Zag addresses us as he stands, pulling cash from his pocket and squinting down at it. He wears black as always. A cigarette dangles casually from his lips.
"Here," Chloe says, handing Zag some wadded-up bills. "Will you get me one of those pumpkin muffins with chocolate chips?" She settles back down in her chair. "You're the best," she says, smiling cheekily as she drags on her cigarette. Zag disappears inside Java Script.
I don't smoke; this puts me in the minority around here. The average smoker used to smoke about three packs a day, according to my own personal survey. They seem to have collectively cut down to one a day in the past year, however. I'm not sure if this is due to the rising cost of cigarettes and gas, or just cigarettes, or if people just feel like they suddenly can't breathe as well.
I see him approaching. Leo. My infatuation, crush, whatever, wearing a white T-shirt, jeans, and the engineer hat. He's tall, maybe six three or taller with an angular build. Light brown hair which is probably considered red by some and which grows into a natural pompadour. Some facial hair, but not full-on. Blue eyes. And chest hair I can always see peeking out from the neck of his shirt.
"What's up, guys," he says, more a statement than a question. He tears open a pack of cigarettes and pops one in his mouth, tossing the pack on the table.
Zag returns. "Hey, man," he says to Leo, slapping him on the back. Leo lights the cigarette and drags deeply, nodding. Zag sits.
"They don't have any more of your muffin," he says to Chloe, "and I didn't know what other ones you like, so I didn't get you one." He hands over her crumpled money. "Sorry."
"Awww...," she pouts. "That's my favorite." She sighs dramatically, standing. "I guess I'll go in and see what else they have," she singsongs, heading toward the door.
"Hey, wait," Leo says, reaching into his pocket. Chloe stops short, as though she's in a hurry to go inside. "Will you get me just a coffee? Medium," he says, beating her to the question. "Thanks."
"Good thinking," says Zag when Chloe is gone. "There's a long freakin' line in there now, dude."
Leo glances over his shoulder toward the shop. "Damn."
All of the chairs around the table are taken. Leo drags one from another table. Zag and the others make room.
"Hello, Ruby," he says with a grin as he takes his seat. "How are you?"
I nod. "Pretty good, thanks" I answer. "How about you?"
His head bobs, grin in place, shifting his eyes down, then back to mine. "I'm all right."
I watch him unobtrusively ( I hope ) as others engage him in conversation, trying to justify a potential move. First of all, I hardly ever see him alone. Second, he might not be even remotely attracted to me. A whole lotta stuff keeps me from telling this guy I want him. Fear of rejection and all that.
I see also that a relationship is impossible. I'm not relationship material at this time. I have a habit of creating scenerios in my head with people I'm attracted to, then expecting things to happen that way which of course they never do. I'm trying to change patterns for the greater good.
As I mentioned, I don't want to mess up a friendship. However, the primal undercurrent is undeniable to me.
Perhaps we will pass like ships....
"Whacha thinkin' over there, Ruby?" says Zag. "You're awful damn quiet."
I smile automatically and look at his eyes. A lock of blond hair falls forward so only one is visible. Eye, that is. I point to my head.
"I can't explain in seven words or less," I answer. "Sorry."