Unconditional

Unconditional

I see him everyday. He’s with this girl that never values him, and I can see that. Sometimes I add extra whipped cream to his fancy coffee just because. Specially on days like this.

He looks tired. I’m not his barista today, I’m working in the kitchen but I can see him. He sits at his usual spot, by the window, laptop open in front of him, clicking away madly, trying to make more money, presumably.

I know he’s proposed to her already: I’ve seen her livestream. And I know she doesn’t like the tiny one carat diamond because I saw her nose wrinkle and I know he’s promised her more carats once he’s richer. Because her caption said: “This is the ring he proposed to me with guys! He says he’s gonna get me a five carat one next year, yay!” I guess that’s something all influencers must do. What would I know, anyway? I’m only a barista that does college assignments between breaks. Not even in the influencer neighborhood.

My boss asks me to see if our favorite customer would like to try our new cheesecake. I comply, happily. The boy says sure and gives me a perfunctory smile without looking. A part of me deflates.

I go get a piece and take the cheesecake to him and I say it’s on the house. And my boss says that every time I give away free food, he’s gonna give me a smaller paycheck, but that’s fine by me. This boy is worth all the cheesecakes in the world.

I’m standing there and waiting like an idiot, waiting for him to take a bite and tell me if it’s good cake and he gets uncomfortable as heck and hastily takes a bite. His whole face changes. He actually looks at me.

“Whoa,” he says, “this is some good shit.”

“It’s my recipe!” I blurt out before I can stop myself.

He smiles.

“This is my new favorite. I hope it’s permanently sitting at the head of the menu. Is that a thing even?”

This is the longest conversation we’ve had and I’m about to say something when influencer fiancée walks in, heels clicking away smartly, and I’m sharply brought back to earth and I slip away like bad internet on a stormy day.

I go back to the utensil hole I came out of. Back to reality. Watching them from a safe distance, watching them together. Looking at what could have been. But accidents happen and you lose your memories and he’s lost memories of me and he had a blank canvas in his head and he is holding it together – or faking it for her, as I can see.

I’ve loved him since I was a freshman in high school, and he doesn’t remember me. And I didn’t refresh his memory. If he was given a brand new start and a brand new girl, isn’t that how it’s supposed to be? Shouldn’t I stay away, like I’m meant to, because I’m just a barista to him, and not someone he was once in love with? Isn’t that what love teaches you? To let someone go? To only see, but never touch, unless it’s something that’s meant to be? To make sure that it is – as they say – unconditional?