Vellichor #atozchallenge

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Vellichor; the strange wistfulness of used bookstores.

What is it about used book shops? You go, you browse, you pick up a few books, you read a few pages, sometimes you buy book/s and other times you don’t. You might stay for coffee if they  have a cafe. It’s a meeting place, a talking point, a land of discovery.

You like the smells that whiffed from the shelves; old ink, yellowing pages, dusty attic, dampness and salty tang. You like running your fingers over cracked spines and flattened leather. You like pulling random books out and seeing what they are. You wonder who the previous owner/s and why they give this book up.

You enjoy a good mystery and there is always just more then the story inside to be had. You adore supernatural and horror too; ghosts give you chills and vampires have you shaking at your knees. You love adventures to far off lands or under deep seas or high in the sky. Science fiction always makes you ponder if this is what the future will really look like even though it’s your less favourite.

If you could you’d live in the used book shops. In fact, your home is slowly turning into one. Your bedroom is floor to ceiling with books! You’ve read most of them, but there are others still waiting to be read and still you go to the used book shop to see more. It’s an addiction, a terrible terrible addiction and yet, its harmless.

Somnambulist (Part 2) #atozchallenge

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Somnambulist; a person who sleepwalks.

As soon as they were done eating, Chase tidied up and Faith dug a paperback romance novel out and began reading it. The camping lanterns glowed softly, casting just enough light to see by. The night was growing cold though and Chase wished they had matches.

‘I’m going to check again,’ he announced as he left things to dry.

Faith looked up at him, slight confusion on her face.

‘For the matches,’ Chase explained, ‘maybe I just missed them?’

‘Okay. I’m going into my sleeping bag. To get warm,’ Faith spoke.

Chase nodded and went over to the tent. He unzipped it and began looking through the bags again. Faith brushed past him, wiggling out of her boots as she did so. Chase heard her moving things around and the air bed squeaking.

‘I know I packed them,’ he muttered.

Faith sighed and said, ‘forget it. Come to bed. We’ll keep each other warm.’

‘It’s still early,’ Chase pointed out.

‘You got any better ideas?’ she snapped.

Biting his tongue to keep silent, Chase grabbed the other lantern and arranged it next to the one Faith had brought inside, so that they had a large pool of light. He zipped up the tent and took his trainers off.

Not being a reader, he hadn’t brought anything to do and he felt too awake to sleep. He changed clothes, noticing that Faith hadn’t bothered to get out of her jeans and hoodie. Chase put on some PJs pants and an old Star Wars t-shirt then got into his sleeping bag.

‘I guess we are going home tomorrow, then?’ he asked slowly.

Faith glared at him over the top of her book, ‘Looks that way,’ she answered.

‘I’m sorry, okay? I wanted to have a break from things and money is so tight right now, I thought this would be a good idea. If I’d remembered the matches it would be fine. What else can I do?’ Chase demand.

Faith was silent for a few moments. She turned a page then put down her book to look at him, ‘I don’t know what you can do, Chase. I knew this was a bad idea from the start. What’s wrong with another weekend in anyway? I’m too tried to fight about this now. I’m going to sleep.’

‘Well, I can’t!’

‘Here then, read this,’ Faith stated and handed him her book.

She turned off the lantern next to her and rolled over.

Chase took the hint and began flicking through the book. It was a simple romance story of a lonely girl meeting a heart throb man and the two of them slowly falling in love. Chase turned back to the began and read the first few pages.

‘This is boring. How can you read this?’ Chase muttered.

Faith hushed him and snuggled more down in the sleeping bag.

‘Guess I got nothing better to do.’

Chase turned another page and read a good few chapters. The story still not grabbing him, but at least it had made him tried enough to try and sleep. Putting the book down close to Faith, he turned out the lantern and drew her into a hug.

Faith, who had been dozing on and off, shuffled about so they could be comfy together. She sighed into his arm and fell asleep soon after. It took longer for Chase, but being warm and comfy helped and he dozed off.

Chase came slowly too, fighting to stay asleep, but he didn’t make it. Opening his eyes, he looked into pitch blackness. He wondered what had awoken him then realised he had to go. Growling, he fumbled in the dark for his trainers, put them on and felt for the tent zip.

Letting himself out of the tent, Chase grabbed a lantern and went out into the woods. He turned the light on and found the nearest tree. A cold wind blew around him, stealing away the warmth from the tent. Setting the lantern down, so the light pooled around the tree roots, he relieved himself.

