Love at first sight?

Photo via Google under the Creative Commons license

Photo via Google under the Creative Commons license

Isabelle Brookshire and Mary Nassar

Written by Isabelle

Soft touches of sunlight fall through stained glass in mosaic. Berry-colored glass perch in every window, the medley of colors pouring into the warm-colored wood inside. Permeating the scene around me, aromatic coffee, tea, and the words of strangers begin to distract me. Now, I finally relent. Unfortunately, work and studying have no room in my mind today. What better way to procrastinate than psychoanalyzing the world around me? There’s no better way, I promise.

I sip on my piping black spice tea and gaze around the shop. There’s a barista busying themselves with an espresso, a fellow student with their head in their hands, three friends enthusiastically conversing, a little kid kicking their legs while reading a book, and an old couple—hand in handordering together. There are also two other baristas whispering to each other behind the countertop. They giggle and fuss over one another, one of their stares lingering a bit too long on the other person. I smile to myself. Early Saturday morning and the cafe is already bursting with life. I muse to myself—isn’t it bizarre that whatever they’ve done in their lives has led them to this moment, exactly? Or even how after they leave this cafe, they’ll continue on with the rest of their lives? Or maybe even-

Ah. Nevermind. I have things to do. Nice job at being productive. It’s not like philosophizing will help me finish the stuff on my to-do list for me. With another sip of my tea, I return to my work. 

Or try to.

The front door opens, letting in unfiltered, dandelion light into the cafe. Before observing anyone else anymore, I put my eyes back on my work. I really don’t have time to waste. 

“Hello? Can I order a hot cocoa? Marshmallows. With cinnamon over the top? Yes, yes. Thank you.”

Okay, I had to look up—don’t blame me, I can’t help it. I just love wondering about other people. Plus, I order my hot chocolate the same way. 

I lift my eyes up and catch them giving their money to the barista (the one the other barista was staring at for too long). But when I turn my focus back onto the newcomer, I start to stare strangely. There’s something oddly magnetic about them. I can’t place it. Maybe it’s their mannerisms or… Oh. 

I catch their eyes. And it’s suddenly like I’m suffocating or drowning and I’m trying to come up for air but I have to tear my eyes away. Oh, why did they look like that? Why are they so…

Whatever, it’s fine. I’m just a little insecure, that’s all. Can’t bear a little staring, can I?

I look back up only to find them across the room with their head down. Waiting for their drink. Understandable. 

I can’t take my eyes off of them, though. Really, something about them is so captivating. It’s like I’m on the edge of my seat whenever I look at them. 

They turn their head to get their drink and once again, their eyes raise to mine. 

God, now I can’t help it. I allow myself to notice the rays of red and marigold light that dance across their face and illuminate their newborn curl of a smile. Those same rays catch in their eyes, glinting like velvet-dressed almandine in a pool of aging autumn leaves. They whisper—whisper—a goodbye to the person behind the counter, their eyes stuck on mine, like trees to their branches before they have to let go. Their smile ages and grows in response to my awe. Their last gaze catches like flint to steel, to me, I burn. 

As the door shuts behind them, I let out the air I was holding. My eyes scramble down, away from everyone and everything. What was that


Written by Mary

As I hand over a few crumpled dollar bills to the barista, I glance around the bustling cafe, my eyes catching theirs from across the room.

And my body seems to





My heart forgets to beat at a steady rhythm and instead sprints and leaps and flies and soars, my hands start to sweat — and then my forehead starts to sweat and the cafe is suddenly too hot and I’m burning up! — and my eyes seem to see nothing but them and Time stands still — so still you’d think it was stopping just for us — and there’s only them and me and no one else as if we are the last two humans left in the world and the only thing keeping us alive is this staring contest we find ourselves in. 

Their eyes quickly slide away from mine, allowing for Time to resume and jolting me back to reality. I hear someone calling my name, and I turn to see the barista giving me an odd look and handing me my receipt. A rose red flush blooms on my cheeks, and I graciously accept the receipt and move out of the line, so I can wait for my hot chocolate. 

Standing off to the side of the counter, I resist the urge to look up and find the beautiful stranger’s wandering eyes again. So I keep my head down. Eyes to the ground. Just waiting for my drink. Not for their eyes to grace mine with their gaze. No, just simply waiting for my drink.

But when the barista calls me to pick up my order, and I go to grab the hot cocoa from their hands, my eyes roam across the room against my wishes and find their eyes again. 

I finally understand why people call it eye contact.

And I don’t know what to do because it feels like I’m about to have a heart attack but I’ve never had a heart attack so I wouldn’t know what a heart attack feels like but if I were having a heart attack it would probably most definitely feel like this because my breaths are coming in too shallow, my heart seems to think it’s sprinting in the New York Marathon, my sweat glands seem to think I’m sweltering in the heat of the Sahara Desert, and my eyes seem to forget all propriety because they won’t leave the stranger’s eyes alone, even when the seconds melt away into eons, even when I’ve been staring at them way too long to be socially acceptable, even when I whisper goodbye to the barista and turn to leave, my eyes are the ever faithful spouse, loyal until death do us part.

And the fact that their eyes are ever faithful to mine as well makes my lips break their seal to offer them a soft, shy smile. A peace offering.

They offer their own radiant, sunshine smile, and it’s physically painful to wrench my gaze away and allow the door of the cafe to shut behind me, as if it was shutting me away from whatever happened in there. And yet, sipping on my hot chocolate, thinking about those bright, sparkling eyes I realize:

I am a weary traveler who has finally found home. 

I had just never realized home could be a person.

Much less that person’s eyes.