Her question looms.
Clare looks exasperated. “You’re really going to make me regret doing this, aren’t you?” Stuttering, hemming-and-hawing, John — clearly even more off guard than usual — reacts in what is now classic “John” fashion. The thinking-on-his-feet-after-putting-them-in-his-mouth.
Which, when I say it out loud, really doesn’t make a lot of sense.
“Well, you see, what I’m trying to say… well… what you’re not letting me tell you… if you think about it….” John is fighting a losing battle and he knows it. He sneaks a glance: Clare’s face is still and inscrutable, just as it has been since they had found their seats.
Come to think of it, women’s faces are generally inscrutable… especially to the men in their lives. Moi? I think she’s going to take pity on him.
“You know, there is really only one question I have to answer…”
They take their seats at the table, across from each other. The barista had been pretty quick about getting their orders ready: always a relief. I would call this café noisy, but the two of them? They appear wrapped in their own little cocoon. A cocoon probably resounding with the clink of coffee spoons hitting cup-edges. Stirring is an art — do it well and the blended taste can really hit the spot. Do it badly… and honestly? Few people can really tell the difference.
Except those who hate the clinking of coffee spoons.
She looks up at him; he remains steadfast in not looking up. He hasn’t taken his eyes off his coffee cup since he sat down. That she already knows what he wants to say is not helping. At all.
“You should just say what’s on your mind, John. Not beat around the bush. Not avoid conversations worth having.”
He looks up, his face a mask of surprise. Our heroine has the air of Sherlock Holmes accurately predicting Watson’s thoughts without the latter saying a word.
He opens his mouth… a long pause.. then, “I was just thinking about what you said when we came in… here.” John says this slowly, still stirring. It’s clear he’s searching for the right words. And in the process, saying nothing at all that is of any relevance. This is what men do when they’re trying to think out loud. A lot of things said: none of them with any real meaning.
“Enigmatic indeed, my dear John. But you should know better… only one of us should talk in conundrums.” She has a small smile playing on the corner of her lips. The one you have when you’re toying with your quarry. When you know what is to come, and are relishing the foreplay.
It strikes me that I should probably clarify that Clare too, is no stalker or serial killer. Or, y’know, something worse.
She sighs. It is partway the sigh of someone expecting more. It is also that exaggerated sigh you let out when you’re trying to drive home a point. Is she really expecting better? Hard to tell. Clare looks at him, and an expression best described as ‘understanding’ flits across her face. She knows why this conversation is taking so long. And why this conversation may never go anywhere, if the man was left to his own devices.
Women hate that.
John pushes the door to the café open, head bowed… almost as though he finds his shoes fascinating.
I can tell you his shoes are not interesting at all.
He is not taking her hints. Of course, he may also be completely clueless that hints are being given. Clare pauses as she is about to enter the café to study him a moment; a semi-smile flicks across her face. She’s thinking back to that day they first met on the street and she threatened him with pepper spray. Something had caught her attention then… and here they were 2 years later. She knew what he wanted to say; she had figured it out when the thought had first come to him.
Is she going to help him out? I wonder…
Clare sighed again. I know that sigh. She’s going to put him out of his misery.
Just a little push.
“It’s never easy to figure out how to ask someone to marry you, is it?”