The reading started late because Lisa was nervous. She was far too anxious to get up on stage without some encouragement from Jamila. She’d done these reading many times before and was starting to get used to the sinking feeling she got in the pit of her stomach before she stepped in front of the mic. She would breathe deeply and remind herself that she felt this way because what she was about to do was important. With time, that sinking feeling would go away.
The Starlight Cafe was so full that Lisa for sure they were violating the fire code. She was getting ready to read a new poem made her feel as vulnerable as the pink flesh beneath a scab. She was starting to reconsider reading it at all when Jamila came into the back room.
“Everybody is waiting for you to get started,” Jamila said.
Lisa looked down at the crumpled piece of notebook paper in her hand. She’d crossed off and rewritten so many parts of the poem now that it was barely legible. “Tell me that it is going to be all right,” Lisa said.
“You’re going to knock them dead like you always do.” Jamila squeezed her arm. “You need to get out there though. You’re late, and you know how I feel about tardiness.”
“I’ll be out there soon. Just give me a minute.”
“Okay, but it needs to be a quick minute.” Jamila went through the door to join the waiting crowd.
Lisa closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths. She’d made mistakes in her life and this was her day to start over. She’d already shown herself that she was stronger than she ever thought. She left Richard, bought a coffee shop, and started reading her poetry in front of people. It wasn’t that long ago that she would’ve thought none of those things would’ve been possible. She had changed so much. Now she was exactly where she needed to be. Too bad she wasn’t with who she needed to be with.
When she stepped in front of the mic, the audience applauded. She never imagined people would one day clap for her and tell her that something she wrote moved them.
Lisa didn’t remember what she said on stage. She didn’t know how well her reading went. She only remembered the feeling of exhilaration she had when she finished.
She let the reading go long because they had started late and there were so many talented poets there to share their work. Lisa wished she was as good as some of them. They gave her something to aspire to.
By the time the reading was over she was exhausted, but she always made time to talk to people. She’d gotten to know so many of the local writers and loved seeing them. She was surrounded by a group of people talking about how much the reading had grown in only a few months when she noticed him weaving his way through the crowd. At first, she thought she was seeing things. There was no way Damon would come to the cafe. She hadn’t seen him since she bought the place. She assumed he was avoiding it because of her. She closed her eyes and opened them again and he was still walking toward her in dark jeans and a black T-shirt. She was so happy to see him that she wanted to rush through the crowd and throw her arms around him.
“Pardon me,” she said to the people she was talking with. “I just spotted an old friend.”
There seemed to be so many bodies between them. Lisa couldn’t get to him fast enough. Her breath quickened. Her heart bounced with joy. She wondered how long he’d been there. She wondered if he’d heard her poem. She wondered if he knew how she felt. When she reached him, she was almost as nervous as she was before she read her poem in front of the room.
“I always knew you were an amazing writer,” he said.
“You heard my poem?” She blushed.
He nodded and it was as if all of the people around them disappeared. The conversations around them faded into the background.
“Can we start over?” she asked. Her heart in her throat. She hoped he wouldn’t reject her but would understand if he did.
“I’d rather pick up where we left off.” He stepped closer to her.
“That could work too,” she said.
When their lips met Lisa’s heart started to glow with blue heat. The Startlight Cafe, her writing, and now Damon, all along she believed in miracles. Even when outwardly she didn’t want to let on, afraid that they that very act of hoping would dash her dreams to pieces, she kept her wishes hidden inside. Now that they were coming true she was ready because she had finally become the woman she’d always wanted to be.