She gave me a flip of the hair, and I shot back a raised eyebrow. I think. I managed to raise it at first, but then it started to twitch, and I closed my eyes tight twice. Call it a tic. That's what I was hoping she would do, but she took an emotional step back. You could see it. Her whole frame changed, got real rigid. I took my coffee cup and found a table outside, but I didn't feel good about the whole thing. It left a bad taste in my mouth. Worse than coffee, even.
I devoted too much time to thinking about it. I'll admit that. The coffee didn't help my burgeoning paranoia one bit.
I do this all the time. Something stupid happens, and my brain can't let it go. I mentally slapped myself. It wasn't like she was still obsessing about it, but...I was, maybe she was broken like me?
I took a notebook and a pen out of my backpack, stared at them for a few minutes, but didn't write anything. I reached for my pack of cigarettes before I remembered I'd quit. I thought that muscle memory had died, but I guess not. I flicked errant crumbs off the table and watched the sparrows squabble.
I do this a lot, too. Watch birds, that is. Maybe it's a hobby. Maybe it's another obsession. Good thing is that birds don't care if you get nervous and your eyelids twitch. They're busy with their own shit, flapping around and eating. Shitting on things. Making noises that must mean something to another bird.
The fog was starting to roll in, and I was getting that panicky feeling which means it's time to start drinking for the night. I'm not an alcoholic - I only drink in the evenings. I may white-knuckle it through the day to get there, but I'm not one of those sad fucks doing a shot before they can tie their shoes - my old man was like that. He died in a southern prison. I live in the prison of my mind. In some ways, the apple always falls close to the tree. I was determined not to get chopped down, though. Why? I don't know why. Call it inertia.
I had made up my mind I was going to talk to her. Ask her if I could buy her a drink at the end of her shift. I had the whole thing scripted in my mind. I was just about to stand up when I saw her hustle out with her bag over her shoulder. I checked my watch. Five.
She was gone, true, but it was drinking time, and I knew the liquor would explain the whole situation to me in a much more palatable way. It's good at that. It spins things around for me.
By the time the bottle was half-empty, I was a hero. And I knew I would live to fight another day.