Carpe Diem – Coffee and Cake (Chp3)

Welcome to the third chapter of this blogs serial story! If you haven’t read chapter 1 or chapter 2 then check them out.

Since Saph’s wake nearly a week ago Alice had seen no sign of her and as the days passed, she began to wonder if she had hallucinated the whole thing. Alice had been looking online and discovered that seeing the ghost of someone you were close with could be a coping mechanism, your minds way of protecting your heart – or something like that. Still, no amount of online diagnosis could stop Alice waking up every morning and watching out the window as people hurried about their lives, hoping that one of them would be Saph.
This morning was no different. She awoke, made herself a coffee and sat watching out the window, waiting. Saph always did like to make you wait. Alice had always thought that Saph found some form of pleasure from it. Knowing that everything revolved around her. Thinking back to school there wasn’t ever a single lesson Saph showed up to on time. She was 8 minutes late to everything – Damon and Alice used to call it SLT (Saph’s local time).
As she sat looking out of the window Alice’s mind began to wonder. Following her embarrassing moment at Saph’s wake Damon had messaged her. At first, he just messaged checking that she was alright but as time went on the pair began to enjoy talking to one another –as if a little piece of Saph lived on between them. Alice had no idea how she was supposed to tell Damon that Saph was coming back without sounding insane, so decided against saying anything. She thought it would be easier to explain if Saph was there with her. Surely, he couldn’t call her crazy when the truth was staring him square in the face. Alice liked speaking to Damon, he reminded her of a time when life was fresh and simple. He reminded her of a time when the only worry she had was getting homework in on time. He became Alice’s escape. Which was why the pair decided to meet for a coffee this afternoon – for old times’ sake.
Alice got up from her chair and got dressed, she didn’t make any special effort because it wasn’t a date. It was just two friends getting a drink. Anyway, Saph had told her that Damon was gay. Alice pulled her hair into a ponytail and scurried out the door. Even as a teenager she had never seen the appeal of driving and so had never learnt. It wasn’t an issue – living in London there was the tube anyway. Alice walked from her flat to the train station before scanning herself through the barrier and waiting on the platform.
She had been waiting for less than a minute when a large man stood next to Alice. It was early on a Sunday and the tube platform was relatively empty which only made the man, who stunk of body odour, a greater irritant. Discretely, Alice stepped away from him and wondered down the platform. A minute later the train pulled up and she climbed on board. The train was quiet, for the underground that was, and so Alice found a seat with ease but moments later, the man was sat beside her. Alice let out a sigh before searching through her bag for my earphones.
“Alice don’t freak out.” He said.
Her head shot round to look at him. For a moment she wondered how he knew her name but then it struck her, “Saph?” Alice asked.
“Yeah its me.”
“But you’re … a man” Alice said.
He rolled his eyes in the sarcastic manner unique to Saph and any doubt Alice had that this man wasn’t her best friend disappeared. Alice’s mouth had dropped open and as hard as she tried it seemed impossible for her to close it. Saph, on the other hand, seemed unphased by her new appearance and was carrying on as if nothing had changed.
“Yeah it’s not the best sitch but whatever. It’s not permeant – thank god. You know I’ve showered three times today and I just can’t get rid of this stench. I just need to wait to get the call that there are more suits up there and I’ll be out of this one sharp. So anyway, where we heading?” She asked.
Alice had so many questions to ask her. She wanted to know how she had found her or if she must climb inside of the body suit like you would a bunny costume. Alice wanted to ask her if she could hear how insane she sounded or why she thought Alice would be cool with her tagging along. But then it struck her. All these things, the insane rambling, the presumptuous behaviour and the relaxed nature in the face of crazy situations were all Saph qualities and Alice couldn’t have been happier to have her back in her life. She also found it weirdly enjoyable to know Saph was stuck in the body of a fat sweaty guy she would usually be judging. Just as Alice came to terms with what was happening the train pulled into the station. She got up and moved towards the door and Saph followed, Alice realised that in the same way Saph was stuck with that suit, Alice was stuck with Saph.
“So, we’re meeting Damon for a coffee.” Alice explained as she hurried through the station. Alice found herself darting instinctively between the busy commuters as she headed for the exit, running up the stairs and avoiding eye contact with the begging homeless man. As she turned back to talk to Saph, Alice realised she wasn’t there. She looked about for a moment, wondering where she had gone before seeing Saph in the distance. She was stood at the top of the stairs, covered in a commuter’s coffee, panting and sweating profusely. Alice laughed to herself again. She loved watching her gym addicted best friend struggling to climb the stairs – it was too ironic not to enjoy.
