The next day I have off, but I work that night, so I go to the café in the early afternoon. There he is again, in the same spot as he was last time. I ignore several people who I know have watched me come in and order an iced tea. I take a seat where I have a clear enough view of him and proceed to take in all of the details. Again no one approaches him. I can tell this time it is more than just its placement, more than the arrangement of things around him. Something within him seems to say “Do not approach”, and most people are willing to listen. I change my posture; subtly shift what I’m doing and how I’m seated. Instead of isolated though, more people approach me. A blonde haired, curvy yet athletic woman, on her way to the gym by the lack of sweat asks if I mind some company. “Sorry, I have a girlfriend.” Another well-toned man in suit and tie, younger than I am if I had to guess, asks to sit. “Not interested.” A group of women carrying several shopping bags asks if they can set their stuff near me, their eyes are not focused on the chairs. “I’m saving the seats.”
I realize I’m mimicking it and stop, sit up straight and stare down anyone who thinks they should approach. I relax my face muscles before I start to get frown lines and stare at him. While I’m doing so I can see someone approaching him from my periphery. I stare at the intruding man, somewhat overweight, somewhat hairy, decidedly not worthy, and some corner of my mind envisions him becoming a burning pillar. He does not explode into an inferno though, so I leave my drink, get up, and decide to walk towards the object of my dreams.
He sees both of us. When the unworthy one sees me approaching, he slows down, and turns towards the restroom, his face reddening and his gaze on the floor tiles. I smile and also slow my approach, savoring the moment and the thought of having him, of him being mine. He does not meet my eyes, but does not look away from me.
As I approach his hands slowly lower towards his lap, taking the screen of a phone with them. A small frown appears. I’m upset at whatever it was that caused that frown; I want to hurt the cause of it. He’s already mine, now I just need to make sure everyone knows this. His arms cross over his chest, resting snugly against ribs. He looks down, tilting his head towards the phone, and looks back up me from under the ridge of its brows. For the first time in a while I can feel the adrenal pulse of primal instinct; I push through it, still approaching. Finally I get to the table he is seated at.
He doesn’t respond.
“Do you mind if I sit.” I sit down without waiting for an affirmative. He scoffs, tilts his head down and to the right as it looks left, picks up its drink and takes a sip, looking at me.
“I haven’t seen you around here and I thought you might want some company.”
“From the best looking man here who has a girlfriend? No thank you.” He looks back down to his phone.
I lean back in the chair, back straight. I can’t think of what to say and that fact makes my hands start sweating. I cross my ankle onto my knee and my eyes narrow.
“Look, I was just trying to be friendly, no need to be rude.”
“Ha-ha!” Two short sounds, one low, then high, and I cross my arms over my chest. “Hypocrite. What about the other people who were ‘just trying to be friendly’?” He meets my eyes and holds my gaze and I feel blood pumping to my cheeks. He is not quiet. I’m not willing to look away; I have to keep his gaze. “Well?”
“I didn’t want to be friendly with them.”
“So what makes me special, peacock?” My brows come together and I don’t worry about frown lines this time.
“What did you call me?”
“Peacock. Like the bird. Or a man who flaunts his beauty and expects to get everything he wants.” He has not broken my gaze, and as he talks he puts his arms on the table and leans over them, closer towards me. His voice does not lower and I feel myself slumping against the chair. “Let me be clear. I’m not interested in your friendliness because it isn’t genuine. You want something, and I don’t want to give it.”
“Fine.” The word is clipped, and we rise at the same time. I have to turn around to go to my seat but that would mean breaking eye contact. My hands clench at my sides and I realize they’re shaking. He approaches, close now, well within my space after rejecting my invitation. My nostrils flare and my breathing gets shallow.
“You’re in my way. Move.”
I finally break eye contact and turn so he can get past. After he does I follow after him, and several other patrons get up, I keep my eyes down, head back to my stuff, and grab them. By the time I get to the street, he is nowhere to be found. I make it to the nearest alley way before I slump against the wall.