At the Coffee House

A young man finally gathers up the courage to talk to a girl he often sees at a cafe.


2. Nessa

He was watching me again.

He has come every Thursday without fail for the last two or three months.  He’s usually already there when I arrive.  So he must enter the café sometime before I’d finished my last class of the day for my undergraduate Psychology course, which is Biological Psychology.

He always sat in the back corner of the café with a cup of coffee and a magazine from the stand next to the counter.  His messenger bag was next to his chair as usual.

Today Dr Phillips, my class tutor, gave me top marks for my most recent assignment.  The extra research I did really paid off.  So I decided to treat myself to an iced mocha.  Generally I don’t really like coffee, but I love the mocha that they serve at Marge’s Coffee House.

He seemed to think I didn’t know that he was watching me.  Because I was turned slightly away from him; but I could see him out of the corner of my eye.

I’d noticed him before he started watching me.  He wasn’t the sort of person you didn’t notice; lean and all of six feet, with blonde hair that fell over his blue eyes in an adorable little boy sort of way.

He’s probably a fellow student at the university.  From a different department, otherwise I would have seen him at socials and other student gatherings.

It was kind of nice to be noticed by someone like him.  Even if he took his time introducing himself.

Another quick glance at him told me that he was mentally talking himself into something.  Is going to talk to me today?

He stood up from his table in the back corner of the cafe, taking coffee cup with him and strode up to mine near the front window.

I hoped I looked surprised to him, even if I wasn’t really.

Up close I could see that his eyes were the clear blue of a cloudless sky in winter.

‘Hi, I’m Alrik.’

He spoke with an accent, from one of the Scandinavian countries I think, Sweden perhaps.

I smiled at him. ‘Nessa,’ I replied, offering my hand.

He shook it quite firmly before sitting down in the chair opposite me.

‘You’re Swedish, right?’ I asked.

‘Born and raised,’ he replied.

‘You speak very good English,’ I complimented.

I smiled sheepishly.  ‘Not very well,’ I said.  ‘I’m still learning.’

‘You’re a student?’ I asked.

‘Yes, I’m studying English, as a language,’ he replied.  ‘I’m studying to become a translator.  Or a teacher if I can’t get into translating.  You?’

‘Psychology,’ I replied.

After that we got chatting and getting to know each other, even after we’d finished our drinks.

We have similar interests in music, we even liked the same band Midnatt Sol; I remembered that some of the members were from Sweden.  I didn’t know what the lyrics meant, but I enjoyed their songs all the same.

At one point, I had made the grammatical mistake of saying “gotten” instead of “got”, on which Alrik automatically corrected me.

He said that it usually drove the people he talked to mad because he often corrected their mistakes when speaking; to which I confessed that I was used to as my Dad often corrected me on my spoken English so I was quite used to it

He expressed surprise when I said my favourite television series was Criminal Minds, and said that he thought I would have watched something less violent and gory, like Bones or Castle.  While I admitted that I do actually watch those television series, I preferred Criminal Minds because it seemed more real.  And the psychologies interested me, which I attributed to my studies.

Alrik then asked if I was studying criminal psychology, to which I answered that I hadn’t decided yet; I’m only in my second year after all.

“But I definitely want to go into social psychology or psychoanalysis,’ I said. ‘You know the old Alfred Hitchcock movie Spellbound?’ I then asked.

‘Yes, I do,’ he replied.

‘It’s the film that made me want to study psychology,’ I explained.  ‘I know it’s not very glamorous, but it’s something that I want to do’

‘How do your parents feel about it?’ he asked.

‘My parents don’t really understand the subject, but they’re happy that I’ve found something that I can apply myself in.’

I wasn’t sure if he was following what I was talking about, but he seemed happy to just listen and offer the odd comment or ask what some of the terms I used meant.

At one point, I had made the grammatical mistake of saying “gotten” instead of “got”, on which Alrik automatically corrected me.

He said that it usually drove the people he talked to mad because he often corrected their mistakes when speaking; to which I confessed that I was used to as my Dad often corrected me on my spoken English so I was quite used to it

We moved on to other hobbies and interests.

I found out that he likes to translate English into Swedish and vice versa, which was why he decided to study English and translation.

When I confessed my hobby of physiognomy, or face reading, Alrik challenged me to read him.

I was a bit hesitant to take up the challenge as I was still a beginner, but Alrik insisted.

I suppose I could use this as an opportunity to really study him.  Closely looking at his face, I could see that Alrik had a low forehead and his blue eyes were very deep-set, with thick eyebrows.  He had a wide mouth with medium thin lips.  I remembered when he turned; I had seen that he had a medium strong chin and a straight, very slightly pointed nose.  He also had a strong jawline with an oval chin.  Little things like this in a person’s face tells me a lot about their character, almost as much as psychoanalysing them.


‘You are able to make accurate judgements about people, but you worry too much so you tend to be silent around girls.  You’ve made some bad decisions regarding your love life, and because of this you rarely show your feelings.

‘You have strong opinions about how a lady should be treated, so you mostly likely had a strict but fair upbringing.  You’re an emotional person but you are very practical.

‘When you corrected me on my use of English grammar, it told me that you like to follow the rules, and don’t like it when others don’t,’ she said.  ‘The fact that you tend to order the same thing around the same time on a specific day tells me you like routine.

‘The way you looked at me told me that you really like me,’ she said.  ‘But you seemed afraid to approach me; possibly because you have been rejected before; perhaps several times.’

All through my monologue, I could see Alrik becoming more and more astonished.  Looks like I hit the nail on the head, I thought to myself.

‘Why didn’t you say anything?’ he asked.

‘Because I wanted you to make the first move,’ I was embarrassed to admit.  ‘I’m old fashioned that way.’

Suddenly conscious of the time, I glanced at my watch.  Seeing as it was nearly thirty minutes past five in the evening, I thought that I should get a move on or I wouldn’t be able to make it to dinner with my parents.

‘I have to go now or I’ll be late for dinner,’ I said, stuffing my book into my laptop bag and hefting it onto my handbag and hefting it onto my shoulder. 

Alrik very kindly asked to walk me to the bus stop, even if it was only across the road. The bus pulled up just as we’d stepped onto the pavement.

‘Same time next week?’ I asked.

‘Yes, same time,’ he replied.

I stepped up onto the bus and displayed my ticket to the driver before moving to a seat facing the street so I could see Alrik.  I waved to him as the bus started moving away.

I watched him until he was out of sight.

I smiled to myself as I settled back into my seat.  Maybe this will be the start of something new.


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