“Wow gal slow it down a tad.” Saph said as she caught Alice up.
A smile grew on Alice’s face slightly before apologising and spending the rest of her journey consciously travelling at a slower pace. Alice explained the Damon situation to Saph and she seemed to understand it. Saph reminded Alice that she would have done anything to go back to simpler times, times when she wasn’t a dead guardian angel who was obese and trapped in the wrong body. Alice laughed a little to herself before the pair headed into the coffee shop. She spent a minute looking around before spotting Damon sat in a corner booth.
“Hey!” He said, waving Alice down. She walked over to him and wrapped her arms around his shoulders giving him a squeeze. “Who’s this?” He asked gesturing to Saph.
“Sa…” Alice began before being interrupted.
“Sam. Alice’s lover.” Saph clarified.
Alice’s body was overcome with shock, it radiated through to her toes and finger tips. After a moment Alice realised that her mouth had dropped back open again and the horror of the thought was clear across her face. Alice hesitated before shutting her mouth and smiling sweetly, quietly wishing the moment away. Damon’s face was also a picture. Looking more shocked than Alice, Damon’s face squirmed as it battled back its primal urge to show how distasteful he found her choice in partner. He spent a moment looking the obese, sweating, hairy man up and down searching for what Alice might have seen in him. After a moment of confusion Damon offered up a hand for Saph to shake. Looking at Saph it became immediately apparent that she was enjoying this. She was grinning from ear to ear and had a cheeky glimmer in her eye. She took no time in taking Damon’s offered hand and placing a gentle kiss on the back of it.
“pleasure.” Saph said, winking at her uncomfortable ex. Alice couldn’t help but giggle quietly at the exchange.
Damon on the other hand did not seem to see the funny side. Sliding his hand from Saph’s grip he looked at Alice for help before making his excuses. Damon offered to go and get coffee’s while Alice and Saph took a seat but with a second look at Saph, or Sam, he decided cake might also be needed.
“Why did you say that?” Alice said, hitting Saph in her jelly like tummy.
“Well you were going to tell him that the man before him was called Saph. And I happen to like the name Sam.” She teased.
Alice rolled her eyes. “No. not that, why did you tell Damon we were a couple?”
“thought it would be funny.” She said. As she spoke she reached across for the napkin on the other side of the table and began to tear it into strips. Alice watched in awe. It was strange, Saph looked completely different but at the same time she was the same. Ever since the pair had been young you couldn’t give Saph a napkin without her tearing it into strips and piling them one on top of another. It was a habit even a guardian angel seemed unable to shake.
“It’s not funny.” Alice clarified.
“Oh, lighten up.” She said. “Wait… Al, I’ll be right back.”
“Where are you going.”
“I got the call. There are new suits in. I thought I’d have to wait a few days to get out of this one but looks like I’m in luck. I need somewhere private. I’m going to the toilet.” She said in a frenzy rushing off in a puff.
Alice’s head was spinning as she watched her best friend/ guardian angel/ unwanted lover dart off towards the coffee shop bathrooms. At first Saph went towards the girl’s bathrooms, forgetting that to the rest of the world she was a rather hefty man. A few moments, and a few screams, later she re-emerged and made her way towards the men’s toilets. She hesitated staring at the door as if it were a decision she knew she would regret. Her imagination was running wild, anyone could have told you that. Moments later she gave up and decided to take the third option – the disabled toilet. Swinging open the door she nearly knocked a pensioner off her feet.
“where’d your boyfriend go?” Damon asked as he sat down, balancing three coffees and three pieces of cake on a very small tray.
Alice swallowed the lump in her throat which she seemed to get every time she lied. “He just needed the toilet.”
“Look, Alice don’t think I don’t know what’s going on here. The stripped napkin, the name Sam, the weird streak …” Alice’s heart thudded in her chest as she realised that he had recognised Saph, “You’re missing Saph.” He said.
“Yes.” Alice spluttered. “That’s exactly it.” He laughed and explained that he had known her too long and that he saw straight through Alice’s crisis. He chuckled a little and made a few comments about her standards having dropped since he last knew her. Alice cringed as she lied to him explaining that it had been so hard for her before quickly trying to change the subject. After half an hour the conversation was flowing naturally, and Alice was convinced that Damon had forgotten about ‘Sam’.
“Has Sam fallen down the loo?” He laughed. Alice had been wrong. Just as he spoke the bathroom door re-opened and their mouths dropped as they saw who came out.

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