Sunrise on Hawthorne Pier

Sunrise on Hawthorne Pier

@_laviede_ via Instagram

Caterina Koch, Staff Writer

We were just making ends meet, my mother and I. We lived in a small apartment in the old section of Hawthorne called “Mills Place Apartment Complex”. To just keep our place, my mother worked two jobs, and I worked at the local coffee shop, “Maxim Coffee and Cafe.” They paid well, and I got some tips too, but most of the money I made went to the weekly grocery fund.

Every day, I woke up early to go and open the shop: usually at 5:30 to open by 6:00. This morning, I put on my work attire which consisted of a white shirt with the company logo, a pair of black leggings, sneakers, and my ugly brown apron and matching hat. I walked down the street. Trees were in bloom early this summer, and the humid air made my hair frizzy. It was still pretty dark out, and the streets were empty, save for a few other shops just getting ready to open as well. The sidewalks were a bumpy cobblestone that led up to the end of the pier. At both sunrise and sunset, it was equally beautiful. The ocean lapped against the sand like a kitten drinking from a bowl of milk. The sun began to climb up to the horizon, painting the ocean shades of peach and pink.

I took my keys from my pocket. They jangled as I unlocked the back door. I went to the front, carefully unlocked the door, and flicked the lights on. I began brewing today’s coffee’s and wrote on the menu the famous “Coffee of the Day” –  today it was peach cobbler flavored.

“Yuck,” I thought to myself. “Who would want to drink a coffee that tastes like peach cobbler?”

All of a sudden, there was a knock at the door.

“Who could that be?” I thought to myself.

I went and opened the door. A young man stood there, tall and well built with the most striking eyes I’d ever seen; they were a shade of ice blue. When I saw them, all the humidity left the air and I suddenly felt cold. I was then ashamed of my boring brown eyes, the color of mud.

“Hi, can I help you?” I asked the intruding young man.

“I saw you inside and was just wondering if I could get a coffee? I know your not open yet, but I’ll pay for it and leave you a good tip,” he said. “I promise.”

“That’s fine, I was just about to open the doors anyways. Come on in.”

In reality, it was fifteen minutes until I was supposed to open, but nobody would ever know.

“What can I get for you-?”

“Please, my name is Myles”

“Mara, nice to meet you” I said trying to hide my smile.

“Can I get a medium iced coffee, black please?” he asked.

I poured his coffee into a medium container.

“Would you like to sit and have a coffee with me? I wouldn’t like to sit alone.”

For the fifteen minutes I had before officially opening, I sat with Myles as he sipped his iced coffee, and I sipped an iced mocha. Out the window we could both see the sunrise on Hawthorne Pier.

“Have you always lived here, Mara?” he asked between sips of coffee.

“Yes, it’s always been just me and my Mum. Have you?”

“Yes. I live by Cricket Beach down a few blocks, my family owns a house there. Hawthorne Beach has better waves though” he said as he looked out at the pier.

The beach was another block down. It was very popular with the surfing crowd.

“So, do you surf, Myles?”

“Yes, I started surfing when I was seven. My dad would teach me.”

As our conversation came to a close, I said I could cover our coffees; I hadn’t had a real enjoyable conversation for a long time. The second I turned around to go get a rag and clean our table, he was gone. The only thing in his place was a twenty dollar bill to cover our coffees. All day at work, my mind was preoccupied by the mysterious Myles. 

I wondered if he would return again.

The next morning, I did the same routine. I put on my work attire – even the ugly apron and hat. I left the house with my keys and walked down the pier, the cobblestone streets, the green trees. I went to the back door and unlocked it, flipped the light switch, and unlocked the front door, secretly hoping Myles would show up again.

When I heard the knock at the door, my heart flew out of my chest.

I quickly came from behind the counter and opened the door. It was Myles once again. We did this same routine for days, weeks even. His order was always the same: iced black medium coffee. Some days he couldn’t talk, but most days he would stay.

“How come it’s just you and your Mum?” He asked

“My dad – he died when I was a baby, and my mother never remarried,” I said.

It didn’t really bother me talking about my situation, but others always pitied me.

“Mara, I’m really sorry for asking, I didn’t mean-” he scrambled to find the right words.

What do you say to someone who has no dad?

“Myles, it’s fine. Don’t worry about it,” I said. “I don’t mind talking about it. I have no memories of my dad; I was just a baby, really. Don’t be sorry.”

“Mara, would you meet me tonight at The Starfish?” he asked.

The Starfish was the local ice cream spot on the pier.

“Sure, I’d love to.”

Later that night, I asked one of my co-workers to cover my shift so I could go home and get ready. I put on a light pink dress with daisies on the skirt, a jean jacket, and a pair of my cousins hand-me-down white converse sneakers. I put on a purse, and although there was little money in it, it went well with my outfit. My brown wavy hair was doing horribly in the humid weather, so I tried to tame it with some hair oil. I applied what makeup I had – some drugstore mascara and clear lip gloss.

I started walking to the pier, the same walk I take every morning to work. I was feeling jittery. My nerves were jumping inside me. I got there and sat at a picnic table and waited, and waited, and waited. It had been at least a half hour with no sign of Myles.

“Maybe he was a player after all, just using me to get free coffees,” I thought to myself.

All of my doubts were proved wrong as Myles walked around the corner. A big smile spread across his face as he saw me.

“Mara, I’m sorry I’m late. How long have you been waiting?” he asked.

Overcome with a feeling of relief that he showed up, I lied.

“Not long at all,” I said with a smile.

“Oh good. So, what can I get for you?” he asked. 

“I’ll have a Cookies and Cream” I said, quickly adding, “I’ve got it though. I can pay.”

“Are you crazy? I’m paying,” he insisted as he went up and ordered. 

We both ate our ice cream, just talking as the sun set over Hawthorne Pier.

The next morning, I was the most excited I’d ever been to go to work, mainly because I got to see Myles.

The same routine happened as every morning: I put on the work clothes, walked down to the shop, opened the door, flicked on the lights, let in Myles, and made his coffee.

This morning was different, though. There was an odd, tense feeling in the air between us.

“I just was accepted into John Hopkins, Mara,” he said with a slight glum look on his face.

“What! Congrats! I’m so happy for you! Why do you seem unhappy?”

“I have to leave to go home tomorrow, Mara, so I can gather my things,” he said, not making eye contact with me. “This means it’s our last time seeing each other.”

“There’s always April break and next summer, though, right?” I said, trying to be as optimistic as I could.

“My parents bought us an apartment in Upstate New York, and they decided to sell the beach house since they have no more kids to enjoy it with.”

An awkward silence filled the air.

There were no words to say. There was nothing left to say. It was over.

As we reached the bottom of our coffee, it was time to say goodbye. He left some money on the table and reached out for a hug. Our last words were hard. It was hard to get rid of this part of my life I so looked forward to. He walked out the front entrance, the bells jingling.

That was the last sunrise we watched at Hawthorne Pier.