The clock ticked loudly on the wall. It was far too early to be awake, or far too late to be, whichever way you see it. Soon it would probably be getting daylight. Jenny wondered how much sleep she’d actually had recently. Not enough, she felt – but what could she do? She didn’t feel tired enough to sleep, but nor did she feel awake enough to actually be awake.
She dressed and got out of bed, and opened the window into the cold December air. It had even started to snow. She looked at the man that was laying in her bed. She didn’t know what it was that she was doing with him, yet she knew her feelings for him were somewhat true, despite many a time feeling it wasn’t right. Anyway; it wasn’t like they were married or anything. She kissed him on the forehead to be nice, and brushed his medium-length red hair out of the way of his face. He stirred, but didn’t awake. He hadn’t been well recently, cold and flu season you see, but he was getting better – he still needed his sleep, though; so at least he wasn’t the one awake at a strange hour without really having had much sleep in the first place.
She decided a walk would take her mind off things she had been thinking about, either that or help her sort it – and if neither of those… maybe, just maybe, she would be able to get some proper sleep when she came back. Who was she? Where she was going? What did she really want, and why? Those sort of things. A quick note in case he awoke informed him she was just popping out for a walk and would be back soon.
After wrapping up in what seemed like 100 layers, but was actually just several (including hat, scarf and gloves), she quietly opened the front door, making sure she had her door key on her, and stepped outside.
A long walk was in order, although it was really cold and she wasn’t keen on cold weather generally, not that she liked really hot weather either. The snow had fallen lightly by now, and was still falling. To her surprise she wandered all the way to some shops, restaurants, cafes etc. It was now 6.15am, the majority of places would still be shut for hours yet, but there was one small cafe, called “Birds and Owls” referring to early birds and night owls, it would open half 6 in the morning and close at half 1am. They were trying to to make it completely 24 hours, but for now were just testing out the inventive idea for a cafe that is like no other. It was only newly open too, so select few new about it. She hadn’t known about it until she got here, she had just walked until she found somewhere to go. One man stood outside, also wrapped up very warm. He had long brown hair, like her own. He looked to be around her age, although she never really tried to guess people’s ages, but figured probably 20-something like herself. They stood in silence but then, since there was nothing to do for 15 minutes while awaiting opening time, the boy said “Hello”.
“Hey”, Jenny said
“I was up all night studying and then when I was taking a break, I read in a local blog about this place being newly opened, came down to check it out. How did you find out about this place?”
Jenny was quite shy, especially when meeting people for the first time, but she did like to be sociable, and this boy seemed very nice, so she tried her hardest to fight the shyness.
“I actually couldn’t sleep very well, not because of studying though. Just came out for a walk, and just happened upon this place by chance, I hadn’t heard about it. What do you study?”
“Music, mostly. Though I like to dabble. Do you not read the local blog then?”
“Music is great, do you play any instruments? I read a few, on and off, but I guess I need to keep more up to date”
“I do in fact play guitar, do you play any?”
“Guitar, a bit. Though I haven’t really done any for awhile. I love it though, it’s probably my favourite instrument”
“Awesome! Seems like we may have a fair bit in common. Any reason you couldn’t sleep?”
“Oh, I don’t know – just happens sometimes”
“Tell me about it! I guess if they had a cafe that was open from, say, midnight right through the night and closed at morning, it could be called ‘Insomniacs’ or something – though they aren’t my own words they were written in that blog I read. I’d definitely go though, I’m often awake at night, and I heard rumours they’re trying to make this place 24 hours if it works as it is. I do hope so!”
“Yeah, I’m definitely the ‘Owl’ part of this cafe! I really will have to read these local blogs more often, and I do hope the cafe works”
As they were talking, the owner of the cafe came to open it. They were still the only 2 customers going in, and Jenny said “Has it been 15 minutes already?”, the boy laughed and said
“I guess so. Would you care to sit with me and continue this chat. Tell you what, I’ll even buy you a drink – what would you like?”
“Thank you, and yes that would be cool. I’d like a hot chocolate please”
He ordered 2 hot chocolates and they sat down together.
