“Is someone sitting here?” There’s a tap on my shoulder, and I look up from my computer screen at the person who interrupted my writing. He’s pointing to the seat next to me, eyebrows raised, waiting for my answer.
I shake my head silently, not even bothering to remove my headphones. He doesn’t need to know that I’m not actually listening to anything.
He pulls out a notebook and starts to write, glancing around at the other coffee-shop goers every few minutes. His eyes land on my screen a few times, so I turn the brightness and down and angle it slightly away from him. He notices.
“You writing about me on there?” he asks with a sly grin. Out of the corner of my eye I see his teeth are perfect. His parents definitely splurged on braces.
“What?” I ask, pretending not to have heard him while I shift my headphones from my ear.
“You moved your screen away from me, so I asked if you were writing about me.” His unfaltering grin annoys me.
“No.” I put my headphones back in place.
He raises his eyebrows and presses his lips together. “Oookay… just trying to make conversation.”
I look at him. Then I look back to my computer, then back at him. “What about this set up makes you think I want to talk.” It’s a statement; no answer is sought. I turn back to my screen.
“None of it, BUT–” he slams his notebook shut for emphasis. “You seem like the kind of person who doesn’t like human interaction.”
I side-eye him. Why is he still talking? I should just leave. My book can wait. He totally ruined the flow I had going anyway.
He tilts his head, again waiting for an answer. I remain silent.
“Just as I suspected,” His annoying grin is back.
“Do you do this to everybody you sit next to?” I ask, pulling my headphones down around my neck.
“Only the ones that seem starved for human contact.”
“I am not starved for human anything! You don’t even know me!”
“Hi, I’m Dan,” he sticks out his hand, still smiling.
I look up at the ceiling, blink, take a deep breath and look back at him. “Nice to meet you, Dan, I’m leaving.” I gather all my stuff in one arm and stuff it in my bag as I make my way to the door.
He picks up his notebook and runs to open the door for me. I stop struggling with my bag.
“Can you just quit?”
“Why won’t you give me a shot?” The shadow of his grin lingers.
“Because you have no boundaries!”
“Ah, I am determined to figure you out.”
“I’m not a puzzle.”
“Well, you seem puzzling.”
“I’m not your puzzle.”
“But you could be.” The shadow grin is gone. His voice isn’t as playful as before, just quiet, like he realized he didn’t mean to say that out loud. “Just let me take you out. Just once?” his voice rises a bit again.
I think for a long ten seconds. Well, I told my mom I’d be more adventurous. I sighed.
He breaks into a wide smile. Dumb, perfect teeth.
He holds his notebook out while I write my number down.
To be continued…