the Naming of Lily Christianson

I want to say Hello back. I want to say her name in surprise. I want to say so many things, but I’m struck dumb.

Rather, I simply turn, an awkward smile plastered on my face.

As I look upon her, it’s as if I’m seeing her for the first time. Dark hair tied back, with a few stray strands framing the gentle curves of her face, the dark, deep pools that are her brown eyes. Her smile lights her face up, with a flush of red in her cheeks.

My own smile remains fixed as I realize this isn’t the woman I had expected: this isn’t Lily Christianson standing before me.

“Hey,” I manage after some silent seconds.

Her blush deepens. “Sorry to bother, but, is there anyone sitting here?” She indicates the stool next to mine with a wave of her hand.

“No,” I reply. “Feel free.”

“Thanks,” she whispers, before dropping her bag on the counter. She turns and leaves, taking my gaze with her. She joins the line-up at the counter, the café being rather busy still. She appears to shift nervously under my constant glances, so I return my attention to the laptop screen.

My fingers hang poised over the keys, but they don’t descend. Instead, I drop them to the counter-top, my inspirations gone.

The woman returns with a white ceramic mug in hand, which she places gingerly on the counter beside her bag, a gentle thump accompanying it.

Gone, or made unfamiliar?

I glance over again and see her pulling a novel from her bag, a well-read book with yellowed pages and cat-eared corners.

For once I swallow my timidity.

“What’s that you’re reading?”

She looks up as she turns, a look of surprise on her face. It quickly melts to one of embarrassment, a smile blossoming between rosy cheeks.

“Oh, just a sappy romance,” she laughs.

Her laugh is unlike Lily Christianson’s: more of an excited sigh than a chiming bell.

I smile back. “What makes it sappy?”

She takes a moment to think, her eyes arcing to the ceiling. “Oh, you know,” she starts, bringing her gaze back down to be level with my own. “Flat characters, predictable storyline.”

“Over-use of a thesaurus?” I add with a short laugh.

“Exactly!”

She smiles, and takes a sip of her drink. I lift my own and take in a few mouthfuls, savouring the bitter-sweetness of the warm beverage. When I look up again, she has her attention focused on the sappy novel, probably reading it for the thousandth time. I look over at what I have written, and wonder who will be reading it in a decade’s time.

“Why do you read it, then?” I ask.

She looks up, but merely stifles a giggle.

“I mean, you said it was a sappy book. And I assume you’ve read it many times already. So why read it again?”

Her answer required no thought, but came almost immediately after I had finished by questioning. “Because I like knowing more than the characters. I like knowing that, despite everything that they do, their ending will never change.”

I simply nod.

“Why do you ask?”

“Because I’m a writer,” I say succinctly. “And I’m writing a romance right now, actually.”

“Really?” Her eyes widen with the word, the book in her hands closing slowly.

“Yah,” I laugh.

“Maybe I’ve read something of yours?”

“Maybe an editorial, but I don’t have a novel out. Not yet, at least.”

“Huh.” She steals a glance at my laptop before looking back at me, a smile on her face.

“Is that it?”

I give her a confused look before realizing she’s asking about my novel.

“Oh, yah,” I reply. “Everything I’ve got is on there.”

“Would you let me read it sometime?”

I smile. “Of course.”

She returns the gesture. “Does it have a title yet?”

“No, but…” my words trail off as I lose myself in thought. I hadn’t considered a title until now. I had imagined that I’d draw one from thin air when the book was finished. To be put on the spot like this, though…

“Lily Christianson,” I say. “I’m probably going to name it Lily Christianson.”

The End

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