Updated: Feb 1, 2022
Each day was the same for him. He would wake up, grab the book, and head to the shop. He was diligent in his reading. He was a structured man. To allow anything to distract him from his responsibility would ruin everything he has been trying to achieve. He made a promise that he intended to keep.
Another morning and the same events: He got up, got dressed, and headed into Black and White Coffee and Tea. He had his typical book with him and proceeded to read. After about two hours, he got up and ordered his usual Earl Grey tea. “No sugar. No milk. Nothing to ruin the authenticity.” He was an older man and his voice was low. He talked slowly and with a smile as he ordered the same genuine tea. Once he had his tea, he went back to reading his book. The most curious of this man’s actions were that the book never changed and the tea never seemed to be consumed. Perhaps, he didn’t want to alter the originality that he fought so hard for? Regardless, he would sit in the chair, hold his maroon book with a green spine, and stayed there until he was satisfied. Once he left, the only thing you could count on was he would be there the next morning.
People were nice to the old man. The baristas would greet him, ask him how he was, and make his tea when he was ready. Other customers also greeted the man. Some of the regulars would ask him his story. He was happy to tell everyone of his responsibility. He said different things depending on the age of the listener.
For those younger than 15, he would say, “My story is just beginning. I am eager to know what will happen next. I am curious about the new characters that are waiting to be introduced. Every character deserves a good, original arc. I believe everyone I talk to is another character. What they do is a mystery, even to them. However, I do know my past. I do know about the previous chapters. I would be delighted to share that with you.” With a warm smile, he would open his book and continue on. He would not turn a page nor would he remove eye contact, he just opened his book and would begin, “Once upon a time, there was a boy. Young, happy, full of energy. The boy met a girl. Beautiful, radiant, full of life. The boy thought the girl was perfect. He would talk to her, they became friends, and they spent a lot of time together. They spent every hour with each other. Every Sunday brunch and every winter rain. They especially loved the forest. Many days they would go into the forest, go on long hikes, and watch the sunset. There were no designated paths or signs but they didn’t care. Somehow they would walk for hours and always end up at the top of a hill. This hill had a single tree that was small enough to climb and had a perfect branch to sit on. They would watch the sunset and be mesmerized by its grand, beautiful rays over and over. Once the sun had finished its daily task they walked back down, said farewell, and knew they’d be back in the woods soon enough. Eventually, they fell in love and lived happy lives. Nowadays, the girl is at peace, and the boy is talking with some curious listeners.”
For those older than 15 and younger than 25, he would continue, “The boy and girl fell in love and decided to start a family. They loved waking up next to each other and being with each other at all times. They only wished they could share their love with others. The laughter being multiplied, the sun shining all the more, what a perfect dream. Unfortunately, they were unable to start a family due to a lack of fertility. However, she had a brilliant idea of starting a garden. One morning she made the notion, ‘Remember that tree on the hill? It allowed us to see the light better than anything else. Its roots must’ve taken over that whole forest. Let us pass on what the tree did for us to the world.’ She believed that plants are healthier when loved by someone. She used to say, ‘If our love can’t stretch to people, let our love nurture this garden.’ Every day the boy came home from work he would see his bride in her garden. He would always tell his beloved, ‘you work so hard on those lilies, tulips, and daisies but you are more beautiful than them all.’ She would tend to respond with, ‘if I don’t care for them, who will?’ She loved her flowers and he loved her. Eventually, their love grew and they lived happy lives. Nowadays, the girl has passed from this life, and the boy is sharing their story.”
For those older than 25, he would finish his story, “Their lives continued this way for a long while. Sometimes he would see her reading and remark, ‘even those authors who have spent years researching, will never have as much wisdom as you do.’ He would notice her painting and he couldn’t help but say, ‘your brain is vaster and more majestic than any artist.’ He would express his feelings and her garden grew all the more. As time went on, the girl was not as healthy as her flowers. She was attacked by something that not even the boy could save her from. It was something so deep that not even physicians could do anything. He stayed by her side until the very end, but he was petrified. He was told that the final day was approaching and he told his love, ‘you are my whole world. I fear that I will not be able to express the deep love I have for you before you go on. I have not found the words yet.’ She smiled softly, ‘you are everything and more. Your words haven’t meant nearly as much to me as your heart. And that, that is something only I know.’ He began to weep as he held her hand and asked one more question, ‘you know my heart?’ She took in her last breath and answered, ‘better than even you, my love.’ She passed that day. When the boy eventually made it back to his house he noticed a book on his late wife’s nightstand. Inside the self-sown book was a collection of sentences that the boy had said. Every time he attempted to explain his love she wrote it down.” Then the old man would flip to the final page and on the back cover read Tell our Story, my love. “I now tell our story. Eventually, their love grew even deeper. Nowadays, she is still beautiful, radiant, full of life, in the next life and he tells their story waiting to be young, happy, full of energy, with her once again.”
He was a curious man. Peculiar in many ways, but the people loved him. Young and old. Some would even ask him for advice. To those people, he would simply tell them to learn their heart and to know it. Some would just want to hear the story told again. It is known throughout the town that this man still keeps up a brilliant garden. His flower’s roots are deep and true.
It was bitter-sweet the first day he didn’t come into the shop. His roots passed through so many people and touched so many lives. Some days it is hard not seeing his friendly face every day. We know where he is though. All of the other characters know where the protagonist had to go.