Collecting the lantern, he headed back into the tent. Pulling his trainers off, he turned the light off and snuggled back down with Faith. His hands sank through her empty sleeping bag.

Puzzled, he felt further to the side, but he found nothing. Chase grabbed and turned on the lantern again. Light shone down, showing him that Faith wasn’t inside the tent.

Maybe, she went out too? he thought.

Looking around, he spotted the other lantern and her boots which she clearly hadn’t taken. Chase unzipped the tent and standing on the edge, shone the lantern around. Faith wouldn’t have gone far. She clearly, trusted herself to find the way back more then he had.

She disturbed me going out, Chase thought, maybe she was so desperate she didn’t have time to grab her things? She’ll be back any moment now.

Watching out for her, Chase studied the shadows that the light was casting over the grass and trees. Trying not to think what was further out there in the darkness, he debated what to do.

Shrugging, he placed the lantern down outside of the tent, left the half unzipped and climbed back into bed. At least, Faith would be able to see the light now. Settling down, Chase fell into fitful dozing. An hour or so later, he awoke and saw Faith’s sleeping bag was still empty.

Panic floored him.

‘Faith?’ he cried out.

Scrambling, Chase put on his trainers and grabbed the other lantern. He unzipped the tent and got out. Leaving the first light as a beacon, he scouted the edge of the clearing calling his girlfriend’s name.

He heard and saw nothing.

Ploughing further into the woods, he roamed a large area. Low branches scrapped his face and arms, he stumbled over half hidden tree roots and startled small animals. He switched from shouting her name to screaming it. He tripped through a patch of brambles, feeling thorns snag on his pants. He tugged himself loose and hurried down to the river.

In the lantern light, he could see the shallow water slowly moving over large rocks. He walked downwards for a few minutes then turned and walked back up. He looked as far as he could and checked the other side of the river too. There was no sign of her or anything else that indicted she had been here.

‘Faith,’ he yelled, his voice growing horse, ‘where are you?’

Pausing, he caught his breath and tried to calm himself. Ideas about what had happened raced through his mind. Had she fallen and gotten hurt? Had someone kidnapped her? Had she really got lost in the woods?

Chase wiped his face, feeling his cheek wet with tears. He calmed himself and decided to check back at the tent. If Faith wasn’t there, he could take the car until he got signal on his phone then he could call the police. Heading back, he kept a look out, but tiredness had hit him.

Half way back to the tent, he heard the sound of voices and laughter. He stopped and listened hard. Turning to his right, he walked slowly over. The voices grew then as he got closer they fell silent. He paused then heard Faith’s voice saying something.

Crying out her name, he pushed through the undergrowth and saw Faith sit on the floor, with her back to a tree.

‘Faith? What happened? Are you okay? I’ve been looking everywhere for you!’ Chase gushed.

He knelt down before her and began checking her out. She seemed unhurt. There was a dreamily look on her face and her eyes were shut.

Chase shook her, but she didn’t respond.

‘Faith?’ he called.

He pulled her into a hard hug, feeling at a total loss. Barely holding back tears, he tried to figure things out, but he couldn’t.

‘Chase?’ a breathy voice whispered in his ear.

‘Yes?’ he said, pulling back from Faith.

‘Where are we?’

Chase looked at her. Faith’s eyes were half opening and she was struggling to stay awake and move.

‘In the woods. You left the tent and I’ve been looking for you,’ he explained.

‘I don’t remember….I was having this strange dream about fairies…’ Faith uttered.

She shut her eyes and lent against him, exhausted.

‘It’s okay. I got you now. Do you think you can get up?’

Faith mumbled something and Chase pulled her up.

‘Let’s go back to the tent. You’ll feel better soon,’ he added.

Grabbing the lantern, they slowly made their way back and once there, Chase put Faith to bed and spent the rest of the night watching over her.

Somnambulist (Part 1) #atozchallenge

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Somnambulist; a person who sleepwalks.  

Hammering the last of the tent pegs into the soft ground, Chase felt glad to finally have put up the four man tent. Sitting back on on his heels, he made sure the tent wire was tight and the peg firmly in. The thin rope give off a high pitch twang as he flicked it. Nodding, he got up, mallet slowly swinging in an arm that had gone numb with the strain of working.

‘Tent’s up!’ he called cheerfully.

