It was the best sorbet in town. That was what he told me. I didn’t believe him but I said, ‘sure’. From two weeks of messaging, he didn’t seem like the kind of person who would know much about desserts. The sudden ability to name a cafe–after I called myself a sweet-tooth–was obviously aided by the internet. Still, I wanted to give him a chance. He could be the one after all.
“I’ll have the Tangy Tangerine,” I told the waiter.
“Just black coffee for me,” he said.
Out of the variety of treats on the menu, he ordered ‘just black coffee’. No cake, pie, or sorbet caught his attention. As I suspected, he was as boring as the curtains against the red brick walls–patternless and grey.
“Just coffee?” I asked, after the waiter left.
“I don’t do desserts.”
“Not even chocolate?”
What was I expecting? Right as he walked in, in his plain deep-blue shirt paired with black jeans, my assumptions were right. He wasn’t dressed to the nines nor was he sloppy, but he was dull. A straightforward and no-frills-attached kind of a guy–the kind I was actually looking for.
“So, how did you learn about this place?” I asked.
“Oh, I thought you looked it up on Google,” I admitted with a chuckle.
“I didn’t. I’ve actually been here. It’s a nice cafe,” he stated.
It was a decent joint, but oddly quiet on a bustling day. Despite it being an easy place to find–nestled in the heart of the city–there was no other customer in sight. How does a place as such survive? That thought baffled me, but only for a brief moment.
“It’s a gem–this cafe–unlike any other. There’s no free wifi. The service is fast. And–this might surprise you–it isn’t listed on the internet,” he added.
“But… is the sorbet really good?”
“The others say so. I’ve never tried it myself.”
He nodded. I contemplated asking about the number of people he had previously invited to this hidden gem. But when our orders arrived, I decided it was better not to know.
“So, shall we begin?” he prompted.
“Let’s start easy: how long have you been on this quest?”
“Quest?” I chuckled. “Long enough.”
“And how many have you met?”
He nodded. Unlike me, he chose to be informed. But, I didn’t hold it against him. In this game, more wasn’t always better. At least from his perspective, more could mean danger.
“Three,” I answered.
“How much did you divulge?”
“Just the picture.”
“That’s good to know. I would tell you how many people I’ve met before you, but I don’t want to scare you.”
“I don’t want to know–ignorance is bliss.”
“Then in this case, you shouldn’t.”
“But if I did want to know-”
“You can trust my profile,” he interrupted. “I’m not an open book, but what I say is the truth.”
Challenging his confidence, I dipped the metal spoon into my melting sorbet. I had forgotten about it–preoccupied with the purpose of our meeting.
“Go ahead,” he prompted. And just as I had my first taste of the not-overly sweet, fine-crushed ice, he said, “I told you.”
I chuckled–he was right.
“Now, can I see the picture?” he asked.
For the past few months, I had been carrying the picture with me. It was taken by a beach one summer ago, framing two friends about to be sisters–I was in a yellow, floral sundress while she donned a frilly blue top, as the sun dipped into the horizon behind us. But the day that picture was taken, she disappeared. If only I had suspected, I wouldn’t be spending the afternoon with another stranger.
Placing the picture on the table, he swept it up and slipped it into his pocket. Then, he asked, “Name and age?”
“Bethany, twenty-seven. Do you need her full name?”
“No, Bethany would do.”
“Are you sure you can find her?”
“I’m sure. But I’ll only start searching once I see the money.”
“My father is preparing the cash. I’ll be able to get it to you by the end of this week.”
“You can drop it off here.”
“In this cafe?”
He nodded. It was only then I understood why the cafe was barren. But while I hesitated to take another look around, he asked, “What do you want me to do once I find her?”
“I…well… I just…”
The answer was easy. I wasn’t able to request my desire blatantly, but I knew what needed to be done. If only she didn’t betray my trust. If only she paid for her crime. As much as I didn’t want to take justice into my own hands, I had to. If not for her, my brother would still be alive.
“I want to say goodbye,” I said.
“Well then, enjoy your sorbet,” he replied. “It’s on the house.”
As he rose from his seat, leaving behind an untouched cup of black coffee, I knew I would never see him again. And just like my silent bid to Bethany, I wished him farewell… and good-luck.
Sorbet, curtains, and farewell were words given by Patty Uy on Facebook. I remember Patty asking for a romance story with her previous three words. So, I decided to give her another but with a twist.
Now, it’s your turn! You have until the end of March to write a story of your own with the three words given. Anything can happen with these three words. Hopefully, yours isn’t about revenge too.
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3 Words, 1 Story © 2018 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.
(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)