"You're late. I am leaving if you don't show up within 5 minutes." A womanly irritated voice echoed through a Blackberry.

"I will be there in one. I can already see the cafe." Replied the voice of Aaron Adams. But Aaron didn't see the cafe. In fact, he didn't even know where it stood. They were supposed to meet at 1 : 00 ; and although his cellular claimed the time 1 : 15, he knew very well that he was only five minutes late. He had always set his time 10 minutes ahead of reality so that he was never late, even if he was, according to his digital friend.
The weather was much warmer than he had anticipated that morning and his forehead had started to bear some sweat. It was winter but the skies were cloudless and the sun was slowly roasting Earth. He wore a black leather jacket covering a red hoodie, blue jeans that kept on slipping down despite the leathery efforts of his brown belt, white running shoes, and a sweet perfume. Aaron was determined to look good on that particular day and thought he did a good job. The jacket made him look bigger than he actually was and he liked that. He wasn't small to begin with though; rather quite well built, thanks to weight lifting and swimming.

"Bring me a lighter on your way here. I forgot mine at home." Said the voice; relaxed but demanding.

"Okay. Give me two more minutes then. Bye for now." He sounded a little bit more annoyed than he had intended to. He didn't like her smoking and she promised that she would quit. Apparently the habit was only clenching its teeth into her lungs by every passing day. He would have argued, but he was in no position to do that. "May be some other day." He thought.

He felt his way to a market and found the lighters waiting. Too many different drawings and designs. Pink with red roses, one with some giant that he couldn't recognize,- probably a wrestler-, a black with a many little white skulls, and more that stood in a line, erect like soldiers waiting to be chosen for a mission, and deadly soldiers they were. He picked the one with the skulls, picked himself m&ms, asked about the cafe, got directions and moved in a haste.

The nearer he drew to the cafe, the smaller his steps became. He had been rehearsing the right words to utter, memorizing what and what not to talk about, and training his longing eyes to remain glossy cold on the sight of their long missed apple. He was drowning in those thoughts when a little girl discovered and saved him. In return, the tiny beggar asked for money. Nothing was free those days. He had no change but she didn't buy it and followed him to the cafe.
He stood with his back to the transparent plastic curtains that closed the cafe entrance trying to dismiss his persistent companion. "I see you brought your girlfriend with you." Said the voice behind him.

He turned quickly and saw her. Lily Lockhart sitting at a table in the corner, legs crossed, arms folded, drawing a smile on her face that resembled an inverted rainbow. "Yeah, cute, eh?" He managed to say with an awkward smile and saw her smile widening. The persistent disappeared, probably to ruin someone else's reunion. That's what it was, a reunion. He walked to the table steadily trying to restrain his eyes and rein them towards the grey porcelain tiles that covered the cafe's floor. That place was surrounded by curtains and was in front of the main cafe. He liked it better outside. He could easily notice that the place was not luxurious; the tiles were not clean and no one was there but for Lily Lockhart. Lily, on the other hand, observed him as he walked towards her, trying to find the differences between that guy and the guy she had known for years before. He reached the table faster than he wanted to, set his eyes free and extended his right arm which was rewarded by a firm, and rather soft, hand shake from the other side. He was standing two feet from her face and could see every single detail that had been carved in his mind for years but was then again brushed, unearthed and filled with molten gold. Her broad forehead that gave her the very special cat-look, her eyes that no glasses could ever hide their beauty, her full cheeks along with the freckles on them that he used to love so much, her distinctively small nose, her strong, yet again soft, chin, above which the curves of her lips lie so serene, and her long dark hair that lead Aaron's eyes, as it extended towards the relatively tight waist, and left him from there on to continue his exploration once again on his own. She wore blue tight jeans, a loose faded blue shirt, and no makeup whatsoever. She has never needed any. Her beauty was natural and manifestly shining. "Just like always. Elegant and beautiful, like a cat." He thought to himself, and wished his countenance wouldn't be exposing much of his thoughts.