He walked back around and saw his girlfriend building a fire a good few meters away. She had made a rock circle and was now building up a pyramid of branches. An range of camping things were around her as if she been searching through them.

‘You okay, Faith?’ Chase asked.

‘I can’t find the matches. You did pack them right?’ she said over her shoulder.

‘Yes. They were on your list.’

Faith pulled a face and turned to carry on building the fire, ‘You better find them.’

Chase put the mallet back in the tent bag and came to her side. He began searching through the bags. Everything had been in order, but Faith had messed things up. He found the pots and pans, the BBQ stuff, beach towels, tins of cola and clothes.

‘They’re not there are they?’ Faith said, sounding smug.

‘They might be in the car,’ Chase answered.

Leaving things more of a mess, he walked back to the  small red car, which they had parked just out of view in the shade of the trees. The clearing they where in was a jagged circle shape, boarded by tall trees. It was a sheltered spot but very accessible by the little road that ran straight through it from the main one. The clearing was a well known camping area, but most people came in summer or the warm nights of autumn.

Chase had decided that April would be warm and dry enough for this little get away. As he opened the car door though, he had his third doubting moment.

If there are no matches, we’ll have go home. Sure we can do without them, but cold meals? And if it gets colder later? Faith won’t like that. Maybe we could stay the night? I don’t want to take the tent down now I just got it up, thought Chase.

He began rummaging in the car. Hoping that the matches had fallen out or he’d put them somewhere safe before they left. Finding nothing, he double checked everywhere. Maybe, they had slipped down the seats? Maybe, they had gotten to the back of the glove box? Under the foot mats?

Nothing. Sighing, he stood up. Closing everything and locking the car, he went back to Faith.

‘I can’t find them,’ he announced.

Faith sighed deeply and tossed the last of the wood down. She got to her feet, cleaning her hands on the knees of her jeans.

‘You better get rubbing two sticks together then,’ she stated.

Chase shrugged and replied, ‘I’ll give it a shot.’

‘I’ll sort and put things away,’ Faith added.

Chase sat down and began looking for two sticks that would be suitable. Faith collected the bags and began moving stuff into the tent. Around them, a gentle breeze shook the newly leafing trees, birds sing the last songs of the day and the sky was turning dusky. Hardly anything else could be heard, even if a car drove past, the road was a good few miles away so the sound was faint.

After a good few minutes of rubbing sticks and trying to make sparks with stones, Chase give up. He sprawled out over the just dry grass, exhausted. He shut his eyes and tried to think of what to do.

It’s not the end of the world. We have camping lights and cold food we can eat. Can’t cook meat though…or heat up marshmallows. 

‘Have you given up?’ Faith’s voice cut into his thoughts, ‘I’m going to the stream to get water. It’s all ready going dark. So decided what we are eating.’

Chase opened his eyes and raised himself on his elbows. Faith was framed nicely by the dusky pink sky. She looked dirty and tried though.

‘Fine…This isn’t the romantic weekend I had planned,’ Chase responded.

‘That would have been a hotel,’ Faith uttered.

Chase heard her, but he let it go. It was an on going argument, he had given up on.

‘Want a hand?’ he said instead.

‘No,’ Faith declared.

She grabbed the things she needed and stalked off. Chase flopped back on the grass and watched the sky turn into twilight. After a few minutes, he got up and dusted himself down. He walked over to the tent and saw that Faith had all ready pumped up the double air bed. She had put the sleeping bags and pillows on too, making the bed look inviting. 

At the foot of bed, Faith had put the other bags and suitcases. Chase started looking through them then remember that all the food was in the car. Grabbing a tin of cola, he opened it and walked over to the tree line. 

The wind picked up, shaking the trees and the bird song died. Chase paused, feeling a chill across his bare arms. He frowned and glanced around, but he couldn’t spot anything. 

Night has arrived, he thought. 

He went to the car and got out things to make sandwiches and the picnic snacks. He went back to the tent and picked up the camping lanterns. He turned them on and set them by both sides of the tent door. He got making sandwiches. By the time he had put things together for a simple cold meal, Faith arrived back with a bucket of water and another bucket filled with water bottles. 

‘Dinner’s ready,’ Chase declared. 

‘Thanks,’ Faith said, she placed the buckets down next to the abandoned stack of wood and joined him. 

Chase handed her a plastic plate filled with tasty things then started to eat his sandwich. 

