The Orange Sticky Note – Part One

Taryn McGraw, Staff Reporter

After school gets out, all anybody wants to do is something that doesn’t even remotely involve that horrible place. Some go on to play sports or participate in their clubs, some just go home to sleep, others go hang out with friends. 

I, on the other hand, do the same thing each and every day: I go to a cafe. A dark, small, cozy cafe filled with the feeling of warmth and the smell of coffee. Whoever decided to hire the workers did an excellent job because I can’t think of anyone nicer than the ones taking my order.

After school, I ride my bike and park it in front of the cafe and place the bike lock on like I always do. I open the door and am consistently greeted by someone.

“Hey, Nicholas!” The girl, Payton, at the front counter calls out to me, She has long, soft brown hair that contrasts her bright green eyes. Whenever I look into them, I feel like I am going to get lost in a forest of green. 

Compared to my black hair and blue eyes, I feel like she is a gorgeous goddess, or at least something very close to one. It always puts a smile on my face when I see her. She is always working the afternoon shift, so there isn’t a weekday that goes by without my seeing her.

I approach the counter and look a bit upwards to make eye contact with her. Yes, I am short and I’ve been teased relentlessly because of it, but Payton said that the best people she knows are a little on the shorter side, so I don’t hate my height entirely. 

“I thought I told you already to just call me Nick.” I sigh and she just laughs, which is music to my ears as I look away with my cheeks reddening. 

“Yeah, I know. I just enjoy your reaction, so I have to tease you because of it. I’m sorry.” Payton laughs out. I can’t help but smile at her reaction and her desire to tease me. 

“Well…” I start, avoiding eye contact and rubbing the back of my neck, a habit I picked up when I’m embarrassed, “my friends call me Nick and I consider you my friend, so…”

My statement is a half-truth. Yes, my friends would call me Nick, but I don’t have any friends, but Payton doesn’t need to know that. She might call me a loser and stop being so friendly with me.

“You don’t have to be so shy about it. I think of you as my friend as well, Nick.” Payton says, winking. If I thought my face was red before, it is at least ten times worse now. I quickly look down towards the counter and wish for my face to cool down, but my mind is running at a million miles per hour. 

“She called me her friend; she’s my first friend.” I whisper to myself with a big grin plastered on my face.

“Anyways, would you like your usual, Nick?” Payton asks, already typing my order into the register, knowing the answer. I give her my card for her to swipe and then make my way to the table in the back. 

The back of the cafe is rarely used as those who come in like to be seated by a window. I just like the darkness and solitude. When I reach the table, I can’t help but chuckle. 

There is a sign on the table reading: Reserved for Nicholas.

I roll my eyes and plop myself in the chair with my back facing the wall and I place my backpack in the seat next to me. Just like any other day, I take out my reading glasses and book and do the same thing I do every time I come here: I bury my head in a book and immerse myself in the mystical world of imagination and creativity.

I feel a small tap on my shoulder a little bit later and I know it is Payton bringing me my drink. Without taking my eyes off of my book, I give her a small nod and reach for the cup on the table. She does this every time ever since I completely forgot about my order and let it get cold. 

It wasn’t even my idea, but she said that it is a waste to let the coffee she puts her sweat and tears into go cold. I always thought she was exaggerating but I didn’t comment on it and I let her do her thing.

Time passes by way too quickly at the cafe and I get startled by my vibrating alarm I set on my watch. It is set everyday at the same time so that I don’t accidentally read until closing, inconveniencing Payton and the others that work here.

I close my book, remove my glasses, then rub my eyes, using that time to remember all that I’ve read and admiring how the author chose their words in order to illustrate the complexity of the character and their surrounding setting. The author may not be well known, but that doesn’t stop me from loving their books. 

On any normal day, I would put my book and glasses away in the backpack, stand up, throw away my empty cup, then head out after saying goodbye to Payton. This time, however, there was something a little different. 

Like normal, I put my book and glasses away, but when I am about to stand up, I notice something bright orange on the table that I know for certain was not there when I sat down earlier. 

I reach for it and pick up the small orange paper, realizing it was a sticky note. The sticky note reads: Hello, how is your book so far? (respond on the back and leave the note on the table)

It took a bit of time for the reality of this situation to sink in. Someone came up to my table and stuck the note on it without me realizing it. I bury my head in my hands and groan, disappointed in myself a little bit. Was I so engrossed in my book that I didn’t notice a living being standing right next to me. 

In realization, I lift my head. That it is a very valid situation for me. I haven’t even noticed Payton bringing me my drink, so another person placing a sticky note without me noticing is actually nothing out of the ordinary. 

With the sticky note in hand, I leave my things and stand up. Things are slow at this time of day so there are only a few people seated at the table, either doing work or just playing on their phones. When I reach the counter, Payton looks up at me from her homework and smiles.

“Well, this is new. You’ve never come up here after ordering your drink. What’s up, Nick?” She asks with her head tilted slightly. 

“Did you notice anyone come over to where I sit today?” I ask vaguely, in case it was Payton that wrote the note. It crossed my mind but I don’t want to make any final decisions. 

“I haven’t, but I wasn’t really looking in your direction. What is this about?” She says, her head never leaving the tilted position. Instead, she looks even more curious. I hold the sticky note out to her and she gives a raised eyebrow, taking it and reading what is on there.

“I found this on my table when I finished reading and it doesn’t have a signature.” I explain.

“Well, I don’t know who could have written it, but there is a good chance that it is from a female. Their handwriting is typically better than boys’. No offense.” Payton states, smirking a bit at the end and handing me back my note.

“None taken. My handwriting is barely legible. What do you think I should do?” I ask.

“I think you should respond to the note. It’s kind of cute and it’s the first time I’ve seen this method of conversation. There’s no harm in trying to talk to another person and I know you don’t do that a lot in school.” Payton gives me the stink eye and I only roll my eyes and shrug.

“Okay fine. I’ll give this a try. Let me know if you see this person, though. I am already very curious and I don’t want to be talking to a stalker that could potentially kill me.”

Payton laughs at my statement. “Would I let some murderer in this cafe? No I wouldn’t, so don’t worry about that idea. As for your mystery pen pal, I’ll keep an eye out, but there is no guarantee.”

“Thanks, Payton.” 

“No problem, Nick. Now, you need to go now right? I’ll see you tomorrow.” She says, ushering me away with a smile. I smile and wave before walking back to the table. 

I pull out my pencil and write: My book is very fun. I highly recommend it. Have you heard of the author before?

I place the note back on the table before grabbing my backpack, throwing away my cup, saying goodbye to Payton, and leaving the cafe with the nagging question in my mind: who did I just write to?

The next day, like normal, I ride my bike to the cafe after class. I walk in and find Payton at the counter once again. She looks up at me and smiles brightly.

We say our greetings like usual and I pay for my drink before making my way to my table. I look at the sign once again and laugh loudly at the change on it: Reserved for Nicholas Nick.

When I sit down, however, I freeze. In front of me is another bright orange sticky note posted on the back of the sign with the same curly-letters handwriting as yesterday.