Lily sat down as Aaron reached for a near metallic silver chair. He pulled it and sat down in front of her in silence. She had ordered and finished her coffee already, the waiter came and Aaron had to order. The waiter was wearing sandals, worn out jeans and a shirt that carried a name tag saying "Will Bill". "Do you want anything?" Aaron asked her but she slowly shook her head and pointed to her consumed cup with a slight nod. "Mango juice for me then." He ordered, and watched Will scribble it down in a small note. He wished that Will would just be anything like his job and wait a little longer. Just enough for him to remember the conversation scheme that he had prepared. But before he could finish his silent wish, unwilling Will had already disappeared inside the main cafe.

"How long has it been, since last time we have met?" She said as she observed him closely as if searching for the date of the latest update on his forehead.

"Four years. I guess. Not sure." He uttered, trying to make his words sound indifferent and succeeding. Anyway, he really wasn't sure. "Ouch! Too long. Has it really been four years already? Oh, God!"

"Yeah. I find it hard to believe, too." Checking the ceiling, again trying to avoid eye contact.

"So tell me about that girl you like and the other one you're with and sick of." She said with an excited grin.

He had told her earlier that week that there was that girl at his university who really interested him, and he had also told her that he was in a relationship that bore no name tag but which he was sick of and wanted out. But he included neither of those in the "What to talk about" scheme and wasn't prepared to discuss neither with his ex girlfriend, face to face, anytime soon. Actually those two subjects, specially, were lying in the very opposite list; the "What not to talk about" list. Will reappeared at the door through which he had vanished, this time he carried a long glass of mango that he placed in front of Aaron and asked if they needed anything else. Aaron and Lily thanked him; Lily, for his service, and Aaron also for his service of providing him with a few seconds to recompose himself and think of an answer. "Ahem... Yeah... well... I don't know..." Muttered Aaron, more to himself than to Lily. Apparently the time Will provided was not sufficient, it was worth the try though. Thank you, Will. "Oh, okay. Let's take it easy and slow." said Lily with a smile. Aaron was embarrassed by his stammering and took a quick sip from his fresh untouched juice.

"So, how is university? Keeping you pretty busy, eh?" Lily was still searching for differences. "His voice changed a bit." She thought.

"Yeah. Too many projects to work on, so little time."

"You can do it though. I believe in you."

Aaron smiled and almost chuckled. It was his turn to ask now. "What about you? You're going to pass this year?"

"No. I can do that, but then my grades would be really low."

"Next year then."

"Yeah. Damn physics." She reached for her bag and got out a pack of Marlboros.
"Got me the lighter?"

"Yeah. Almost forgot about it." Aaron fingered his pocket for the lighter, pulled it out and placed it standing tall on the metallic table. The lighter almost spoke

"In your service, madam." Except it didn't.

"Oh! How cute. The skulls are lovely." Lily giggled and picked it up with her right hand just as her left pushed a cigarette between her dark rosy lips. She lit it, took a deep toxic breath, and exhaled a big cloud. She could clearly see the irritation on Aaron's face. " I'll quit soon."

"When?" Aaron managed to draw a smile to not seem demanding.

"I don't know. I am very stressed these days and they just put me back in the mood."

"How is that?"

"I don't know, it just feels great. A nonsmoker like you will never understand. Why don't you try one and see how it feels?" Lily tightened her eyes and gave an evil smile. They both laughed.

"No, thank you. You don't know how many people gave me that offer and got refused. You know I don't like smokes, and I certainly don't want you to be the one who gives me the first cigarette."

"Come on. I am not 'anyone'. It's me, Lily. Come on, please. Do it for me, just this time." She picked another cigarette to her lips and wanted to lit it for him.

"No, I really don't want to. But I can smoke it unlit if you insist." He reached for her lips and pulled the safe cigarette, inverted it and put it between his smiling curves.

"Don't be silly. I'll need that later so you're not allowed to destroy it for fun. Pussy." He smiled and handed it to her.

"Me and Jack are going on that spree, you know. We made three nonsmokers have their very first cigarettes. And that was only yesterday."

