Note: This entry was originally posted on 5 July 2014 and has been revised and reposted on 1 August 2015.
IT WAS THREE days before winter break. The sun barely rose in the morning sky and the city was getting colder and colder by the days passing by. Snow slowly covered the place and trees seemed to have leaves as white as ivory. Nevertheless, students in the University still needed to endure the last three days before they could spend their precious holidays.
The city was still busy no matter what. Traffic continued to fill up the streets and at one of the corners was a café which was busier than ever. Uni students always had the need for a dose of caffeine, anyway. However, this day was more jam-packed due to the need of something warm for the body.
She was sitting alone in her usual spot in the café. A cup of Frappuccino was in her table and in her hands was a John Green book they need to analyse in her Literary Class. Needless to say, she was completely oblivious to her surroundings. She was always the loner, so it wasn’t a new thing for her not to pay attention to the city around her.
She continued on reading her book totally in touch with its fictional characters until a raspy voice spoke, “Hello, Miss!”
She slowly looked up with a slight hint of annoyance for disturbing her fervent reading. But what she saw—who, rather—made her screw her usual aura: being the usual invisible recluse she had always been.
For her, his orbs were the brightest shade of blue she had ever seen in her entire life. Just by looking at him, she was lost in a trance until he spoke and smiled at her, “May I sit down?”
Slightly embarrassed from her little staring, she immediately replied, “Uhm, sure.” Then she gave back a smile to prevent her blush.
~love at failed sight~
“THIS CAFÉ NEVER fails to be jam packed every second week of December, does it?” He spoke in the same raspy voice she just heard a couple minutes ago. However this time, it was blither.
He was actually starting a conversation with her. All she could do was slightly gulp on her half-full cup of frap whilst pretending to read her book. After a couple of seconds, it dawned on her that he would think she was rude and a snob if she didn’t reply.
So she answered, “Yeah, I guess. It’s never like this on any time of the year. It’s always Coffee on Decembers.”
As she answered, his gaze zeroed on her, “So you’re here often. Tell me about it.”
She became more conscious about him looking directly at her like he’s staring through her soul. “U-uhm. Tell you about what?” she questioned.
“How often you stay here. Why you choose this of all the places to do your reading despite the distractions and noise. And why you love to read a new book despite I know you’re that kind of girl who loves classics,” He shrugged like it was the most obvious question in the world.
She was reluctant about answering because it suddenly crossed her mind that maybe he would be the one who would break the walls she tried to make against the world. That was why she remained cautious about answering. Breaking out of the shell wasn’t meant to be a fast process, anyway.
“I stay here before my classes and during my break time. That’s all I would share to you. You are a stranger, and I don’t talk to strangers,” She replied and suddenly remembered, “Hey, how did came up with the thought that I love to read classics?”
He was about to respond until she added, “Plus, how did you even know that The Fault in Our Stars is just a new book? You never seem to be that kind of lad who would spend his time reading books that are way too cheesy for his liking.”
He chuckled about her sudden verbosity and answered, “You’re too quick to judge, m’lady. Your judgment may be right. However, you still judged me before you knew me. Jane Austen would be so disappointed,” When he saw the hint of infuriation in her eyes, he added, “Wait, I thought you don’t talk to strangers?”
She was so exasperated she was about to stand up and walk out. But his hand worked as a reflex that would instantly stop her from leaving. His big, warm hand freely wrapped around her wrist as he said ‘sorry but please don’t go.’
She sat down calming herself and noticed the change in his features. He was now serious and sincerely sorry. She assured him she it was just ‘okay’ and that was when he laughed again.
She looked at him ponderingly and asked, “What?”
He continued chuckling and said, “Hazel Grace, where is your oxygen tank?”
“You have read this book?” She gestured the half open book which was still on the same page since he sat down across her.
“Long story,” He shrugged.
“Well, I have time for that. I didn’t know you are a sucker for this kind of novel. I actually thought they are too cheesy for your liking,” Now it was her time to smirk.
However, being the witty lad that he was, he was still able to keep it cool and come back with a calm retort, “So, Hazel Grace plans to continue a conversation with me now, huh?”
