hot'. Then inspiration struck, "... how could you wear a dress in this weather?"

A smile played about her lips, and she chuckled.

"Well," she remarked good naturedly, "I'm pretty warm-blooded."

And with that she smiled once more, and went on her way down the icy path. Once her back was to me and she was out of earshot, I breathed a sigh of relief. Hopefully that patched up the uncomfortable first impression I developed the other day!Her voice was so musical, so strong...I abruptly heard a merry little toon. The notes went up and down, rising falling, the beat to that of my heart. It was beautiful. But that merriment soon changed to horror as I looked upon my keyboard, and saw I had still not lifted a finger. And there was no person nor other source of sound in sight.

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