Jack was her current boyfriend. She met him on some social network site and talked ( or more precisely chatted ) for months and then BOO! They were in love. Aaron had been on that since its very first day. He also knew very well how it was going to end. After all she had been in love with him for almost a year. He could easily tell. He never really approved of that kind of relationships; but what was his word worth? Nothing. And he could easily tell that, too. He really hated the guy. As much as it would and did seem to be out of jealousy, it wasn't. At all. He was actually happy about the boyfriend that proceeded Jack. The thing is, Jack was not good. And he had such a strong influence on Lily Lockhart who usually seemed rock solid. She had never fallen under someone else's influence until that guy had shown up. Apparently, even the hardest rocks can be reshaped, and eventually eradicated by the overwhelming rivers of love.

"That's... nice. I guess." Muttered Aaron.

"Hmm. So, I guess the ice is broken now. Tell me about those girls. NOW!" She said, with her voice rising with each word of the second sentence. And then followed her words with a grin.

He laughed but felt it was okay. It was true the ice that had been piling over the last four years had been finally broken.

"Okay. There is that girl that I really like. She reads, writes, has a good taste in music, and she is a cat. I don't know anything more than that about her; and I don't like her. I don't know enough to like her. I just said that I find her interesting and that I would love to speak with her to explore her mind."

"Hmm. She looks like me, doesn't she?"

"Yeah. More or less. Cats, you know. They can never really look very different."

"Aha, she's pretty then." She giggled and he nodded his head slightly to the left in agreement.
"Go talk to her. Tell her you think she's interesting and that you would like to get to know her better."

"I think you have been out of the country for quite a while. Things like that doesn't happen here that simple."

"It is that simple. It's not about the country or the culture. If you like someone, you tell them."

"I really appreciate your advice, Lily. But I prefer my ways of doing such stuff." Aaron shrugged.

"You mean writing poetry full of riddles that she has to solve? You did that, didn't you?"

"Well, yes. It is much more fun this way. You want to read one of them?"

"Sure, yeah."

Aaron pulled his digital friend out of his tight pocket with some difficulty, stared at the bright screen for a minute as his finger tips danced across the keyboard and then gave it to Lily who leaned forward with elbows on the table and started to read out loud.

"Stranger. Nice title, is that the first clue?" She didn't wait for an answer and continued to read.

" Daring, I tried to venture
Into the depths of your mind;
Navigating by your songs and books
And haunted by your beauty.

Now, I am stuck in your mind,
Oh, stranger, guide me through;
You - whom I quite hold dear,
Rein me towards your heart."

"Good. Certainly better written than what you used to write me."

"Yeah. I certainly hope she's smarter than you were. You never solved the riddles." Aaron said while shaking his head and then smiled.

"Well, it's because your clues were never clear. Not clear enough, at least. Like here, for example. You don't know her personally so I can guess you can't provide any clues that will make sense only to her. How are you going to pull that? Because I don't see any clues in that piece whatsoever."

"There's a huge clue. And it would make sense to anyone who reads it, anyone who looks close enough, that is."

"Hmm. And what if she never solves it?"

"She loses. As I said, I don't like her. I just find her interesting. I am not romantic enough to write her poetry just to tell her how I feel. I do that because I like games, mind games. If she solves it, she can join me in my game, or even make her own and invite me to it. Eventually, I'll know all that I need to know about her and probably like her."

"Mind games? Rather sick games. Well, it's your life. Waste it as you like."
"Think about my way though. Try the direct way for change."

"Well, I'll think about. I'll keep you updated." Aaron said, trying to dismiss the subject.

"You do that. What about the other one. The overly attached, right?"

"Yeah. Damn! I hate- " Lily interrupted him with her hand and pulled her mobile from her pocket to answer.

"Hey, Jack... Yeah, I am still at the cafe... "

Aaron left her voice playing at the background of his mind and instead thought about something else. What was he doing there? What made him cancel all his plans for the day when Lily asked if he was free? Was he still in love with her? No, he was sure that it was over for him, and more than sure that she totally forgot about him. She had a goddamn boyfriend for heaven's sake; the second after leaving him. They didn't talk enough to be friends. But they knew hell a lot about each other. What does that make them? Ex-s. And that's exactly what they were. These thoughts crowded Aaron's mind as his gaze remained fixed on the high level of juice in the tall glass in front of him. He looked so serene from the outside; but on the inside he was fighting thoughts that brought confusion, anxiety and frustration to his weary mind.

