They were but two idiots, waiting for each other on the opposite sides of the cafe’s outdoor seating. She was watching him. He had caught her eye since he first stepped inside the premises. Familiar, could it be…? No, the person in front of her could not be the boy that flashed in her memory. Yet still, there was something in the shape of his face and the glint in his gray eyes that reminded her of him. That was neither here nor there because his face was not what captured her attention the moment he walked up to the patio. It was the constant motion of his hands.
Drumming on the table, or straightening his shirt, running through strands of chestnut hair that would fall in his face just barely brushing the square rims of his glasses. Square, like the cut of his nails. Clean, and apparently clumsy as they trip over each other in a sequence of movement culminating in a water spill across the shirt that he had so carefully straightened about ten times before.
She was amused at his panicked expression and his now furious attempts to dry the wetness from the blue cotton with the paper napkins from the table. It didn’t take long for him to give up on the wet rags in favor of fanning the worn fabric. Only once the water stain was almost unnoticeable did the boy cease with his fevered attempts and lean back with a sigh of relief. It only took the boy another 20 seconds before the drumming started again. With that, the girl decided he was interesting enough for a conversation and pitiful enough to grace him with her presence.
She checked her hair in the reflection of the silver spoon placed in front of her, meticulously moving one strand this way and the other one that way, before deeming herself presentable and gathering the shoulder bag that held all of her worldly possessions. She lifted the sunglasses from her face as she swung herself into the seat across from him with a jangle of her bracelets clinking against the cast-iron table. Her sudden appearance caused the boy to freeze into a statue, one hand still raised, preparing to settle itself on the table in front of him. Grey eyes, framed behind his black rims, widened.
“You prepping for an interview or waiting around for a date?”
The boy was at a loss for words. For a second, this girl reminded the boy of her. The bold manner and the sparkling amusement in her eyes made him question it-- but no. It couldn’t have been. She had dark curls, not the flat, blonde hair of the girl in front of him. She wore glasses like him and had cold blue irises that had reeled him in with masked sorrow hidden behind affection. This girl in front of him had brown eyes. And was looking at him. Crud, she’d asked a question, right. The boy shook the ghost of her from his mind and returned to the present.
The girl’s lips twitched “I said-”
“Oh, sorry. Right. And no? Just waiting for an old friend.” He cringed. What she must think of his manners he didn’t want to know. “Sorry. I heard you but I didn’t hear you and then my brain processed it so I answered and--I’m just gonna stop now.” He grabbed the empty cup of water and tried to drink from it before he realized that all that was left was air.
The girl laughed out loud. It was a startled laugh, as if she was surprised to be so happy, as if she wasn’t used to that kind of exhilarating amusement. And it was so familiar--but no. He wasn’t going to let his thoughts get dragged in that direction again. He sighed once more, resting his head against the table. He took a second deep breath and waited for the girl to quiet down before lifting his face.
“Can we-can we try that again?” He asked with a grimace, “I’m sorry. I promise I’m not usually this flustered.”
“I don’t think most people would be. And even if they were, it’s a special kind of flustered that makes someone drink air. She must be a special friend” She replied, a smile twisting her face into a beautiful memory.
“Ughh you saw that too?” He groaned but now a grin spread across his own countenance. His ridiculous behavior since he was seated became clear to him through the eyes of this observer.
“Of course. I saw your dismal efforts to get rid of that water stain and I realized I had to come over and see if there’s anything I could do to help you relax.” She stuck her nose in the air then and said with an affected British accent, “Some say I am rather talented at that.”
“Do they now?”
“Why, of course, none better at kickin' back in the grand old Floridan peninsula than me and Ponchi.”
“I see.” They were leaning over the table in a conspiratorial huddle, the smiles no longer hesitant. The words she said sunk into his head.
“Did you say Florida?”
At that, she laughed again. The same surprised laugh that pulled itself straight from his heartstring’s memory. “You’re processing skills are rather slow today, aren’t they?”
“Must be the company. It’s not every day you meet a girl like yourself, you know.” The girl acknowledged his point with a solemn nod.
“True, I am one of a kind.” She dramatically flung a hand across her forehead, “It’s such a trial to be the only one able to carry out the important task of living my life.”
He snickered, his nerves long forgotten. The reason for coming faded in their minds and they continued their back and forth conversation; neither had expected to meet such an individual today. The girl’s mind began to spin. It could be him...taller...and with longer hair? Couldn’t it?