Sunday, August 28, 2011

Falling for a Smile

It is a flaw in writers that we like to eavesdrop. Jocelyn Lindsay can attest to this, since she is the one I tried desperately to ignore, but couldn't help overhearing at the Willamette Writers Conference, with scintillating results. It is now one of my most popular blog posts.

In listening to other's conversations, we can study human behavior, glimpse real-time dialog, log nuances in speech. It is research.

But today something else happened. I fell in love. With a smile.

I'd like to knock some sense into the young girl who is doing her best to ignore him. Her long, dark hair is touching the top of her short, short denim cutoffs, from which her long, tanned legs run into sockless hightops. A computer sits in front of her, silently maintaining an impregnable force field between them.

He's across from her, trying to talk her into joining him in some sort of fund-raising walk/run for charity. He tells her about it, his hands folded under his chin as he sends her a disarming smile over the top of her computer screen. She mumbles something and he leans forward, until his chin is nearly resting on the top of the computer. "Except, I wouldn't outrun you. I'd stop any time you needed to stop." His voice is smooth, like a polished mahogany table top. His dark eyes crinkle, focused on her, and the smile widens.

She runs her fingers over her mousepad, bringing up a set of images on her computer screen. She studies them. "I don't know," she maintains.

He is bewitched, his smile encouraging, indulgent. He shifts in the chair, shuffling his sneakered feet, careful not to cross over to hers, his legs covered in khaki trousers much the same color as the coffee he ignores. His gaze never falters. "You'd be fine. Give yourself a chance."

She mumbles something else, shrugging a shoulder, her fingers punching keys. He is undeterred, his wide smile showing a glimpse of sparkling teeth. "But it isn't a competition. I'd stay with you, beside you," he says.

A blender whirs and the smell of brewing coffee fills the air. She watches her screen and misses his gaze roam over her features, memorizing each one; misses the yearning; misses the delight in glint of his eyes, and the bright smile. There is no pleading in his voice, only a soft, gentle confidence in his straight back, his polite adherence to her undrawn line of demarcation.

She mumbles something else. He tips his head to the side. "You aren't giving yourself a chance. You could do this. No one would make fun of you. I'd be there with you."

She brings up another website, not even glancing up. She clicks the mouse pointer and a photo of football players appears. She shakes her head, hunches a shoulder. People get up from the table behind them, and clatter over the tiled floor to the door.

His gaze remains on her downcast eyes, and, although he still smiles, a sadness plays across his face. He gets up, straightens his navy blue polo shirt, runs a hand through his short brown hair and waits. She stands and he dips his chin. "Call me if you change your mind." She moves her body toward him, stiffly offering herself for a hug without lifting her arms from her sides. He reaches out and his arms surround her in a quick, gentlemanly hug. His eyes darken and he takes a long breath and lets it out slowly.

"Think about it. I'd be glad if you changed your mind."

He turns and ambles out.

I want to follow.

He may be in my next book.


  1. Well I know that some kitties like to sleep on their owners heads, so it only seems befitting they should like to become a focal point of a hat!

  2. Kerry,

    Although this may seem an odd comment for this blog, I know you are referring you my comment that I want the cat hat in the adorable piece of art on your blog. Well worth seeing, if anyone is interested.

  3. And yes, I find myself hoping that she changed her mind after all.

    Lovely story.

  4. CG,

    I think she was oblivious. And very unsure of herself, though if she had just looked up at him, instead of the computer screen, all doubt would have evaporated.

  5. Great blog, Mel. And so true. Writers are definitely voyeurs (which, by the by, I just looked up to make sure I spelled it right. The definition, according to a my dogeared Random House Dictionary, means: a person who obtains sexual gratification by looking at sexual objects. So, please take it in a much broader, more contemporary sense.)

  6. can give him my number. it's 778....

  7. Pam,

    Geeeeeez. Voyeurism is really yucky...someone who perches outside a woman's window to watch her undress. Oh, I see how you came up with it. Because of the blogpost "Willamette Writers Conference and Computer Sex". Okay, so Jocelyn said computer SCIENCE and I thought she said SEX. I'm sure it is a common mistake. Right?

  8. Single,

    I would have totally given him your number...if I hadn't wanted him for myself. For my book, I mean. I want him in my book. That's what I mean. No voyeurism here. Just plain busybody, snoopy eavesdropper.


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