A Leap of FaithMature

                I don’t think you notice how much of an effect you have on me. You certainly don’t seem to care all that much as I settle myself into the table across from yours in the coffeehouse corporation we both pay homage to every blasted day of the week. Every day you have a new companion, and I can’t help but feel jealous as Daniel Deronda holds you captivated. The next day its Godwin Peak holding you spellbound, and after that it’s Nick Carraway who’s got your attention. One after the other, but nobody so much as bats an eyelid. Your own eyes remain tumultuously glued to the page, as if looking at me would insult your existence.

                    I chuckle to myself as I wonder if donning a Mr Darcy costume is what it would take to get you to so much as look at me. It’s been a week since you first sat down across from me. Seven days spent in each other’s company. And yet you’ve not so much as said a word to me. I realise I want to know you as I watch your hand fumble awkwardly for your cup of coffee; your eyes trained on the pages and your brow furrowed intensely as you grope blindly. I leave, that day, the door swinging shut behind me, with a smile plastered on my face. You’re a blessing in my hour of need, a ray of sunshine if you’ll excuse the cliché.

                    I don’t even know your name, and yet you’ve got me hanging onto your very existence. There is something about you that holds me spellbound; from the way you chew your bottom lip, your face scrunched up in concentration, to the fact you pull your sweater sleeves down over your hands like you’re trying to hold all the warmth in. You sit with your feet curled underneath you, like a cat as it snoozes in the afternoon sun. Tranquil, yet dogmatic. If you’ll pardon the animal references.

                    Sometimes you blink furiously as you re-read a sentence, and I yearn to know what has you so worked up. But instead of saying anything, I keep quiet as I nurse my cappuccino. Brooding. Waiting for an opportunity to say something. To impress you with my knowledge. And then when you don’t turn up on day eight I’m clueless. When your muse disappears, the mind can’t make art.

                    I blush as I think of the vivid pictures my mind has conjured of you, as I’ve lain in bed late at night, or as my thoughts have wandered during the monotony of my morning showers. I grin wickedly to myself as I thank goodness itself that mind reading isn’t a typical human trait. I’m safe within the confines of my own head. But I don’t want to be in my own head, I want to get inside yours.

                    I breathe a sigh of relief on day nine, when you show up again, wearing a cream sweater, your cheeks tinted pink with the cold. You pay for your drink and I pretend to busy myself as you head over to your regular table.

                    Except you don’t sit at your usual table today.

                    You sit at the table next to me, which unnerves me. I’m not a big fan of change, and I wonder what has prompted this reckless decision on your part. There’s a smile tugging at the corner of your mouth and I realise the reason for it is because I’m blatantly staring at you. I’m distracted, today, and you’re to blame. Your eyes flit upwards and they lock onto mine. I swallow a large gulp of coffee to try and diffuse the awkwardness, merely succeeding in burning my mouth.

                    “Good book?” I manage to ask, but my voice sounds like sandpaper. Raspy.

                    “I don’t know if I like it yet,” your voice lilts suggestively.

                    “Touché. Well don’t let me disturb you,” I wave my hands for you to continue before I realise I look like a ginormous prat.

                    “No,” you smile, and pat the sofa next to you. I struggle to keep my eyebrows from shooting up my forehead. “Please, join me.”

                    “What’s your name?” I ask, pretending not to have seen the composition book that sticks out of her bag at present, which she jots notes in from time to time. If I tell her I know she’s called Emma Thomas, I’ll probably freak her out.

                    “Allie Saunders,” she smiles, holding out a hand, and I try to keep a straight face. So she doesn’t want to tell me her real name? Fine, I think, two can play at this game.

                    “Nice to meet you Allie. I’m Joshua, Joshua Clarke.”

                    “You know any normal girl would be quite creeped out,” she smirks before continuing, “If you’re going to stare at a girl for a whole week you can at least introduce yourself, you know, Joshua,” she rolls the word around, as if she’s trying it out. Sampling it. Call me paranoid, but I get the feeling that she thinks it doesn’t quite fit – that there’s something not quite right about it. I’m bemused, she’s feistier than I imagined. The bookish sort always are – and I suspect my presumption of “dogmatic” is correct.

                    “I guess I’m just shy,” I give her, and she seems dissatisfied with my excuse, shaking her head.

                    “You’re not shy.” Her tone is matter of fact, and I feel like I ought to believe her. “If you were shy you wouldn’t sit in the front of a coffee shop, by the window where everyone walking past can see you.”

                     I don’t say anything, and she looks at me intently, as if she’s trying to read me like she does the pages of her books.

                    “You brood too much.”

                    “I’m sorry?” I’m still struggling to come to terms with just how forward this girl is, and I’m intrigued as to why she wants me to call her Allie. I mean, who writes a name that isn’t theirs on a notebook?

                    “You heard me,” she repeats, and she’s stuffing her book into her back, and tossing back the dregs of her drink before I can figure out what she’s trying to say. “Can we not do the whole coffee shop bonding thing?” she asks, rolling her eyes, “The cliché of it all makes me itch.”

                    “Well then how else am I meant to get to know you?” I can hear the words come out my mouth, but my thoughts are struggling to keep up.

                    “I’m meeting friends in ten; you can come with me if you want.”

                    “So what, you just invite random strangers who stare at you in coffee shops to come and meet your friends?”

                    “Something like that,” she grins, slinging her jacket over her shoulder. “So, you in?”

                    My pocket vibrates, and I fumble awkwardly for my phone. My inbox contains one new message – from my mother, currently holidaying in the Seychelles with my father, no kids allowed. What on earth possess someone to go on trip to paradise with someone they’ve woken up next to almost every day for the past fifty years; I suspect I will never know. I ignore it. I might as well do something reckless for once.

                    “Sure,” I shrug. “Why not?”

The End

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