Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Strangers at a table


"Can I use your outlet?" he asks, holding a laptop charger plug in his hand and eyebrows inquisitively raised.

She nods after lifting her eyes from the work on her screen.

He sits opposite her and starts to type. Every once in a while he humphs or sighs annoyingly or grunts sarcastically. He has an irate demeanor about him, scowling constantly, with a smile like democracy - nonexistent.

He intrigues her. He seems to be gay from his mannerisms, and although she knows she must be generalising, she can't help it. She spies on him every few minutes from behind her screen and from in between her headphones, careful to not appear to.

She orders her diet coke, a few minutes later he signals to the waitress to bring him a cup of a coffee.
He is disturbed by the smoke from her cigarette.
She feels a bit guilty, and tries subtly hard to keep it from floating in his direction.
It worries her unnecessarily. Also something she cannot help.

As she works he becomes more familiar to her, a quiet friend, companion.
I'm not alone, she thinks, as he sits opposite her living his life while she lives hers, completely separate.

And then a few hours later, he gets up. He politely points out that she's plugged her charger into his extension chord and if she could remove it.

"Of course" she says, the only words she's uttered the whole time they were there.

He packs up while organising a plan on the phone he is balancing on his shoulder. He's hurrying, and fumbling, and as soon as the zipper on his laptop bag closes he turns and leaves.

She sees him walk away through the window, his back turned.
And she suddenly misses him, this stranger.
She suddenly feels like she's been dumped by someone who doesn't know her, jilted by someone who she probably would not like. Walked out on by a scowler, and a grunter, and someone who sips his coffee loudly. She suddenly feels a tinge of pain, albeit briefly.

She looks at the empty seat in front of her, and in the crowd of the cafe, she feels terribly alone.

2 comments:

marooned84 said...

I totally relate to that.. one of the reasons I don't like to sit alone in cafes.. at home, behind the closed door of one's room, one feels safe from loneliness, as if it's his choice to be alone. It's really hard to be alone and lonely in a public place..

JoannaD said...

:)
Did you ever see him again?

I hate people who smoke in public(no offense :D). Don't y'all care that you're bothering people with the stink disgusting smell of your cigarette? (really no offense lol)

Well, that was random.. anyway yeah it's interesting when people come and sit next to you in cafes.. were you at younes? people do that all the time there lol..