The Student News Site of Enloe Magnet High School

Enloe Eagle's Eye

The Student News Site of Enloe Magnet High School

Enloe Eagle's Eye

The Student News Site of Enloe Magnet High School

Enloe Eagle's Eye

A Coffee Shop: Pt. 3

A Coffee Shop: Pt. 3

A Two Room Apartment, 2023

The man in the tank top winces as I gingerly place a bandaid on his arm. For the most part, his wounds are all bruises, covering his face, stomach, and legs. He sits on the small wooden chair in my kitchen and keeps his eyes closed while I try to dress his wounds. My first aid kit is limited, but I do my best. He hasn’t said anything since I told him to come inside. Getting him up the stairs in this state was difficult, but I managed. 

He doesn’t open his eyes, and I’m glad. I don’t think I’d be able to focus if he was staring at me with that curious look. My face is only a few inches away from his as I patch up the bruising and cuts, so close that I can feel our breath mingle. 

Finally, I finish bandaging and applying salve to the bruises on his face and legs. I remember the way they were kicking him in the alleyway and realize there’s probably still bruising underneath his tank top. 

“Can you lift your tank top? I want to take a look at your stomach,” I say, and my face burns as I realize I just asked him to take off his shirt. Seemingly unfazed, he lifts his tank top to show me his muscular stomach, now purple, brown, and blue all over. I glance up at him, and he nods, motioning that I can continue. Slowly, I squeeze more salve out of the tube onto two of my fingers and nervously apply it to his stomach. He breathes slowly, and I can feel his stomach rise and fall beneath my fingers. His skin is warm and soft, and I go slowly, for fear that the moment will end too soon. After I rub in the salve, I reach down into the box on the table filled with bandaids. Grabbing some, I slowly pull off the back, letting the packaging fall to the floor. He keeps his eyes closed, but I feel his muscles tense underneath my touch. He shudders as I put the last bandage on but still doesn’t look at me. Once I finish I stand up from where I was kneeling in front of him and back away.

“I’m um…I’m done,” Stammering, feeling my heart is going to beat out of my chest. He opens his eyes and looks at me, then at his arms, stomach, and legs, inspecting the bandages. 

“Thanks,” is all he says. Before I can tell him it’s no problem, tell him I missed him the past few days, his stomach lets out a loud growl. His face flushes, and he turns away, trying to hide his tomato-red cheeks. 

“I’ll get you something! Is soup okay? Sorry, I don’t have a lot right now,” I explain, trying to think of something he might like to eat. He watches me panic, and guilt flashes across his face.

“I don’t need anything,” he mutters, looking away from me as I stand over him. 

“Are you sure? It’s really no problem,” I urge. 

“Mmh, it’s fine,” he reassures me. Despite that, I can’t ignore the sound his stomach made and how hungry he must be. 

“Please, let me get you something, it’s really no problem,” I say, trying to sound reassuring. This time, he pauses to think. 

“If you really want to, I won’t stop you…anything is fine,” he says, placing a hand on his stomach as it growls again. I nod and hurry over to the fridge, pulling out the container of soup I had made for the week and pouring some into a bowl. Placing it into the microwave with a slosh, I close the door and turn to look at him again. His frame is broad, and his skin is tanned and clear, aside from the bruising and occasional scar. His hair is fluffy, black, and just long enough to cover his ears. He looks rough, but something in his eyes reveals that whatever lies beneath that cold exterior is gentler. 

I stare at him for longer than I mean, in a trance, and only the beep of the microwave brings me back to reality. Taking the hot bowl out, I place it in front of him, then hurry to the other side of the table and plop down in the seat. He stares at the soup, then looks up at me, realizing I haven’t gotten anything for myself. 

“Go ahead, I’m not hungry,” I say, trying to sound encouraging. 

“Are you sure?” He asks, pushing the bowl towards me, but I push it right back.

“I’m sure,” I say, firmer this time. He glances at me one last time before picking up the spoon.

“Oh…well, thank you,” He says and dips the spoon in the soup, taking a sip. At first, he doesn’t seem to react, which makes sense; my cooking isn’t exactly worth a Michelin star. As I watch, anticipating some kind of reaction, he takes another sip and then another, practically gulping it down. He continues eating in silence, the only sound coming from the scraping of the spoon against the bowl.

“Is it okay?” 

“It’s really good…thank you.” He says, his voice raspier than before. “It’s just been a while,”

“Been a while since what?” I ask. He remains silent for a while and goes back to eating his soup. I assume he’s not going to say anything more, but then he speaks again. 

“My mom always made me soup when I was little.” He says. He looks up, and his eyes finally meet mine, but unlike before, he quickly looks away. Either out of embarrassment or something else, I’m not sure. “Your soup is really good. It makes me think of her.” He adds between sips. Something about him looks sadder than before, and it makes me want to reach out to make him feel better.  

“Thank you,” he says again, but quieter this time.

I am not good with words. I don’t know how to comfort people or make them feel better. But I want to do or say something. He seems so alone, gulping down some lackluster soup, covered in bandages and bruises. Without making too much noise, I reach towards his left hand, which rests gently on the table. I gingerly wrap my fingers around his, not tightly, but just enough for him to notice. He looks back up at me, and it looks as though he is holding back tears. Our faces are only separated by the small table, barely two feet wide. Neither of us looks away this time, and he starts holding my hand tighter. His hands are calloused and dwarf mine by comparison, but all I can think about is how warm they are. 

I don’t know how long we sat there, but I wish the moment would never end. Finally, I move to pull my hand away, and he doesn’t let go, not pulling on my hand but holding it firmly. I can’t bring myself to break away from his stare.

“You should finish the soup before it gets cold,” I whisper.

“Okay,” he says and resumes eating, but he doesn’t let go of my hand. 

Finally, he finishes the soup and goes back to looking at me. 

“I should get going-” he starts.

“Do you have somewhere to go?” I ask, sounding more blunt than I mean. He sits there looking at me in silence like he’s assessing me, calculating what to say next.

“The only place I’ve got is where those guys in the alleyway came from,” He says, his voice clearer than before, and I understand the implication. If he goes back, they’ll only pick up where they left off. 

“Then it’s settled,” I say, finally letting go of his hand and standing up. Placing one hand on my hip, I point to the tiny bed on the other side of the divider, separating it from my kitchen. “You’ll sleep here.” 

“I couldn’t-”

“I can’t just leave you on the street. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I did that,” I point out.

“Fine,” he says, understanding there’s no point in arguing. But instead of lying on the small bed, he lays on the small rug beside it. “But I’m not taking your bed from you,” he finishes. Though he winces as he gets down onto the floor, he lies there in quiet determination. I walk over, and though I know I can’t change his mind, I grab one of the two pillows on my bed and bend down over him. He opens his eyes and stares at me in confusion, and slowly, I reach my hand under his head, gingerly lifting it. His hair is fluffy and soft, and the feeling of it in between my fingers makes my heart race. I place the small pillow beneath his head and pull my hand away, letting his head gently fall onto the pillow. He continues looking at me, and his face flushes to that same tomato-red again. I get up and walk to the sink to brush my teeth, and the whole time, I can feel his gaze on my back. 

I don’t get much sleep that night.

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About the Contributor
Audrey Weaver, Creative Writing Editor
(They/them) Audrey is a senior and returning for their second year in newspaper. They enjoy writing, cooking, and listening to music. In their free time Audrey lives in the kitchen, cooking for their Mom and them.
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