Each morning we arrive at the same time. He orders a cafe americano and I order the coffee of the day with room for cream. He’s quiet and courteous. Occasionally I’m rewarded with a shy morning smile as we shuffle by each other in the small space. Occasionally, I reward one of my own.

We never speak.

But I see it… An unmistakable fire burning in his eyes, hidden behind reserved tortoise shell glasses and a gray business suit. He’s so carefully put together….on the outside.

On the inside, another tale burns…. Secrets and desires. Longing and adventure. Passion and hope. Love and loss.

The fire calls out. It questions.

Why do you piece yourself together so meticulously when you know you want so much more? Why do you pack it all in and hold it too tight? Why do you continue to wear the masks of other men’s dreams?

I doctor my beverage two steps away. I can smell the spice of his aftershave over the familiar aroma of roasted coffee beans. He waits, head down with arms crossed politely. They call his name…. Daniel. He nods a quiet thank you as we both turn to leave. He walks ahead of me and holds the door. I nod my own quiet thank you.

We get in our cars and drive off towards the day ahead. He turns right and I turn left.

Each time, I find myself wondering as I drive away, what is it about that man and about that fire….

Who are you really, Daniel?

Why do you hide, like me?

Chelsey Whitlow


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