You wore feather earrings and worn leather boots. You had an apron in hand, so I can only assume you were going to or from work. I wore a blue hoodie and carried a notepad in my messenger bag.
The moment I saw you I smiled because there was something beyond pretty about you. You looked warm and smart and trustworthy. We made brief eye contact. You saw me smiling at you and your face sort of lit up. Then you looked back at your phone and finished your text message.
I intended to get off on the 12th floor but decided to stay on until you left. We rode that elevator all the way up and all the way down. You stayed. I stayed too. We both pretended not to notice that neither of us had moved. (more…)
They slid into their booth with goofy smiles, careful to avoid further tearing the rips in the red pleather seats. Rudy’s Cafe had been their favorite little food joint since college. It was the highlight of a random road trip James and Alex had gone on and the two friends made the hour-long trip back once or twice a year ever since.
James picked up the laminated menu and began searching for what made his stomach growl the loudest. Alex already knew what he wanted so he scanned the rundown cafe to see if anything had changed since their last visit.
Rudy’s Cafe had opened in 1981 according to the story on the back of the menu and the decor had never quite made it out of the decade. White and black linoleum tiles checkered the floor. Every inch of the walls and ceiling was covered with 1980’s memorabilia or movie posters. A life-size image of “The Fridge” stared at Alex from the door of the men’s restroom. (more…)
Drawn window shades, the husky voice of Ray Lamontagne seeping through the speakers, and hushed conversations gave the coffee shop the feel of dusk even though there were still a few hours left of daylight. Mitch was relaxing in a leather chair searching through Craigslist ads for his next dead end job.
Each time the door swung open he offered a curious glance in that direction, but the sight of the woman walking through the door turned a glance into a lingering stare. It was her. As she approached the counter to order, Mitch’s chest began to ache. The pain swelled until he realized that he was holding his breath. He let the air slowly escape through his nose and closed his eyes.
Two months ago he had been sitting at a table that was currently occupied by a large black man and his son when the soft click of heels on the beige tile pulled him out of the book he was reading. The woman wearing the shoes pulled dark sunglasses off her face and set them atop her black hair. Her skin was the color of Mitch’s coffee with cream and he wondered if it tasted as sweet. He shook the thought away and felt guilty for even thinking it. (more…)
The electronic voice of Paul’s GPS informed him that he had arrived at his destination. He leaned forward to peer through his windshield at the sign that hung above the doors on the red brick building. Large orange letters trimmed in green spelled La Cantina Antelo.
An elderly man in a bright Tommy Bahama shirt began unlocking his car on the far side of the street. Cars covered every meter that Paul could see so he wasted no time pulling around and flipping on his blinker. It only took about three minutes and what looked like a well-practiced fourteen point turn for the man to get his Buick out of the small space. As he slowly rolled away Paul slid his little Honda into the space easily and threw it in park.
He still wasn’t sure why he was here. The invitation was most likely an elaborate way to get him to sit through a time-share presentation, but it didn’t have the same tone as a marketing ploy. He grabbed it off his passenger seat and twisted it until he could read it again in the streetlight.
Your presence is requested at The Other Eight event. This is a private affair so please, no guests. Dinner, dessert, and drinks will all be provided free of charge. Your participation in this event is of the utmost importance.
It looked like a normal letter from the middle school Max would be attending in the fall, but as I read a hollow rattle rolled through the page from the shaking of my hands. I dropped it on table, grabbed my keys and fled. This is my default action in the face of tragedy. I first learned this when I was about Max’s age.
We were driving to a cabin on the Lake of the Ozarks. An army of trees with shades of green that Crayola could never hope to box surrounded the road on both sides. Two yellow dotted lines marked the way to a perfect weekend. Just me, my dad, and a lake full of fish. I stared over the high dashboard looking for the sign that would mark our turnoff. This would begin our game of who can spot the water first.
A flash of movement was all I saw before the impact jerked me forward. My dad told me to stay, but I was so drawn to the front of our station wagon that I barely heard his words.
Tears streamed down his reddened cheeks as he sat holding his knees against his chest as tightly as his little arms could manage.
“I hate being little!”
Andy’s father plopped down next to him and thought about what to say while resisting the urge to rub the wavy locks of blonde hair that seemed to always look perfect no matter how messy his clothes were at the end of the day.
“I think I’m supposed to tell you how great being six years old is, but to be honest I bet it kind of sucks sometimes.”
Andy’s head shot up to look into his father’s before delivering a very serious reprimand.
Her eyes froze me. I had never met someone who could say so much without a single word. Thoughts played like pictures across two small blue screens. The slightest lift of her eyebrow could convey things more clearly than most of my dim-witted friends and it is no wonder. They had willingly traded in the treasure of words for the sake of fitting in. How am I expected to know the true feelings of a person who would rather say “LOL” than share the actual joy of laughter with me?
But it was not what she could say to me that chilled my soul, it was what she could read. I felt naked when her gaze held mine. (more…)