Determined Resolve Among Rocks
He opened the doors to discover the cafe bustling with loud people. The woman just inside the door noticed Nick's entrance and tried to usher herself a little closer to the counter so he could comfortably stand in line behind her and the myriad of people already waiting. It looked like a long line and as Nick perused the back of each person's head he got a little nervous. All the worrying, doubting, second guessing, and fear he had pushed out of his mind were quickly rushing past his determination. The fifteen minutes out in the parking lot felt like a waste of time.
The resolve he built moments before seemed like a July snow at midday.
As Nick's gaze neared the counter an intensified thumping grew in his chest and it began to hurt like the time his partner had fallen on him at practice. Jerome was there, running back and forth between the bar and the line.
Watching only made things a little worse. Jerome was perfect. Tall, dark, and handsome weren't enough to describe him. Oh no: Nick saw something deeper which made his body tingle. Maybe it was his smile which genuinely pierced through to his heart, or the way he walked with confidence and pride even if he made a mistake. Perhaps it was in his eyes which lit up when he recognized someone, knew who and what they wanted, or spoke with them as if they were his best friend. These reasons weren't what made Nick nervous.
It appeared like this day was one of Jerome's bad days. His lips were tight, his eyes were turned away from most of the customers, his voice sounded strained, and that prideful walk seemed rushed and frantic. Assessing the appearance of the three girls with him, a beautiful blond woman and Jerome's best friend (Nick had realized) on bar and a gorgeous curly haired girl at the register, only reaffirmed that everyone was having a frazzled sort of day. It was oddly busy for an early afternoon.
I can do this tomorrow... Nick thought to himself.
His partner's face popped into his mind's eye: her smile stretched across her dark skin, hair pulled back into a tight bun, tall and skinny legs constructing her body into a relaxed pose. "Come on Nick. You can do this," her voice rang out.
Lowering his eyes from the display of stressed baristas, Nick focused on the distraction in his mind. "But he obviously isn't having a good day. I don't want to... You know, mess up an opportunity," he said to his partner.
Her image changed into her cheerleader's uniform: black tights, a yellow belt, and a red and yellow shirt with the "Sun" logo on the chest. Her smile broadened. "Nick, I'm your rock. You're my mountain. You can do this."
Every time she said this Nick felt a surge of something within him. He always suspected she was in tune with something outside his understanding of the world. She had started saying her little idiom when Nick's fear of lifting her overcame his resolve. She had tried explaining to him once and what Nick understood wasn't much more than the fact that a rock is the base of a mountain, but the strength lies within the immovability of the mountain; therefore a mountain is but the rocks that make it and share in the strength of the combination of the smaller pieces. Thus, she wanted Nick to take her strength and see it in himself. There was something she mentioned about the power of the earth beneath the mountain too, but his mind hurt even after hearing this short explanation.
Nick waited in line behind some twenty or so people. The paper in his hand still felt firm despite the sweat that was now forming. Each step forward made him feel a little more nervous, but he kept telling himself I am my rock. I am my mountain. At one point Nick looked down to make sure he looked at his best. He wore his best tennis shoes that matched his bluejeans in style: rustic and slightly washed. The tight jeans, which he enjoyed because they showed off his muscular legs, ran up past a black belt to his tight black shirt which accented his body perfectly. He couldn't see his face, but he was sure he looked nervous.
"I am my rock. I am my mountain," he whispered to himself as he sighed, eyes closed. When he opened them again, he felt his face relax and smile a little.
Jerome walked to the end of the counter and said, "Hey Nick! I haven't seen you in a while. How are you doing?" His smile was sweet. His eyes had come alive again, but held a sort of curiosity in them. He leaned forward on the counter, hands together, as he waited for Nick's reply. His eyes stared directly at Nick with such intensity it took Nick half a second to realize what was going on. Nick's stomach had decided to go on a roller coaster, empty and hungry as it was, and started feeling like it had jumped out of an airplane.