"Aaron? Are you trying to pull the glass to your lips through mind power alone? Because that's not working. Even for a great mind like yours, some things are impossible." Lily's tab popped in his mind to the top, overthrowing his thoughts to the background.

"I guess you're right about that." He said as he pulled his glass and took a sip. He followed it by two others when he realized the juice was starting to lose its cool. Or was he the one losing cool?

"So, what were we talking about?" Lily asked as she placed her mobile on the metallic table. She drew a cigarette and forced it to kiss the already lit but diminished one. She then crushed out the latter and smoked the former. Four cigarettes sat in front of him in the litter, watching and probably mocking him. A smile broke through his lips at the thought but went unnoticed by Lily. She was again reaching for her phone which was buzzing and vibrating like a crying baby. The baby stopped once Lily's fingers touched his frame and fell into a tight sleep that, to Aaron's surprise, remained undisturbed by Lily's voice as she spoke.

"Good morning, Mike... hmm?"

Mike was Lily's elder brother. Again Aaron ventured into his marvelous mind in search for answers to the previous questions and revolts that had aroused. Many regions in Aaron's mind had remained unexplored. Some regions were better treaded cautiously, or not at all. And Aaron had preferred the second option. But that day, he decided to tread, not cautiously but aggressively and insanely into some of those regions. He decided to violate his own mind. The mind which he had been bragging about for years, like a prisoner bragging about the grisliness and darkness of his cell. But he was once again interrupted by Lily.

"Oh God! Aaron, you are really trying to do it."

"No! This time I was trying to heat it with my super eye sight." He took a sip, closed his eyes as he licked his lips. "I failed."

"Keep on trying." Lily giggled.
"Anyway, I really have to go. Mike says mom is on Skype and wants to see me."

"Oh, right now?" Aaron didn't want her to leave. He still had too many things to say and more things not to. He wanted his eyes to get drenched in her features. He wished she would offer him a cigarette, that time he would certainly accept it. But she was already standing. "Yeah. I am kind of late already. Let's go."

Lily took a last breath from her cigarette and then crashed it out next to the other four. Aaron stood up. His glass had some juice left so he pulled it up and devoured the content. He then followed Lily through the glass doors to the cafe.

His eyes unintentionally caressed her back, but he quickly took them off of her straight firm body. She was as attractive as ever. He felt a little portion of envy towards Jack seeping into his heart but the nervous heart pulses were enough to block and destroy the feeling before it could venture any further.
Inside the main cafe Aaron saw Will sitting next to some guy who was apparently the casher. Lily drew cash from her bag in order to pay. "No, wait." Aaron said as he held her hand to stop her. "It was my treat." He said with a smile as he let go her hand. In return Lily Lockhart gave him a look that could have petrified him if remained fixed for more than a second. But was satisfied by the mere destruction of his smile so she glanced back at the cashier and handed him the money. Aaron looked around the place awkwardly after his silent defeat. The place was not any better than the outside. They walked outside the glass doors, through the transparent curtains and into the street. They walked for about five minutes in silence. Aaron didn't know what to say and Lily didn't care to say anything.

"So that girl I want to break up with, she is really annoying. We don't share anything in common, you know. She's one of those girls who read nothing but quotes; love, depression and wisdom quotes. Hates books, her taste in music is not half good, and totally dependent on others. She can't survive one day on her own. She is really weak, it sickens me. Her highest goal is to lose a couple of pounds, get these pants, get those earrings, and most importantly, get a boyfriend whom on she can depend."

"Yeah, I know that type. You have all the right to hate her. But hey! How did you get yourself into something like that. As much as I remember, you were pretty cautious. And I don't think this one can actually find any clues in poetry. I don't even think she can interpret straight forward poetry." Lily said as she hastened across the street, followed by Aaron who was trying to keep up with her pace. He never remembered her that fit.

