There’s a girl in Dome, a-sitting and a-writing in the corner, sharp as a tack and watching everything. And so I look up from my laptop and catch her and I know she’s people watching and writing about the two friends next to her, the guy who strikes up a conversation with the barista, the weird regular in the corner who has to keep counting to himself and who likes numbers and needs to know the time.
And she is writing about me. I know that look of feigned disinterest and don’t-mind-me-I’m-in-another-world-minding-my-own-business-here because I have worn it so many times. And she has written pages and pages, trying not to stare at me too obviously, wondering why I am still here hours later and what I am doing in this khaki shirt and jeans, what I am doing on this laptop, how is it that I know the regular and why I stare off into space and then type while looking elsewhere. I wonder what story I have been placed in and whether I am the protagonist or the antagonist.
In her world, am I someone to whom things happen? Or do I make things happen? What explanation does she have for how long I am here in this cafe? What will happen next? Will be it an old or new lover that shows up have coffee with me and if so, I wonder what she thinks I would like in one?
Or perhaps it isn’t romance that runs the A plot in the little world she has woven. Perhaps it’s a bilsdungroman and she has pegged me as younger than I am, studying perhaps, trying hard to keep up, so much so, that I must spend my weekend on a computer in a cafe. Maybe I am terrified of failing. Maybe something will happen to me and I will triumph beyond all odds and become that little bit more adult… I have decided that I do not like bilsdungromans.
Maybe I am just that little bit odd enough, not quite fitting in really so she has decided that maybe I am a spy. And lest you think my imagination has run away with me here – she started at the start of her notebook, a big fat one and is now nearly at the end, pages turning over. And did I not mention the staring? And also a cell phone picture taken? Perhaps she has me down for the geeky sidekick and at any moment she has drafted an agent into being who will turn up and not quite talk to me but somehow information will pass. Perhaps he is the barista bringing me a drink, perhaps that regular who asked a girl for the time but then I jumped in and answered – perhaps he didn’t know who he had to meet.
A writer she be, commandeering the corner, curling her legs up under her, blinking at me when I do the same because something in her recognises something familiar in me but she cannot put her finger on it and so she stares, trying to puzzle me out. Or perhaps she does know and what she is writing is this:
“There’s a girl in the corner, typing away, clocking, noting people as they pass, both engrossed in what she does, staring blankly at the ceiling, yet aware of what is happening – she told him the time – and then she glances at me and it’s an odd look. Asking me what I am doing scribbling away and I want to say ‘I am a writer’ just like you…”