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Where you shop

27 June, 2012

After mycomments yesterday, today sees a return to fiction.

He took his pot of Green Tea to his preferred table, sat with his back to the rest of the coffee shop, and placed his notepad in front of him. A wide display of muffins at the end of the counter meant that he could not be seen from the till, but the thin band of mirrored tiles around the wall allowed him a perfect view of the other customers. He liked to sit here on a Saturday, take time over his tea, peoplewatch, and jot down anything that caught his attention. Unusual overheard phrases, interesting characters, slivers of half-whispered gossip, anything that may inspire a short story or a poem or – he could dream – a novel, all were carefully written down to be studied and reviewed and pondered later.

And then he saw her come in, quickly scan the tables, and approach the counter. He wondered for a moment whether she was looking for him – they had discussed their appreciation of this small, out of the way coffee shop at work yesterday – but as she took her espresso cup and selected a table, her eyes were down, she was not looking for company. He poured his tea, and sipped at its hot fragrance as he watched her in the mirror. From her bag she drew a small magazine, no, it was a promotional booklet from a department store, and began to flick through it, but he could see that her focus was not on the advertised Christmas gift ideas. She was also peoplewatching.

She made her espresso last half an hour, read and re-read the leaflet, but still never reading it, before standing to leave. She moved her chair with careful and precise movements, avoiding its feet making the smallest sound on the wooden floor. For a moment he considered walking past her, noticing her for the first time, striking up conversation, but as she lifted her eyes from the ground for long enough to skim the room one final time, he could see that she preferred to be alone. Perhaps instead he would follow her, discreetly of course, see which shops she visited. And then maybe namedrop those shops at work on Monday. Just for his own amusement, just to see what would happen. Nothing sinister. Maybe he would pick up a few gift ideas at the same time. He wanted to buy her a Christmas present, just a little something, and if he made a note of what she had shown an interest in, she would appreciate it more, appreciate him more.

He finished his own tea and followed her into the square, through the small artisan market. As she stopped occasionally at stalls selling jewellery, or homemade soaps, or Latin American woollen clothes, he stopped a few stalls away and peered at the goods on offer, watched for clues as to her tastes. She wandered casually to the precinct, went into a menswear shop. His favourite menswear shop, coincidentally. He flicked at a rack of shirts, peering through the swishing fabrics as she browsed the tie selection, handled a few, ran her finger across their material. She moved on to a CD shop, then more clothes shops, a bookseller, a shoe shop, and all the time she kept her gaze low, was oblivious to her shadow.

She reached the end of the street, opened the heavy wooden door to the multi-storey car park. He hurried around the building to the opposite side, opened an alternative door and watched her from behind the rank of cars. But rather than walking directly, she seemed to be looking around her, puzzled. Had she forgotten where she had parked? She reached the stairs, and disappeared as she stepped up them one by one. He darted to the alternative staircase on his side of the car park, skipped up to the next floor, arrived just as she did. She scanned this floor now, spotted her car, walked to the left. She reached her car, but kept walking. Past three more cars to where his was also parked. She stopped and peered into the windscreen at the ticket, read the expiry time, his expected time of departure. She compared this to the time on her watch. She stood and waited. And he realised that the shops she had been visiting where those that they had discussed before, places she knew that he frequented. And he now knew that she had been looking for him.

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From → Writing

4 Comments
  1. TheOthers1 permalink

    Ah, like. He was looking for her and she was looking for him. Now they find each other. Nice. 🙂

  2. Sweetness blended with anticipation and a side of safe adventure. LOVE!!! More please! I want some more!

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