"You got that right. She can't. I show her a piece that I had just finished and she goes like 'Nice one, baby.'" Aaron mimicked her voice and they both laughed.
"I don't know how I got myself stuck there. The only answer I have for this is that I never did. She's hot, her voice is really soft, and you know that kind of girls. They hunt guys. I surrendered physically, but my mind was what saved me. I don't know how to tell her though. She's kind of attached to me."

"Just tell her straight forward and with no riddles. Tell her that you want to walk away and that you're not comfortable. It's better for her that way than to be with her despite yourself. Trust me. Tell her and stop talking to her for a while." Lily stopped walking and looked at the street looking for an empty cab.

"Hmm. Yeah, I'll do that." Aaron didn't want to sound upset about her leaving, but did.

A cab slowly approached them and Lily leaned down to the window and said where she wanted to go. Aaron saw the cab driver nodding and then Lily turned to him.

"Well, I am going now. Good bye." She said and extended her hand.

"Good bye, Lily. See you soon." Aaron said as he took her hand for a quick shake.

Lily got into the back of the cab and closed the door. Aaron stood for a minute watching the back of her head as it went further and further away from his very limited reach.

Aaron didn't know what he was supposed to do now. He came that day, thinking they might spend more hours together, may be have dinner, too. But she was gone and he was alone. It was still too early. His digital friend said that he had spent only one hour with Lily and it made him sad. Walking back, Aaron saw the market from which he had bought the lighter. He went in, grabbed a lighter, similar to the one he brought to Lily, he then asked for a pack of Marlboros. The guy brought him a white and blue pack but Aaron said he wanted the red one. He didn't really know the difference but the one he had seen with Lily was red. He took the red pack, the lighter and headed once again to the same cafe.

No one was there still and their table was not yet cleaned. "Perfect." Aaron whispered to himself. He could see Will though the glass doors coming towards him to take his order. He ordered two glasses of mango juice, walked to his chair and sat down waiting for Will to serve.
It wasn't so long before Will placed two glasses on the table and removed the consumed glass. Aaron then drew two cigarettes from his sealed pack. placed them both between his lips and lit them. He coughed hard as his lungs revolted against the toxics he was filling them with but the cigarettes were lit. He placed one on the other side of the table facing him and held the other between his fingers. Five crushed cigarettes stared at him through their filters. They were not mocking him anymore, rather pitying him. "I have brought you some friends." He smiled at them.

Aaron took another toxic breath and again coughed hard. His lungs were persistent but his mind was determined. He exhaled a cloud in which he could easily see Lily's face and smiled at her dispersing countenance. Her cigarette was burning slowly and her juice remained untouched. He took a sip from his and another inhalation through the yellow filter that could never filter lung cancer. He crushed out his first cigarette and it lied opposite to the other five in the litter. He then lit his second. His coughing ceased and the face was more stable in the clouds then.

Lily's face was there, smiling at him, with every exhalation. He would have to go get a couple more Marlboro packs soon. "Just today." He told himself when he thought about the fact that he was smoking heavily. Through all the clouds of smoke that surrounded him, he could clearly see the answer to his mind's questions, to what he had wanted, to why he had been there that morning. It was because he had wanted to see Lily. He had wanted to spend some time with her. His eyes had always found comfort in her countenance and his soul, peace in her presence. He had really missed her. One hour hadn't been sufficient to provide neither his eyes, soul, nor heart with what they needed. Another sip, another cigarette crushed out and another lit. He was then again relaxed by her presence and started to talk about everything that lied in his "What to talk about" list and decided that he would talk about what lied in the other list, too. They had enough time to talk about everything before dinner. They were both free. Cigarettes filed through the pack to his mouth and into the ash tray. Lily sat there motionless, occasionally quivering with air particles. She sat smiling at Aaron through the clouds as he talked and talked and never stopped talking. A family of cigarettes sat amid the thick toxic fog, watching as Lily Lockhart slowly consumed Aaron Adams. A new member joined the family and they all waited for the next one, impatiently.