Now, when you come into the coffee shop, our interactions are layered with personal quips and sincerity from both sides of the counter. Every time, you seem to open up a little more, and I seem to fall a little more down that dangerous hill called love. Not that I would ever tell you how I feel – that is the last thing you need, especially right now while you are healing from your experiences.
Speaking of which, we still have not actually talked about… that. Not since the first time I asked about your disappearance. Sometimes when I ask how you’re doing, you tell me that its a good or bad day, but nothing beyond that. And I won’t ask further. Not unless you offer.
Then one day, you come in, ask for your caramel latte, then specify that you want it ‘to go.’ I raise my eyebrows at her in confusion, but don’t ask any questions. I simply make the drink, hand it over, and wish you a pleasant day. And I might have spent all day wondering over what would have prevented you from spending your usual amount of time here, if not for the brand new television that our manager had installed in the corner of the room. Not twenty minutes after you left the shop, the local news reporter comes on, talking about a special interview. Almost immediately, all three of us baristas and half the customers are glued to the screen because the reporter is interviewing a kidnapping victim who is none other than a Ms. Jacqueline Adams.
As I stand behind the counter, holding a forgotten espresso cup in my hand, I listen to you talk. You answer the reporter’s questions calmly and with a sense of elegance and grace, even though you don’t ever look directly at the camera, or even at the reporter himself. You say that the experience was horrible, that you owe your life to the hikers who discovered you, that you want to make sure that nobody else has to experience what you went through.
After the interview draws to a close and the customers have resumed their normal chatter, Lily sidles over to me.
“That was our Jacqueline, our regular, right?”
I can only nod, and I hand the espresso cup to her. Right now I need to get a breath of fresh air because your story is conjuring up images in my head that make me ill.