‘Chase, have you been here this whole time?’ Faith asked slowly.

‘Yep,’ he replied around a chunk of sandwich, ‘why?’

‘Whilst I was getting the water, I felt like someone was watching me and then after, when I went to….I heard whispering.’ 

Chase paused and looked at her. Faith’s face was full of puzzlement and she hadn’t touched her food. 

‘I called out and there was nothing. I looked around, but I didn’t find anything,’ Faith added. 

‘It wasn’t me and nothing happened here,’ Chase pointed out. 

Faith nodded and began eating. 

To Be Continued…

Opia #atozchallenge

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Opia; the ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable.

He was holding me tightly and I was staring into his brown eyes trying to decide what to do. I felt a weird mixture of emotions and too much was tumbling through my mind to focus. I knew I should say something, but the words wouldn’t form.

His eyes were so intense with the weight of the question that I felt vulnerable. What would he do if I said the wrong thing? I couldn’t think of that. However, I couldn’t think of an answer either.

I took a deep breath and tried to break eye contact with him. I just needed a moment without his gaze. Would he see that as a wrong move though? Catching myself just in time, I wondered what was really holding me back from answering him.

There were too many things….What did I want though? I bit my lip, juggling the words on my tongue. It could only be ‘yes’ or ‘no’ that I squeezed out. My heart knew the right one to say, but my head said the opposite.

Whatever I picked, it would change both our lives.

‘Well?’ he said, finally crumbling at the long wait.

I took a deep breath and hoping I said the right thing, I replied, ‘I love you too.’

Imbroglio #atozchallenge

 

pexels-photo-89820.jpegImbroglio: an extremely confusing and embarrassing situation.

I wanted to hide my shame, but I couldn’t, the best I could do was get up and leave. Even though that didn’t feel right. I had always been one to stand my ground just like my mother had told me. She had been too headstrong and modern for this tiny Irish village in the middle of nowhere. She had never been accepted by the locals and many were happy that she was now dead.

Wrapping my shawl tighter around me, I walked across hilly ground. Not really going anywhere because sometimes you just had to walk away. The wind twisted my loose hair about and though I felt the chill, I was warm enough. My hands dropped to my rounded stomach that was no longer concealable.

Behind me, I could still hear the villagers’ voices and laughter, even though the pub was miles away now. I blamed my mind and the fact that their harsh words would always linger with me. I wanted it not to be true, but it was hard not to believe them when I myself didn’t know.

I came to a sheltered nook and gratefully sat down. The thin grass was dry and so was the soil below. I curled up as best I could, wanting to feel safe. I tried switching my mind to other things, but I couldn’t let it go.

Sighing, I wondered why love had to be so confusing. Even the most simple love could be, but in my case it was far from simple. My hand rubbed my stomach in circles as I fell into more deeper thinking.

Was the man I had fallen in love with and grown to know for two years really lying to me?

The locals said he wasn’t American like he claimed to be, but a born and bred Irish man. He’d gone to America to be an actor, but that hadn’t lasted long. Now, he was working where he could and he was married with a family too.

I just couldn’t picture my dashing boyfriend being like that. For a start, when I’d announced my news he’d been delighted. Surely if I was his mistress he’d have recoiled? And he’s away so much because he’s an actor and he has to travel to filming locations.

Rattling my mind, I tried to think if I had ever noticed anything that might have suggested other wise. Had their been papers about? A call or text on his phone? Reminders on his fridge?

There seemed to be nothing. I had to know though! I got up, struggling to do so then under a darkening sky, I walked back to the village.

I needed to hear the truth, not just for my piece of mind but for the baby’s too.

Cynophilist #atozchallenge

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Cynophilist: A person who loves dogs. 

Even though it was a warm sunny day, the blinds were drawn over the top floor photography studio’s windows. No sun was leaking into the cool room which was artificially lit to create the perfect cast of light and that was just how Pepper liked it. Standing next to her tripod, with her hand on top of the large camera balanced on top, she waited whilst her assistant, Angel, rearranged things.

‘Stay still and be a good girl, Tilly,’ Angel was saying gently as she placed the tiny puppy in an overlarge tea cup.

Pepper watched and felt the tiredness of holding a smile on her face for so long. The little black and tan terrier puppy was so cute. It was hard not to smile. The cuteness was made made even more so by the set up for third lot of photos; puppy at a tea party. Pepper and Angel had made up the small platform to look like a small garden with a picnic and afternoon tea going on. Tilly, the puppy was the center piece.

