Gradually opening his eyes, Teddy wondered where he was.
“Teddy, you’re finally awake?”
Not recognizing the person’s voice, Teddy’s gaze met the wearied eyes of the young man who was holding his hand. He heard him telling Aaron to go get the doctor and saw someone hurrying out of the room.
“You’re going to be alright, Teddy.”
“Where am I?” Teddy muttered.
“You’re in the hospital.”
“Hospital..?” Teddy tried to recall. “Why…am I here?”
“You were in a terrible car accident three days ago.”
Teddy furrowed his brows and rubbed at his bandaged forehead. “Who are you?”
Eyes widening, he replied. “I’m Yunlin, your brother. Don’t you remember me?”
“Yes, I’m a year older than you.”
“My name is…Teddy?” He figured that out from hearing his name being called.
“Yes, that’s your English name. Your Chinese name is Youcheng. Jen Youcheng.”
“The doctor is here,” Aaron interrupted when he returned with a doctor and a nurse.
Teddy blinked confusedly at them as he was being examined. It was later confirmed that the injury to his head had wiped out most of his memories. It was uncertain if he would recover from his amnesia, since matters considering the brain were unpredictable.
YunLin contemplated whether or not to give Teddy back his ring. A part of him wanted to keep it away from his brother in order to protect him from the painful recollections that might be triggered by it. Yet, he couldn’t bring himself to erase all memories of Bernard from Teddy. He was the love of Teddy’s life; therefore YunLin decided that Teddy should have the ring.
The sun rose and set, day in and day out as usual. Time proceeded on with every tick of the clock, but Teddy felt empty whenever he looked at the ring on his fourth finger. His life appeared to be at a standstill and tears would cloud his eyes for unknown reasons. A frail mind conjuring up endless questions of who the name inscribed on it belonged to. There were no logical answers or fixes for this missing piece in his heart. ‘Who is Bernard? Who is he to me? Why does my heart ache whenever I think of him? Why?’ He tried asking YunLin and Aaron about Bernard, but neither one provided him with the answers he yearned for. All he was told was that Bernard was someone who saved him and deserved to be remembered as a special person.
A year had passed. Teddy’s tears had dried, for there weren’t any left for him to shed. His heart had hardened from hurting and his happiness faded like the memories he couldn’t retrieve. The bright, cheerful smile Teddy always had was no longer. He wanted a new start; because there was nothing he could do about the things he had lost. Moving forward was his only way to live on.
YunLin bought a place for them to move into, where they opened a coffee shop downstairs while they lived upstairs. A staircase in the kitchen led to a 2-bedroom, one bathroom living quarter with an opened kitchen and a living room.
A tall stranger popped into the shop early one morning the instant Teddy unlocked the door. “Good morning,” he greeted with an overflow of enthusiasm. Carrying a large hiking backpack on his shoulders, the young man marched inside with a blinding smile plastered on his face.
“Good morning.” Teddy felt his heart racing all of a sudden, and he had to press a palm over his chest to calm the beating. Quickly walking behind the counter to stare at the cash register, he asked politely. “What would you like?”
Hearing his reply, Teddy gasped inwardly and looked up at the guy.
“I’m just kidding.” He chuckled at Teddy’s shocked expression. “I’ll have a hot caramel macchiato and a slice of banana bread please.”
Nodding, Teddy glanced back at the register and processed the order. About to tell the man how much it cost, he was being given the exact change before he even spoke.
‘I don’t recall him checking out the menu. How did he…?’ Teddy was extremely surprised yet accepted the payment anyway.
“I’m Bernard,” he introduced himself, out of the blue. “What’s your name, Teddy?”
“I’m,” Teddy paused and blinked, “how did you know my name?”
“Since your shop is called ‘Teddy’s Coffee Spot’, I assumed that you would be said person.” Bernard threw Teddy a wink.
“I see.” Grabbing hold of a tong, Teddy asked, “For here or to go?”
“I would be enjoying them here at your presence,” Bernard informed.
Teddy put the pastry on a plate and handed it to Bernard. “I’ll bring your beverage to you. Feel free to take a seat.”
“Sure thing.” Peeling off a corner of the bread, Bernard shoved it into his mouth and moaned in pleasure. With the plate in hand, he did as Teddy suggested and headed to a table facing the counter. Placing his breakfast on the surface, he plopped down on a chair after removing and settling his backpack on the floor. A smile lifted his lips as he watched Teddy prepare his coffee. ‘Thank goodness it’s still early. There are no other customers. I could have him to myself.’ He woke from his trance when Teddy brought over his drink.
“Thank you.” Bernard raised the cup to his nose and sniffed in the sweet aroma. “It smells good.” Cautiously sipping the hot liquid, a foam mustache accumulated above his upper lip. “Oh, gosh! This…is heaven. My baby sure makes the best coffee. I’ve been craving it for so long.”
‘He called me, his baby.’ Teddy gazed at the man in awe without saying a word, as he recalled the other addressing himself as Bernard. ‘His name is the same as the one on my ring.’
“Pardon me for giving you a nickname. I tend to do that when I get excited.”
“It’s okay. If you need anything else, I’ll…”
“In fact,” Bernard cut in, “I do need something else.”
“Could you hire me?”
“We’re currently not hiring.”
“You don’t have to pay me. I just need a place to crash and preferably three meals to fill my stomach.”
“I could sleep on the couch.” Seeing Teddy hesitating, Bernard quickly negotiated. “I don’t mind sleeping on the floor. I just need a roof over my head. I’m an excellent barista and I promise to work hard. I assure you that I’m not a bad person. I don’t want to sleep on the streets. Please?”
“I live here with my brother. You could share my room, if you don’t mind.”
“I don’t mind.” Bernard’s features lit up when he realized something. “Wait. Does that mean I could have the job?”
With a nod of the head, Teddy stated, “Tell me when you’ve finished your bread and coffee. I’ll show you around.”
Teddy froze for a moment to intake a breath. ‘I must be crazy for trusting a stranger, but there’s something about him that makes me trust him.’
Seeing Teddy’s reaction, Bernard reworded. “I mean, boss.”
“You could call me, Teddy.”
Bernard’s smile somehow woke something forgotten in his heart. ‘What is this feeling?’ Teddy promptly went to serve a new customer who entered the shop. Noticing that Bernard’s eyes trailed him wherever he went, Teddy began acting a bit awkward; not that, he wasn’t already.
Lugging his belongings on his back, Bernard followed Teddy into the kitchen. He took the soiled dishes to drop off at the sink and hurried up the stairs afterwards. The place was how he imagined it would be, clean and simple, with a few photographs of Teddy and YunLin on the wall.
‘You really don’t remember me?’ Bernard was deep in his thoughts.
Teddy noticed the sadness in the other’s eyes and wondered. ‘Why do I feel sad, when I see him so sad?’