Today’s piece was inspired by the song Sweet Serendipity by Lee DeWyze. Thank you thesarahdogherty for the introduction and the creative inspiration.
She walked into HubBub and joined the long queue to wait for her daily coffee. She liked it iced with lots of almond milk and just enough raw sugar to take the edge off the bitterness. Lost in her thoughts while she waited in line, she ruminated about the increasing sense of longing she had been feeling lately, particularly during her commutes. It was a vague feeling that something important—someone important?- was missing from her tidy, structured life. She laughed at her romanticism—next thing she knew she would be convincing herself that she had a nameless, faceless soul mate out there who was feeling the same longing, waiting for the fates to bring their paths together.
She ordered her coffee and listened idly to the conversations around her. Nearby, but out of view, two men spoke with beautiful accents. From the content of the conversation, she gathered that one of them had been teaching at the University for some time and been up several times during the night with a new baby, thus the essential trip to HubBub. The other seemed to be a new arrival to the campus—a visiting professor perhaps? After waiting patiently for her order, she put her lunch bag and scarf down on the counter and pulled out her debit card and frequent buyers card and handed them to the clerk. After the pierced, tattooed young man handed her the receipt and cards back, she grabbed her lunch bag and started to head briskly out of the way so the people behind her could pay.
“Miss. . . miss, I think this is yours.” The accent was crisply British
She turned around to see a man holding her favorite silk scarf, which she had apparently left on the counter. He was wearing well-worn jeans, a neat Oxford shirt and a tweed sports coat. He was perhaps in his 30s, attractive with caramel skin and a black close-cropped beard and mustache. But it was his beautiful brown eyes that drew her attention. She felt almost a shock of. . .well, recognition would be the best way to describe it. . . when their eyes met.
It took her a moment to realize that she standing there mutely, just staring at him. Flustered, she shifted her coffee into her left hand so she could reclaim her scarf. “Thank you,” she said reaching out her right hand tentatively for her scarf.
Instead he took her outstretched hand and shook it firmly. “Nigel,” he said. His hand was warm and strong.
“Kate,” she offered in return.
“Do you work for the University?” he asked.
“Yes, at the School of Social Work and Social Policy.”
“I am newly at Annenberg. They are quite close to each other I believe.”
“They are,” she answered, bemused.
“Here is your tea,” his friend anounced, suddenly appearing from behind Nigel with what looked to be a large iced chai and an even larger coffee.
“Thank you,” Nigel responded, not quite taking his eyes off of her. “Henry, this is Kate. I believe that she is walking in our direction.”
“Excellent,” answered Henry. “Shall we?” he gestured to the door.
Because it seemed to be the thing to do, Kate fell into step with Nigel and Henry and exited the coffee shop with them. Nigel suddenly seemed to remember that he was still holding her scarf. He stopped, handed his chai to her, and draped the scarf carefully around Kate’s neck, his eyes intent on her face.
“Yes, I thought that this would be a lovely color on you.” He reclaimed his tea and indicated that the three of them were ready to move on.
It wasn’t until later while she was sitting in a meeting that Kate reflected that it had been a rather unusual thing for him to say. She was somehow not surprised to run into Nigel the next morning at HubBub when she went to get her coffee, his chai tea in hand almost as though he had been waiting for her. The morning after that he was waiting with his chai in one hand and her coffee in the other out on the sidewalk in front of the crowded store. The coffee was prepared perfectly, just the way she liked it. “Serendipitous” popped into her head as she gratefully claimed her coffee and they started off together in the direction of their buildings. That was the word to describe their initial meeting, she thought. Sweetly serendipitous.