Angel stepped down from the platform and out of view. Leaving Pepper to do her side of the work. Looking at the camera screen, Pepper took a few photos, till she had the perfect one. Then getting out, she went over and scooped the puppy up. Tilly yipped and wagged her tail madly. Her little tongue licked everywhere it could and Pepper broke into laughter.

‘This is still the best job I’ve ever had working with dogs,’ Pepper announced.

‘Mine too,’ Angel answered.

She had come over as well, a clipboard in her hands.

‘What scene is next?’ Pepper asked as she cradled Tilly in her arms.

‘The cakes,’ Angel replied.

They both smiled at each other. This scene was going to be fun to photograph.

The Bookworm

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I don’t know what was going through Kim’s mind that day. Only that she wanted to be left alone. My old gran would’ve said that girl was away with the clouds and why couldn’t I find someone normal to have as a girlfriend?

I didn’t want normal though. I wanted the unexpected and unusual. I wanted more excitement then a cheerleader – who were way out of my zone anyway and more beautiful then the geeks and nerd girls. Saying that though, Kim was a bit of a geek. Though she always denied it.

We were meant to have a date that evening. But as we left school, Kim told me it was off then left without another word. I pondered as I walked home if that meant we had broken up, but Kim would have said that. She was a girl of few words and when she spoke it was only to say what she meant.

The late afternoon was pleasant enough, for the end of March. There’d been a lot of rain recently, but it was a mostly dry and sunny day. I didn’t much feel like going home. But I was feeling stuffy in my uniform. So, I headed there to get changed.

There was plenty of things I could do, like homework or playing on my Xbox, maybe seeing if anyone else was up for hanging out. I wasn’t in the mood though. Kim had put me off and my thoughts were fixed on her.

What was her reason? She’d never cancelled on me before and we’d been dating for five months or so now. Yes, I wanted to sleep with her, but I was willing to wait. If she’d been ill or busy with something else, why didn’t she just say? It had been simply, ‘I can’t meet tonight. Sorry.’

I could text or call her, but Kim wasn’t one for phones. Instead, I decided to go and see if I could just find her by wondering about. A crazy, long shot of an idea, but it had worked before.

Grabbing a jacket, I left and walked around our small town. I checked Kim’s house, but there was no one home. I checked the school, but it was now locked for the night. I searched shops, the library, the little parks. Finally, I walked out to the woods.

There were a handful of dog walkers, a jogger and some school kids from the other high school dotted around. I was about to give up, maybe she’d gone out of town? Some emergency she couldn’t tell me about? Other ideas popped into my head and my feet came to a stop.

I was facing the river. The water was flowing gently, causing the grass and tree branches which dipped in to move also. It was a pretty spot. I looked further to my right watching the river moving past me. Something caught my eyes. There was a large branch stretching over the river and laying on it was Kim!

She still had her uniform on, but she had let down her long black hair. There was a book covering her face and her school bag was hanging up close by. She seemed to be asleep.

I walked over and lent around the tree. It was easy enough to climb up and walk over, but I didn’t want to. Instead, I said Kim’s name gently and tried to wake her. It took a few attempts.

‘Go away, Dustin,’ Kim said.

‘Why? What are you doing?’ I asked.

‘Communicating with this book,’ she replied.

I frowned, ‘why?’

‘Because it’s hard and I’m trying to understand it. Now go away!’

‘Is that why you cancelled our date?’ I asked.

‘No,’ Kim answered.

I waited, but she didn’t say any more. I rubbed my fingers over the bark of the tree and felt how rough and dry it was. Kim just lay there, book still over her face.

‘Then, why?’ I pressed.

‘Because I wasn’t in the mood,’

‘Oh.’

I put cheek to the tree trunk and stared at her. Kim had really nice legs. She wasn’t wearing tights or leggings today, a sure sign the weather was getting warmer. Her skirt was knee length though and give her the cover she needed. Her blouse was still tucked in and I could see it swelling around her chest when she breathed in. Even though I hadn’t seen them yet, Kim had small boobs.

I couldn’t decided what to do. From her demeanour it was clear I should go, but I didn’t want to. There was enough room on the branch for me if I wanted to sit close to her feet. Or, I could sit at the foot of the tree. What was the point in waiting for her when she’d made it clear she didn’t want me though?