“Funny because my name is Hazel, too.”
“Well, my name is Augustus,” He grinned.
“Seriously, my name is Hazel,” She replied in a serious tone.
“Now, this is getting interesting,” His smirk was getting wider. “To answer your question, yes I have read that book. It was needed in Modern Literature when I was senior.”
She looked at her wrist watch, “Oh. Well, I guess I need to go now. Nice meeting you, –?”
“Tom, I’m Tom. Well, wait! You also study in the Uni, don’t you?” He queried as he also stood up and put on his coat.
“Yeah. Why?” Her eyebrows showed her contemplativeness.
“Do you mind if we go together? I also study in the Uni and uhm, I… I guess we can, uhm—”
She chuckled as he rambled, “No. No, I don’t. But, I just take a walk. It isn’t that far anyway.”
~love at failed sight~
SHE HAD ALWAYS seen him in the café for a few weeks now. They would always walk together to the university. He was exceptionally glad their buildings are just beside each other.
She knew a lot about him. What amazed her was the fact that there was a main reason why he never liked to read books. He was a Biology student. He was investigative, and he had a strong belief about facts and things with evidence. However, though he never admitted, she was sure that he had a liking for the fictional books he was required to read in high school.
On the other hand, she was a student of Literature. They were both imaginative, but for him, her imagination was a different thing. His imagination was for the things that can truly happen; in contrast to her, which was about World Peace and true love and ‘boring stuff’ that will never happen according to him.
But he listened to her opinions. He listened how she ranted about writers who made a name in the Literature timeline but never really served a purpose. He chortled about her promise to leave a mark on the world. He chuckled at her assurance of becoming a writer who can influence others in a good way.
She came to a realization. With him, her walls suddenly had a door which was built to open up to him. Before, it was pure concrete wall that would never be broken even by the strongest hammer and chisel in the world. But though he never really tried, he had this vibe which made her easily share her thoughts and opinions with him.
Weeks came already until they were able to comprehend their sudden closeness. New Year came and they were still in touch greeting each other through phone and Skype.
“Happy New Year, Tom,” She greeted cheerily. For her, New Year is a time for jolliness. New Year is a time of hope. New Year is the time to look forward to happy things to come.
“Hello. Happy New Year, Hazel Grace,” Her words were a joke but the tone he used was the opposite.
“I told you many times my name isn’t Hazel Grace. It’s just Hazel, remember? I am not Hazel Grace Lancaster from TFIOS,” He thought she would ignore his lack of energy. But he should’ve fathom that she was always inquisitive. “Hey, Tom. Why are you feeling down? Cheer up, Augustus! It’s New Year’s Day!”
They both exchanged fits of laughter remembering they first met through that John Green book three days before winter break. But she never let go of him feeling down every special occasion.
That was he opened up about his seclusion. He came from a broken family and he never liked the idea of spending time with his father and his new family. He confessed that his father’s new family never failed to let him feel out of place. That was the main reason why he always chose to stay in his flat in the holidays.
It dawned on her that she should be thankful for the family God has given to her. She mustn’t have turned everyone down when she wasn’t able to fit in her first three years of school. She shouldn’t have been afraid to trust anyone just because she was bullied when she was young.
She never thought it would be him to make her realize how lucky she is but she refused to accept all of it. She turned the world down. But through him, she was starting to open up.
~love at failed sight~
IT WAS THE second week of February and it was a special day for everyone especially for two people who share mutual feelings for each other. In other words, it was Valentine’s Day.
“Are you free tonight?” He asked through the phone.
“Y-yeah. I guess I am,” She answered a little consciously.
Now it was his time to stutter, “U-uhm… W-will you plan to go out with me? Just a simple d-date, maybe?”
Her heart skipped a beat upon hearing his words. She couldn’t help but giggle like a teenage girl who just felt first love. Apparently, he maybe was her first love. She was a loner and no one ever noticed her. That was until he came.
“Yeah, sure,” She answered casually trying to hide the giddiness she was feeling.
“Okay. I’ll pick you up at 6. Don’t dress too casual but not too formal either.”