They continued talking for ages. There were a few silences, which is to be expected though. He told her he was actually quite shy too, but just had been trying very hard for many years to not be so bad, and the more he practised the more he thought he got better at it. She said that she sometimes did hope she was better than she used to be, and she too liked to try and practise but at the same time she said that it tended to vary.
He revealed his name was Paul. They were both same the age (25), although he was a few months older than her. They even had breakfast there, and then some cake. A few other people came to the cafe after an hour or so, but it was still nice and not too busy. Jenny even felt happier than she had in awhile, this guy just seemed really nice, friendly – and at the same time he felt happier too, and thought she seemed really nice and friendly.
After awhile, he said “I should probably get back, get some sleep. Starting to feel really tired. I really want to see you again, though”
“Yes, I really want to see you again, too” and with that, they swapped numbers, and left. They actually didn’t live too far from each other, but they went separate directions.
The walk home was that much more cheery for her. It wasn’t too long a walk, and just thinking about Paul made her feel warmer. She was glad she had been wandering around.
Jenny went back to bed when she got in. Mark had left a note (the man who had been in her bed, who wasn’t her boyfriend but was a friend who was a boy – and they didn’t always have a fully platonic relationship, but he wasn’t her everything and she knew that). The note read “Hope you enjoyed the walk, don’t know what time you left or when you’ll be back, but I had to get home – got a busy day. Have fun and we can hook up when I’m free x”.
As soon as she had read it she got a text from Paul, that read: “Hey Jenny, I’m home now. Are you? Need a few hours sleep!! Do hope to see you soon. I’m free later, even. Thought we could check out the cafe at night, if you fancy it? If you do, I can head down for 10pm. If not, see you soon x”. Butterflies raced in her stomach. She knew exactly what was going on. She did want this guy as a friend, but she knew she had a crush on him too. She hoped he felt the same. She replied: “Yeah, I’m heading to bed now – just got in. Tonight sounds cool! See you about 10 outside cafe x”.
“Can’t wait, have a good sleep x” came the reply
“Me neither, and thanks – you too x” she sent.
She woke a few hours later. Finally some proper sleep. The first she thought of was Paul. She hoped he had had a good night sleep too. She kept herself busy during the day, and soon 9pm came around. To make sure she’d be on time she got ready and set off, though it wasn’t quite an hours walk. She was there just before 10pm, and he was there just at 10pm. When he found out she was there first he said “Sorry I wasn’t early!”, she smiled and said she’d only been there 5 minutes and don’t be silly you were right on time. They went inside. The cafe was now buzzing, and lit with brightly coloured fairly lights and playing music. They sat down with tropical non-alcoholic cocktails. “Did you sleep well earlier?” she asked
“Yes thanks, did you?”
“I did actually!”
They talked on and on, until he admitted that he would like to be more than just friends, though he said there was no rush for this to happen as he was enjoying getting to know her a bit more first. She was so happy. She’d had relationships that didn’t work out, or were too complicated for even her to understand. She’d had one night stands that ultimately left her feeling a mix of happy but then sad. She’d had crushes from afar. Now though, it seemed simple. They weren’t going to rush into dating, nor be just friends, nor just get into bed together once and that be it. Best of all, she actually was getting to know her crush not just wishing she was. She agreed, and he told her he was very happy to hear it as he was afraid of rejection.
They stayed until closing time. They then had their first kiss, and said goodbye and went home. They both went straight to sleep, which was unusual for both of them. It was almost like they had found what they were looking for.
After a week they were seeing each other fairly regularly, getting to know each other better – they did have a lot in common.
When, after 2 weeks, they did go to bed together, it was awesome.
The cafe even became 24 hours, and became a regular hang out for them. Although they went lots of places together.
Jenny, and Paul actually, were still trying to figure out what they wanted, completely – but they knew one thing, they had found something pretty special.
So – next time you are feeling confused, lost, or something like that. Maybe take a break. Go for a wander, even. You might be surprised at what you find.