Flash: Dual Impressions (Reflections Part 2)

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Perkie has a happy cartoon coffee mug painted on the plate glass window. Inside, a small coffee counter displays oversized pastries, a list of overpriced coffee and tea product handwritten on black glass with colorful markers, and only one customer sitting at one of the undersized tables, balancing a laptop and coffee. He looked as cute as his profile picture on the dating app. The high-top fade kept the black curls proud, perfect to run fingers through, and an entirely kissable mouth surrounded by a trimmed beard and mustache. His eyes in the profile had been dark and sparkling with mischief. I couldn’t wait to see them in person.

I look at my reflection in the glass door, raising an eyebrow. We smile encouragement at each other, and I enter the coffee shop.

The man looks up when I enter and gives me a wink. I giggle, I admit it, even at thirty, and headed to the counter. A thin high school kid came out of the back and takes my order for a caramel latté sprinkled with cinnamon. The mirrored finish on the machines at the counter provides one last look at my appearance. The wind had smashed the afro around during the walk from the subway but a quick fluff gets the reflection under control.

After dropping the change into the tip jar, I walk over to option number 25 under recommended matches with my latte in hand. My maybe date closes his laptop and drops it in his bag before standing as I approach.

“Hi, you must be Deja. I’m Tyler.” He reaches out a hand to shake, and I have to shift the cup to my off-hand. His hand is warm and firm.

Setting my drink down on the table, which thankfully doesn’t wobble, I move the second chair over a few inches until I can see my reflection in the column decorated with mirrored tiles if I glanced sideways. While this isn’t my go-to coffee shop, the décor did keep it on my possible list. Close enough to public transport, but not my regular place, made it the perfect location for a first date I wasn’t sure would go anywhere. If need be, I could avoid it for months. One can never be too careful.

“Sorry to keep you waiting.”

He sits after I do. “Not at all, you are exactly on time. I was early; needed to get a little work done today.”

“No rest for the wicked.” I laugh trying to sound like I’m breaking the ice, not hysterically needy. I think I’m successful since he didn’t run away screaming. “Or at least system administrators.”

“You should know.” He takes a sip of his coffee. The lid is on it, so I can’t see if he did a fancy like me. “I saw we had matching jobs.”

“Who do you wrangle for?”

His full lips twist. “At the moment, a little start-up called Crossed Purposes. We create apps to coordinate Christian and charity work in metropolitan areas to better reach all those in need without duplication, and less management overhead so more money will go where it is needed. But…” His eyes drift to my reflection, scrunching a little.

Is Vu doing something? I glance over, but everything looks like what people would expect. “But?”

“Oh, a couple bigger companies are in a bidding war. The owners will be selling out sometime next month, and neither one will need me because they got their infrastructures already in place.”

“Oh, that sucks,” I sympathize. “Do you have anything else lined up?”

“Not right now.” Tyler shrugs. “I got some money saved up. So, I thought I would take time off to travel, explore the city, read a book, go shopping, you know, do all the things you can’t do when on call 24/7.”

“Oh, I hear you. That sounds amazing.”

“How about you? Where do you work?”

“At TeleStaff. It’s a call center provider for doctors, lawyers, accountants, other small firm service providers. We are 24/7 so they don’t have to be.” My knee bumps his under the table, and I am not saying it was by accident. A quick side-eye shows a reflection with my head down and a secret, satisfied smile dancing on my lips. Nice to know we are having fun.

“Nice tag line.”

“Isn’t it? The owner used to work in marketing.”

We both stop and fiddle with our drinks, the first questions out of the way. It wasn’t like we didn’t already know the answers from each other profiles. I scroll through his profile in my head to get the next topic.

“Windy today, right?” He wins conversational gambit contest, but weather was really low on the points.

I nod. “Thank goodness for public transport. The wind really whips through the canyons.”

“East to west, but not as bad north to south, at least on this end of the city.”

“So how did you get here?” Okay, travel isn’t much better than weather, but I think it’s a step up.


I laugh in amazement, this time sounding much more natural, mostly because it is. “In that outfit?” It was sharp. A bright red tie tucked into a vest, a blue on blue striped long-sleeve shirt, and black jeans.

“Yeah, my first job was courier.” Tyler smiles at the memory. “I still bike everywhere and buy my clothes accordingly.”

“I bet you want to bike across America someday.”

“Wouldn’t that be amazing? I mean, I could do that now, right?” He gets a far-away look for a moment before shaking his head. “Maybe next week. Thanks for the idea. You are absolutely right; it is on my bucket list. How about you, anything you always wanted to do?”

“Travel. I’ve not been out of the city except for conferences, and one hotel is like another.”

“I haven’t even had that. Start-ups don’t pay enough for conferences.” He takes one last sip of his coffee, and it makes the hollow sound of being empty. “Anywhere in particular, for the travel? International, maybe? You look like the international type.”

“Good grief. Me? Oh, I admit there are some sites I would just love to see. I should start small, maybe the Storm King Art Center in upstate. But, for the bucket list, the Cloud Gate in Chicago and the Phoenix Art Museum with their Dancing Fireflies exhibit.”

“Nice,” his eyes sparkles with the mischief I hoped to see in real life since I decided to swipe right last month and started our email chats, “You could join me on the bike ride and visit all those places.”

I giggle, shaking my head and waggling a finger. “No, no, no. Only exercise I do is the stairs down into the subway. I’d follow you in a car, but no way am I biking.”



“Follow me in a car, see America, maybe parts of Canada.” He leans forward, the muscles in his arms bunching, pulling at the fabric. “You put together the landmark list and we could see it all.”

“Are you kidding me?” I laugh again. “We just met.”

He sighs and scrunches his nose, leaning back. “Yeah, just kidding, but it is a heck of an idea.”

“We could start.”

Tyler raises an eyebrow.

“You know, visiting places, without leaving the city.”

“I’m listening.”

I’m a coward, I know. I always start small with everything. I gather my courage and remind myself, a start is a start. I want to check on my reflection out of habit. She’s always the braver of the two of us. But I need to concentrate on him and his bottomless dark brown eyes. Wow, they are just gorgeous.

“Well, I just finished my coffee, and you’ve been done a while. Maybe we could go to,” I run the list of must-visit places in the city that I’ve never gone to, “the Kalunga Garden.”

“Wow, that wasn’t on my radar at all.” A big grin grabs his face and doesn’t let go. “I was thinking about the Statue of Liberty or The Empire State building. Maybe the Metro since you like art so much.”

“Yeah, but we need a place where you can put your bike.” It is my turn to shrug. “Besides, you like the outdoors, and aside from being windy, today is beautiful.”

“Sounds like a plan.” My date, for real date, first in half a decade, stands up.

I match his movement and check my reflection. She doesn’t give me a thumb’s up, but I feel it in my heart. I give her a nod which she matches and off we go to the front door on a real date.

(words 1,449; first published 9/30/2022)

Reflections Series

  1. A Reflective Woman (10/30/22)
  2. Dual Impressions (11/6/22)

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