"Oh. I'm good. I've been really busy and haven't been able to, you know, get in as often. How are you?" he added with enthusiasm.
"I'm doing alright. It's been busy all day. Just nonstop since I got here. Crazy. What are you up to today?" He still hadn't asked for Nick's drink.
Nick's smile was timid. "Nothing really."
"Well hopefully you'll find something interesting to do for me."
Nick could only smile and blush a little. He kept standing tall, kept his relaxed poise as best he could, but he felt his hands shaking slightly.
"Are we getting your white mocha today?"
"Yeah. That sounds great!"
"Hot or cold then?" he asked. Jerome knew Nick well.
"How about cold? It's a nice day after all..."
"You got it! That'll be right up." And Jerome was off with an added skip in his step.
Nick's stomach returned and settled with a heaviness that was just as unsettling as its little adventure. It was only moments before it was startled again.
"Nick!" came a voice from behind him. He turned and saw his partner walking through the door, face bright and mischievous. "Mind if I join you?"
"Dira, what are you doing?"
"I thought I would come and get some coffee. That alright?" She smiled and looked up at him as she joined him in line, bypassing about ten people. Nick noticed her hand was holding something smooth.
"I suppose so."
Jerome was back and noticed Dira. "Hey there. What can I get for you?"
Dira looked at Nick and smiled even broader. "Oh, I don't know. What should I get, Nick?"
Nick blushed and looked at Jerome whose smile was overwhelming. Nick's stomach was gone again. "You know the green tea I order with my white mocha?"
"Oh yeah! Medium half sweetened green tea coming up." Before he left, he looked at Dira and said, "Hi, I'm Jerome."
She giggled slightly. "Oh, I know. I'm Dira. It's a pleasure to meet you finally."
"Dira!" Nick whispered harshly.
Jerome left again, head bowed slightly as if in slight embarrassment for himself. "You're fine, Nick. It looks like you didn't need my help after all."
"I already had plenty of help from you."
"Oh did you?"
"You're my rock. I'm your mountain."
She pushed him slightly. "Ha! That's why I'm here, and I didn't even really want a tea today." She laughed jovially. "Well, if things go south, I'll be here for you too. But I don't think I'll need to worry much." She moved ahead of him. "Here, lets pay!"
"Oh, don't worry about it today, guys. I've got you covered," Jerome said, standing right behind his curly haired coworker. Nick looked at Jerome and caught him wink playfully.
"Thanks..." Nick didn't know what to say.
Dira stood on her tiptoes and whispered, "Not yet... come on."
Moving off to the side, Nick watched with his peripheral vision as Jerome moved onto the bar to prepare drinks. The tall blond girl moved off to get everyone's orders. Nick stood off to the side as he waited for the people ahead to get there drinks so he could make his move. His hands were shaking harder now.
Three drinks were handed off and finally Nick felt confident enough to step forward.
"Hey, Jerome. I, uh, wanted to give you this."
Jerome looked over and smiled. "What is it?" he said with feigned curiosity.
"My number. I was hoping you would be interested in dinner or something... sometime...?"
Jerome's friend nudged him slightly closer. Nick saw her smile as she kept her eyes down. "Well... I'm due to get off here in fifteen... Would you like to go get a small bite now?" His eyes were bright and happy.
"Yeah! That would be great."
Jerome let that hang in the air for a minute, smiling as he finished the white mocha. "Here you go," he said as he handed off the drink, winking in the process. "I'll be out in a minute then."
The coworker handed off a green tea to Dira, who grabbed both it and Nick and moved off to a chair to sit in. After they were seated and she had taken her first sip, Dira said casually, "The energies have granted fortitude in moments earth-shattering and sublime. You two are meant to be together, here and now you know."
"How do you know that?" Nick asked, finally distracted from Jerome.
Dira simply smiled, her eyes hidden and distant. The smooth object was nowhere to be seen. Nick could only smile at her, the thought of being around Jerome flooding his senses once more.