Together apart

[This is a writing exercise. I’m just trying to get back into the habit of writing something, anything, be it good or (quite likely) bad. No editing allowed.]


She turned around. It wasn’t graceful. Half of her body tried to race around the axis of her gravity, with as much haste and excitement as a small child on Christmas morning, full of hope with eyes wide at the presents she knew were waiting.

The other half did not cooperate. It was slow, almost glacial in its reluctance. It was as though this half of her body had, at one time, had her heart raked out with dirty forks leaving a scraped, bony hollow cavity in her chest. She did not want to experience that again.

While her hope and fears battled fiercely in the battlefield of her body, the result was a choppy, all too self-conscious twisting that was both piroutte and eliptical orpit.

A table shook, glasses wobbled, and a flower vase, that was much too fashionable to be practical, fell over onto a bone-white china espresso cup and opened novel. How many times has she sat in this very cafe with books and flower vases and espresso, blessing each in turn, cherishing them like momentary fireflies in the summer. And here they were, revolting against her happiness, sabotaging the possibility of her most secret dream… to know his smell mixed with the secret language of the moon.

Red flower and green water took up black coffee into Bachaic dance across the ordered pages of the meek little book. Drunk with caffeine the printed words disappeared from their duties into the fog of possibility. Across the white linen tablecloth the coffee and water raced for the edge of the table and, having reached the edge of freedom, hesitated but a quickened breath before leaping together into the unknown… come what may.

Her shoulders drew together and forward as if she had wings that, though unable to fly away to safety, could at least hide her embarrasment. A constellation of eyes were around her, yet she was aware of only his, and they burned brightly. From such sight she could not hide her loneliness and fear, her clumsiness and heartbreak. A hasty truce was reached in the battle of her heart, both sides wanted to flee. United in purpose she moved with the quickness of a panicked gazelle.


Every day he came. What else to do? Put an ad in the paper? What should he write? Shy guy looking for book reading girl seen a few dozen times in coffee shop but was too afraid to talk to her? His shoes were old sneakers and one of them squeaked. It sounded like stepping on a small chew toy every time he stepped with his left foot. Instead of walking six blocks to a nearby cafe, he rode his bicycle to a further cafe so he wouldn’t have to walk with his embarrassing shoes past the cool, interesting people.

It was here that he saw her for the first time. Tucked away in the corner, out of the way of everyone, almost out of sight. It was the place he would have chosen to sit down. She was beautiful. Her hair was like long spaghetti, only colored brown and not sticking together. And her nose was slightly upturned and small, almost like a pig’s nose. But on thinking that he felt guilty because he didn’t mean to imply anything pigish about her, nor anything unattractive. It was just the first thing that popped into his mind and, besides, he liked small pigs and thought them cute. But he did have enough wits about him to know that women did not normally liked being compared to pigs and would generally get angry and imagining her anger at his unfortunate comparision, he banished it from his mind.

Only… she just looked up at him. Their eyes met. And in the back of his mind could see the image of Babe the pig singing a cute little song, and the words that’ll do pig immediately leapt to mind. He knew she could read his thoughts in his mind, and he spun around and went straight to his bicycle, leaving the ordered coffee with the pierced, tattooed barista, and rode home… and past it… by about twenty blocks in a meandering pattern of chaos.

He was now uncontrollably lost.

Every day for three weeks he rode by the coffee shop, hoping to see her just once. Truth be told, he saw her nearly every day. He was hoping to see her in the perfect conditions. What that might actually entail was a mystery but it would be like a bolt from Olympus, the calmest of days, the most sublime afternoons. He’d see her, she’d see him, they’d both smile. He’d comment on her book. She’d comment on his. They’d begin talking about their favorite works. They’d go out and get married and live together in a library. It was so perfect in his thoughts every day as he rode to the cafe.

Parking his bicycle at the cafe he could see that she was not at the table. His heart sank and he walked inside to order coffee. Maybe he’ll wait at the table and she’ll come along and want to sit there anyway?

The sound of glass falling from a table caught his attention. By reflex he turned toward the noise and… her. She had been at a different table. How could he have missed her? Gaping in surprise, he stared at her, not able to react. He’d been ambushed and he froze. Behind him he heard the sound of someone snickering, but it was like it was from the end of a long tunnel. He saw only her.


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