It was early in the day, on a Wednesday that month of October when they first met. Students were sitting idly, chatting their brunches away, clutching their medical books as they came and went. He sat in the far corner, away from the murmur and chatter of the patrons. He felt like an outsider, and in fact he was.
He didn't study anywhere near this cafe, in fact he didn't even study at all.
He sat there, solitary in a coffee shop full of college students waiting for someone. Waiting. Unlike Mr. BlueSlacks over yonder, sipping his frozen beverage through a domed cup, having just got off his phone with Ms Colleague making sure about where they would meet up before and after class and other such pleasantries, leaving his lonely drink, the lonely napkin clinging to it at it's sides, desperately, wetly before stepping out to the real world.
He cradled under his arm books, which he brought with him everywhere. His books gave him a sort of inner stillness. He sat there, still waiting.
Unlike Ms Highlighter and Ms Hairnet over there, noses dangling over tomes of medical maladies and history. Scribbling away mad equations and dashing left to right in furious streaks of hot pink and neon green, in fear of their superiors, fueling their efforts. His books contained and incurred nothing of the kind. His books were special. dog-eared and tattered, yellow with moldy spots from moisture exposure.
In the cafe he tried to focus his tired eyes, trying to contract his pupils into the size of pinholes, the bright light reflecting off the gray pavement outside was giving him headaches and funny visions. He only had a few hours of sleep last night, and as a matter of fact; he hardly sleeps at all and weighing in at a hefty 110 lbs... or less. Having had only toothpaste for breakfast and a cold shower for that extra boost of electrolytes, he waited there, crumpled, sleepy and hungry. At least he was clean and his breath was fresh.
She walked in from the bright early afternoon that Wednesday in October. She had brought a friend with her, a precautionary in case the guy she was supposed to meet from clandestine correspondences turned out to be an axe-wielding maniac- and if so were the case, her friend would be there to whisk her away to some school-related emergency or some other slightly complicated alibi. She walked in and surveyed the place. Which one could he be? Where is he? Her slightly myopic eyes squinting in the dim and bright relief that was the interior. She spied something in the corner of her eye- in the far corner over there. A haggard and poor thing. Harmless, slightly pathetic. She waved to her friend, a signal which meant "Its ok, you can go now." There had to be no one else, she thought. Its gotta be him. He fits the bill.
She looked around once more. Yep, thats him. She never thought she could meet someone this way, being as odd as she was- which was why she agreed to their rendezvous in the first place. In fact, she was quite odd in a number ways; she collects books and preserves them through highly unorthodox preparations, she has a fetish for Scottish brogues and she too was also quite keen on rainy gray days in Europe, even though she's never been.
He saw a fuzzy image materialize before him, and immediately felt something even fuzzier in the air, similar to static but weaker. It was her, it had to be her. It could be no one else. No mistaking it. He got up from his chair and bowed low, with a hand behind his back. A bow fit for royalty. She curtsied as if she was royalty herself, gripping the sides of an imaginary skirt.
It was early in the afternoon that Wednesday in October. He ordered some coffee and for her a hot chocolate that she stirred gently and sipped softly as she listened intently to his ramblings on life and about his books that he carried with him almost everywhere. She was always keeping an eyebrow cocked, a sign of knowing and interest. She looked sinister when she had that brow raised, but to him it was intriguing like an equation two decimal points s away from the right answer.
What do you do? she would later ask him. I write 70 word short stories, he would later answer. May I read them? she would ask. Of course, he would say. He took out a 3 inch pencil from his trusty plaid satchel that always carried his books, rent and rendered from the weight of books being transported here and nowhere. He scribbled furiously for about a minute on a napkin. He slid it over to her side, almost touching her hand. She snatches it just in time, eyebrow arched high and starts reading:
A spider chanced by another spider in the heights of a renaissance cathedral.
“Hello there,” said the spider to the other, dangling in mid air quietly.
“Fascinating these humans, are they not?” asked the first.
“No, not really.” answered the second.
“What do you know about humans?” quivered and queried the first with curiosity. At this, the second spider traipsed away quite quietly, quipping “They have terrible taste in architecture.”
Exactly 70 words?
And you memorized this?
Yes. 70 isn't that high. Think of how many words you know.
I'm not sure how many.
Do you know these words?
He took the napkin and wrote something in the back, almost hesitating to write some more. He gave her the napkin, she read:
Will you see me once more?
Her eyebrow was dangerously high for about a moment, until it lowered and she smiled. Yes, she would later say.
A week after that fateful afternoon, two bodies were huddled together in a dark and cold place. She was next to him and he was next to her. They both whispered wit to each other at appropriate beats. Both wholly enjoyed the experience, she having the pleasure of his company. And he having the pleasure of enjoying movies the way they should be; with someone else. It was late in the afternoon, that Wednesday in October.
this was found in a draft folder of my old email address. written BEFORE i joined ES and probably re-written a little after joining. i am adding the 'description' here as i believe it detracts from the actual piece. slightly edited for 10 minutes or so then posted. this has got to be the oldest piece ever from my early years as a 'writer'. were we so innocent then? were we so pure? was the time before the iPhone and social network and youtube so long ago? nope.