09/25/2012 03:36 pm ET

TEEN FICTION: Only Eleven Minutes

This is a regular column featuring original poetry and fiction by and for teens, provided by Figment.com, an online community writing site for young people.

By Kenakari

Within five minutes, Mao could confirm that waiting was embarrassing. For the first two minutes or so she had patiently bounced around the café, pretending to look at the pastries and consider different coffees to buy. She’d even strolled outside into the frigid weather; snow was common in Boston during February. There was about three feet of snow on the ground, and as Mao stepped out, her thick scarf caught the wind and flapped around her, lilac cloth dancing in the breeze. She shoved her hands deep in her pockets and tucked her chin under the lip of her jacket, stoically withstanding the cold. However, after several couples had walked by and given her either pitying or “you’re crazy” looks, Mao returned to the inside of the café. Waiting on Broadway wasn’t an option, so she warmed up and let the snow melt off her puffy white coat.

She checked her phone at the seven-minute mark, agonizing over the looks people were giving her. The customers shoved her politely out of the way of the growing line, and she stood awkwardly in the corner since every available chair and table was claimed by a cheerful duo. Unsure of how to handle herself, Mao played with her scarf and refused to look up at the people giving her confused and what she thought were malevolent glances. The staff started to notice her lack of interest in buying anything, and were shooting her dirty looks over the counter. Mao felt her face redden and hot tears gather in her eyes. Where was he? How could he be late? Especially today, of all days? She panicked, closing her eyes and pretending she couldn’t notice the stares. It was difficult. She kept feeling like a mouse surrounded by hawks, and they were realizing that she didn’t belong.

Of course not. She was standing in a café alone.

Mao nervously picked up her phone again and punched in his familiar number. The text message remained blank, despite the words she felt like shouting: WHERE ARE U???!!!!! But she couldn’t bring herself to type them, so she sighed and closed her phone. 1:20. He was late. Mao sighed again and felt her hand close around the lump in her pocket. If he wasn’t going to show up… Mao almost pulled the package out, but stopped herself. She’d wait a little longer. After all, today was the day for love after all. She should wait just a bit longer. Besides, she hadn’t been waiting very long.

But she kept feeling people’s eyes on her, could almost hear their thoughts questioning her presence, and see their little groups whispering together at their tables.

Overwhelming gratitude rushed over her when the bell over the door jingled again. Tom walked in and glanced at the crowd, saw her, and smiling, strode over to where she was standing.

“Sorry! You been waiting long?” He asked, flashing her an innocent grin. She smiled back at him. After all, it had really only been eleven minutes.

“Just a little while. Happy Valentines Day,” she said, kissing him on the cheek. Then she withdrew the chocolate from her coat pocket and he presented the customary rose, and bought her a mocha with whipped cream as an apology. He didn’t know about the tough minutes she’d had waiting for him.