so what are you then?
“To murder.” I mutter under my breathe.
“I heard that.” He has an easy laugh. Like ringing a bell. “Is this how you treat all the guys who come up to you?” He leans forward, putting his elbows on the table. The smile on his face doesn’t falter. It becomes more open somehow. Interesting.
I’m not sure what to make of my table companion. He’s calm and collected, sure, but he’s also something else. Something I can’t quite put my finger on.
“Well, you’re the first guy whose come up to me so I’m just going to assume it’s because you want to murder me.” I say leaning back in my chair and crossing my arms over my chest. For some reason I’m defensive. As if he suddenly insulted me.
“That can’t be true.” He looks at me curiously and takes a sip of coffee. He looks down at it as if realizing, for the first time, it’s actually coffee that’s in his hand. He places it back on the table and gives a slight nudge towards the center.
“That’s what the murderer always says. They’re not going to admit to being a murderer.” I say starring at his coffee. I can’t help but wonder if he’s even a caffeine addict. It doesn’t seem to suit him like it does most people at the tables around us. So why would he bother buying it?
“Two things. One: you want to know the main reason most criminals get caught?” He doesn’t wait for me to respond and instead continues with a smirk on his face. He enjoys proving me wrong. “It’s because they can’t help gloating about what they’ve done. What’s the point of the “perfect crime” or in your case, the “perfect murder”, if no one knows about your glorious accomplishment?” He looks at me with a smile and a question and exaggerated air quotes.
“So, what’s the second thing?” The question seems to please him and he gives me a wry smile. He looks down at the table and notices the coffee he’s abandoned. He reaches for the cup but immediately thinks better of it.
“The second thing is that there is no way that I’m the first guy whose come up to you.” He gives me a side glance, not directly meeting my eyes but doesn’t look away either. There it is again. That thing that I can’t quite put my finger on.
“Oh.” I respond quietly. He looks down at his crossed arms on the table and doesn’t speak for a moment. When he looks back up, his eyes lock on the notebook clenched in my hand. He reaches out a for it and I reflexively snatch it back before he can get his murderous paws on it.
“Whoa, easy.” He says and puts his hands up in surrender, as if I were the cop with a gun pointed at his head and he’s the criminal whose just been caught red handed. “I just wanted to see what you were writing.” He looks directly at me and his eyes are clear. He’s sincere. Is that what this “thing” is?
“It’s not for you.” I say automatically and hold the notebook against me chest with a glare on my face. He just leans back and smiles an insufferable smile.
“For British Eyes Only?” He asks with a smirk. I can’t help but laugh at his Arrested Development reference. He seems to take some pleasure in releasing me from my hostility, if only for a moment.
“Okay, Mr. F. Why did you say you’ve been looking for me?”I ask, ignoring his comment and silently cursing my inability to refrain from reacting to a good pop culture reference.
He leans back in his chair and grins at me, his arms crossed over his chest. I lower my notebook back onto the table. “I’ve seen you in here a few times and I’ve been wanting to say something for a while.” He says, looking directly at me, boring holes in my brain with dark readable eyes. I force myself to tear my gaze away from his.
“So, you’re a stalker. Great, that’s so much better.” At that, he looks away from me, but not before I see the deject look on his face. It’s one that says “well, I give up”. He pushes his chair out and makes to get up from the table. I put a hand out to stop him. “Wait, I’m sorry. Please, don’t leave.”
He looks unsure but slowly sits back down and picks his coffee up. He still doesn’t drink it. He remains quiet and waits for me to speak.
“I get a little defensive sometimes with people.” I say, not meeting his gaze. I fiddle with my notebook in my hand and try to reign in my uneasiness of the topic.
“Why is that?” He asks quietly. I watch as he plays with his his empty coffee cup. Like me, he seems in desperate need to do something with his hands.
“I just always assume people have an ulterior motive for doing things.” It’s true. I’ve never been very good with people. I usually seem to rub them the wrong way, which in turn, rubs me the wrong way. It’s a double edged sword.
“I see.” He says and then looks at all the people sitting at tables around us. “Look around you. What do you see?” The question catches me off guard and I falter with a response.
“I see…” I trail off and take a look around and it’s all there. People and places and things. Some have headphones and laptops, others have books and cups of tea, and others are just simply leaning towards each other and having quiet conversations. “I see people living their lives, I guess.”
“And does that seem insincere?” He waves his hand out towards them, as if to bring them into himself. “Does this seem insincere? This life?”
I look around and examine them more. I see movement and solitude and contentment. “No. It doesn’t.” I answer truthfully, but I’m still confused by what he’s getting at. “So what does that mean?”
“It doesn’t have to mean anything. It just is. That man is just there working to pay his rent. That woman is just meeting a friend she hasn’t seen in a while. That couple is just falling in love. And I’m just here sitting across from a girl having a conversation I never believed would happen.” He smiles at me and turns his head in towards himself. He laughs slightly and looks back at me.
“So what are you doing here?” He asks suddenly.
“I’m just a girl whose talking to a boy.”