~love at failed sight~
“THIS IS AMAZING!” She was mesmerized by the view of the nearby shore as the palm trees on the beach swing by the cool night breeze. He had brought her to the seashore for he knew she liked it so much.
“I’m glad you like it,” He stated in his usual proud tone but this time, his eyes were twinkling and his genuine smile couldn’t be hidden.
“What do you mean, ‘I like it’? I love it!” she replied enthusiastically as they were sitting down a yellow blanket (it was her favourite colour) in the warm sand and having her favourite cake slice which was enclosed in a Tupperware® obviously home-made: blueberry cheesecake.
Then a thought came to her, ‘first, the beach, then a yellow blanket, now a blueberry cheesecake. What’s next?’
“Hot cup of Frap especially ordered for you, m’lady,” He answered her thoughts as he gave her the cup of Joe as if he was proposing to her with an engagement ring.
She was pleased with the idea. However, her usual loner self couldn’t help but spoil the moment just to clarify things, “What’s all this for?”
His trademark smile loosened up a bit and he wonderingly asked, “Huh? What are you talking about? Just sit quietly and eat, Hazel Grace. I made this all for you. I know it’s your favourite.”
“That’s the point!” He knew that in the tone of her voice she needed to know the answers. She didn’t even correct him about calling her Hazel Grace unlike what she usually does.
So he decided to confess to her the revelation that he surely knew would change their lives (and hopefully, their relationship statuses, too).
“I met this girl on the coldest day of winter, a week before Christmas. I was freezing to death that time and I decided that I needed a dose of caffeine though I’d never really been to that Coffee Shop recently. At first, I was about to decline for it was like there was a shopping sale.
“But my body said he really needed something warm; so I still continued to head inside. I was looking for a free seat. At one of the corners, I found a girl engrossed in reading a 21st century book I just read to pass 12th grade literature.
“I walked slowly towards her and asked if I could sit down. When she looked directly at my eyes, I knew that going to that coffee shop was the best decision I’ve ever made that day.”
He was waiting for her to answer and finally, when she did, he came to a realization. She said, “Oh come on! Just cut to the chase because I have no idea on what you’re talking about.”
“Are you really that naïve?” He asked in a tone which blatantly said he couldn’t believe how oblivious this petite girl in front of her could be.
He added, “I like you, Hazel! Actually, no! I love you, Hazel. I am in love with you. Since that day I saw you in that coffee shop until today and until the last day of my life.”
~love at failed sight~
“NO OFFENSE, MISS. But you do know that staring is rude, right? Take a picture, it lasts longer,” the lad in front of her had his eyes wide in horror and he spoke with bemusement and arrogance.
These words completely broke her thoughts about him and she tried to gain gained her composure at last. Her face turned into the greatest shade of beet red knowing that he probably would have seen her drooling over him (well, not literally but it was somehow like that) for the past few minutes.
Upon knowing his arrogant side, she utterly felt disappointed and stupid at the same time. She couldn’t help but ask herself, “why did I have to daydream about a bloke I didn’t even know?’
Suddenly, someone’s phone rang and she noticed him got something out of his pocket. Perhaps, it was his phone. She knew it though she couldn’t and didn’t dare look at his direction after that little (or greatest) embarrassing seen she had just gone through.
“Bye, Miss! I got to go. My girlfriend is waiting for me,” She mentally scoffed at his words. He even emphasized the word girlfriend to her like she was an obsessed stalker. He then scurried out the coffee shop and left her notions rambling.
‘Based on your earlier actuations, you were acting like an obsessed stalker.’
Great! Now her subconscious was siding with him. She couldn’t help but groan on her seat. What was wrong with her? She was completely out of her mind. She sighed and immediately regretted being a desperate, lovesick fool.
But as desperate and ludicrous as she already had been, she still wrote her earlier foreshadowing into paper. She was a writer, after all. Though she knew it would never happen (she didn’t even know his name but Tom suits him accordingly), she knew that she could relive what kind of true love she dreamt of.
For all she could do right now was to write her first and hopefully, last love at failed sight.