‘I guess, I should go,’ I said, a little too loudly.

Kim finally took the book off her face and looked at me.

I lent off the tree and got ready to make a move.

‘You don’t have,’ Kim said, ‘I’m bored anyway.’

She sat up and shuffled along the branch. She put the book in her bag, tugged it down and put the strap over her head. The she clung on to the tree trunk and slowly climbed down. I helped her over the last bit then give her a hug.

‘What’s the book about?’ I asked.

‘Seventeen century witches’ plays,’ she added.

‘Witch plays?’

Kim held my hand and we began walking.

‘Yeah, because people in the sixteen hundreds loved witches.’

I nodded, noticing the sarcasm in her voice. Kim swung our hands and we headed down a quiet little path.

‘Maybe, you can help me figure it out later?’ she said.

‘Sure. Does this mean we get to have our date after all?’ I asked.

‘I guess…You’re going to pay for dinner, right?’

I shook my head, unbelieving that and Kim laughed at me.

The First Thing

Vanila Sundae With Choco on Top

The first thing she found herself craving was ice cream. It was weird but she couldn’t get enough, even at 3AM when she should have been sleeping. She had her excuses though and blamed the fact that she was going to have a summer baby.

(Inspired from; https://first50.wordpress.com/2017/03/17/the-first-thing)

On The Other Side #3linetales

three line tales week 58: a man behind a fence

The fence would always divided us,

physically, mentally and emotionally.

It was the barrier I could never break down.

 

(Inspired from; https://only100words.xyz/2017/03/09/three-line-tales-week-58. Photo by Jake Oates via Unsplash)

Mystery Love

black-and-white, coffee, couple

I don’t know how it happened really. The coffee shop was busy again, just like it had been on Friday and there was no where else to sit but next to him!

She sat down next to me, muttering, ‘excuse me,’ and clutching her bag and coffee mug. I shuffled to the side, trying hard not to look at her. I had admired her from a far for so long and now she was next to me!

‘I’m sorry,’ I said, ‘It’s busy here today.’

‘Yes, it is. Must be the weather,’ he responded.

I nodded and tried to keep my eyes off him. But they kept wondering back towards his dark hair and nicely shaped chin.

She was looking at me and I was trying so hard to avoid her. However, our eyes finally met. She smiled, a small one at first then she tucked a strand of red hair behind her ear and smiled wider.

‘I like your hair. It’s really red,’ I spoke.

‘It’s natural,’ she responded, ‘I like your hair too.’

Then she giggled and settled back on the plush sofa. She picked up her coffee, but it must have been too hot because she placed it down again.

He was watching me and I was trying to be all casual, but I could feel it wasn’t working. I wanted to say something, act all chatting and hide my crush for him. The words didn’t want to form but as the silence stretched I knew I had to say something.

‘Terrible weather,’ I said.

‘It really is. I think the news said it was a storm. It’s meant to snow later,’ he replied.

‘Yes, I saw that too. I really hope it doesn’t snow!’ I cried.

‘Why?’ he asked.

I thought a moment before answering, ‘I don’t mind it, I just don’t like being in it. I guess that’s how most people feel. What about you?’

He shrugged, ‘I don’t mind it either way.’

She looked away, out at the steaming up windows and the rain dripping down. I looked down at my phone and began flicking through things, not really interested in anything. I wanted to ask her questions, but I couldn’t do it. Maybe more small talk would help? But I didn’t know what else to say.

The silence grew again. She noticed it and started talking again.

‘You know, I’ve seen you before.’

‘In here?’ I asked.

She nodded, ‘I’ve been trying to figure you out. But I guess you must really like the coffee here or something.’

She laughed and her cheeks flushed. She was embarrassed. She turned away, looking at the people, the windows, the art on the walls, anything other then me.

‘Actually….’ I began and trailed.

He spoke and I turned back to him, fussing with my hair and scolding myself for saying something stupid. He didn’t seem to have noticed though. He was looking thoughtful now and picking over his words.

‘The coffee is rather good here,’ he announced.

I nodded and picked my mug up. I was having a hot chocolate today and it was still too warm to drink.

‘But there is another reason…’ he said, ‘you.’

I frowned and looked at him, not sure I’d heard him right.

‘Me?’ I questioned.

‘Yes. Do you think sometime, if you are free, you’d like to go on a date with me?’ he asked, shyly.

I smiled and nodded, ‘yes, I’d really like that.’