“Another cup of coffee for you?”
He looked up and nodded, offering her a weak smile.
“Thank you,” he said, his eyes on her hand as she poured more liquid into the heavy-duty ceramic cup.
His leg jiggled nervously under the table, making a jingling noise as his pocket full of change jingled along with it.
Sooner, rather than later, he’d be pulling out what few bills he had in his wallet, segmenting out the change to try to cover his order and tip. All he’d had that day were fries and coffee. Refills on coffee were free, thank God.
“Just let me know when you’re ready for your check, ok?”
She gave him a small, professional smile and walked away.
That was his favorite part, oddly enough, watching her walk away. He liked talking to her, although he never seemed to have much to say. He liked it when she smiled at him. But he loved watching her walk away.
Sometimes she reached up, fixing her hair, readjusting her ponytail, or shifting the collar of her shirt around her neck, and her shirt would lift up, just an inch or two, revealing bare skin at her waist.
And, just for a few seconds at a time, he could catch a glimpse of her tattoo. A wild, rambling red rose, scrawled across the skin of her right hip. He’d only managed a quick look, a handful of times, but it was enough for him to take note of the rose, with deep green leaves, blooming across her skin. The green of the leaves, he thought, matched the green of her eyes.
He wondered, when he allowed himself to, just how far those brambles drifted; if she had vines trailing across her body, down her thigh, imagining a neat little vine twined around her ankle.
He would not, had not, allowed himself to ask.
“What does it mean?” he wanted to say. “Why did you get it?”
To ask would have been to acknowledge that he saw it, that beautiful expanse of skin. As a general rule, he didn’t speak to her. Or at least not much. Nothing more than it took to request a check or another cup of coffee.
Still, every other day, every day he could manage, really, he would find himself in a dingy booth, ordering soggy fries and bitter coffee. He’d go there straight after school, sometimes pretending to do homework, sometimes not.
But always, whether or not there was a pen in his hand, hovering uselessly over the notes of some as-yet-unwritten essay, his eyes followed her, watching her as she moved, gracefully, thoughtlessly around the diner.
She smiled at everyone. And he thought how lucky they were, without knowing it, to be on the receiving end of that smile.
Maybe, someday, he’d actually do it – talk to her, using complete sentences and all. Ask her where she came from and how she’d gotten that rose.
But that day was a long way away.
And until then, he would sit at the dingy, cracked booth, sipping his coffee and poking at his cold fries.
And that was fine.
10 minutes / male character – under 18 / tattoo
Writing Prompt Courtesy of: