“I’m about as good with horses as I am computers,” I admitted truthfully. My ex-wife had a thing for horses, and I’d ridden a few times with her, but never did end up getting back up in the saddle after falling off. Just one of my many failures, according to her.
Leigh, obviously not attuned to my inner self-deprecating humor, shook her head and turned to go back to the counter. She did give me a second glance, though, before disappearing entirely behind the massive glass jars of coffee beans that lined the counters. I expected to hear the same hushed buzz of conversation between her and her coworkers from before, but the room was quiet. I let out a noncommittal noise and turned back to my coffee and the demanding mistress that was my blank page.
The rest of that first meeting was decidedly average. I stayed for the better part of five hours, managing to get a few pages out before calling it quits. I know, it doesn’t sound like much, but it was a small victory for me given my recent lack of activity. In that time, Leigh brought me a few refills, though our exchanges were limited. I’d actually gotten into the flow of things, and don’t hear much once I’m zoned out. Besides, the morning rush demanded her excellent cashiering skills and sunny disposition. Once her shift ended, Leigh was replaced by some gawky boy who looked like he was barely in high school, though he brought me my drink and my lunch without incident, so I had nothing to complain about. Well, aside from feeling old, but that wasn’t his fault.
I went home when I couldn’t bludgeon anything more out of my brain and stripped to my boxers, debating for a moment on whether or not to shower. I still hadn’t eaten dinner, but found that I wasn’t especially hungry. My mind was too busy to focus on such mundane necessities as food. The feather-light brush of fur against my ankles and insistent mewling told me my cat, however, needed a meal. The grey beast my young son had named Spike usually ignored me unless his dish was empty, and sure enough, there were only a few crumbs in his bowl. “I need to get you one of those self-feeding things,” I muttered, doling out Spike’s next portion of kibble. He nudged my hand out of the way in his enthusiasm to stuff his face, and I shook my head, putting the bag of food back in the cupboard next to the sink.
“You’ll get fat that way,” I added as I walked back to my room, eyeballing my own gut. My apartment wasn’t grand in any sense of the word, though the one bedroom was fairly sizeable at least. I’d managed to wall mount a TV in there, and I turned it on before flopping unceremoniously into bed. One of those crime shows was on, the kind where they somehow manage to solve an extremely complicated murder over the course of a few days. Totally realistic. I wasn’t paying it much attention though: my thoughts kept drifting back toward Leigh. Not in any lecherous way, get your head out of the gutter. I’m a writer. It’s literally my job to think about people and life and make a sort of record about it. Leigh hadn’t said much, but she didn’t really need to: I had a feeling there was more behind her appearance and personality than typical teenaged angst and rebellion. It intrigued me.
Digging out one of the many notebooks that littered my apartment, I made a quick note:
- Girl (20’s?)
- Still/deep waters type
I wanted to encapsulate as much of that first impression as possible in my own shorthand, should I want to transform that into a character for later. My daily interactions with people were frequently spent like that, trying to wriggle out little bits of their essence for my own literary purposes. It was probably why I could count my friends on one hand.