Lana shows up.
“May I sit here?” she asks. She sits down at my table in Movieing café before I manage to tell her that I’m writing. “I’ll drink a cup of coffee then I’ll leave,” she says and doesn’t stop talking.
Two hours and three cups of coffee later, she is still there, talking.
I put my laptop in its case.
“Leaving already?” she asks innocently.
“I have to write,” I reply.
She seems to regret taking my time. “This will not repeat itself,” she promises.
A couple of weeks later, I see her at Movieing again. “I won’t bother you today,” she announces. Yan, a man in his seventies, is sitting at a table next to mine. She sits at his table first; then she asks him if it’s OK.
“Sure,” he replies. She turns to me and starts to talk.
I put my laptop in its case.
“Don’t leave because of me,” she says. Yan’s friends have just arrived. She turns to them and talks endlessly.
I go to the park to meditate. It’s dark and deserted.
A man is yelling.
Turning around, I spot a couple walking at a small distance from me. The woman walks behind the man; head down, shoulders slumped, saying nothing. Then she sits on a bench. He is standing, facing her, yelling.
I walk towards them. “Hi, my name is Lilac,” I say in a friendly tone, “I just want to make sure you are OK.”
The man stops yelling. I stretch out my hand. He shakes it.
I turn to the woman. “Are you OK?”
“No,” she replies.
“Would you like me to sit here?”
I sit next to her. She holds my hand.
They seem to be in their mid to late twenties. He has soft eyes and a pleasant appearance. But maybe that’s true for serial killers as well. I remind him that men tend to be taller than women and have big voices. And that it can be intimidating. “You scared me when you were yelling.”
“You scared me too,” his girlfriend says.
“I’m sorry,” he says and sounds genuine. “I didn’t realize I was scaring you.”
“Then talk about your feelings instead of yelling. Tell, don’t show.” I’ve never thought I’d get to say the latter to anyone. He seems to like my idea. Then he asks his girlfriend if she is ready to leave. His tone is soft. She stands up.
I turn to her. “You don’t have to leave.”
“I know. But I feel much better now.” She smiles. “Thanks for your help.”
I go back to meditating. When I turn around, I see them leaving the park. Hugging and smiling, they are waving at me.
I try my luck at Movieing again. Lana is gone. I sit at table seven. A published author sits there during the day. It’s a sturdy corner table indoors, which ensures no interactions.
At least that’s what I thought.
Eddie shows up. “I saw you walking in.”
“I didn’t see you.” I say. “Sometimes I have my head in the clouds.”
“All of you is in the clouds.” He grins. “I’ll sit with you for a while.”
He opens his laptop and starts working.
At least he doesn’t talk.
“It’s after midnight,” he says at some point. “Let’s go.”
“I’ll stay a little longer.”
He looks disappointed.
He holds a bag with huge oranges from his parents’ village.
“That looks very heavy,” I say.
I don’t get his response.
Shortly after he leaves, I close my laptop lid. He left a huge orange for me behind it.
When I walk outside, the air is cold and fresh, and I hear loud and cheerful music. Then dozens of skaters dressed in colorful and bright clothes appear out of nowhere. They pass by me, rapidly.
Sometimes I feel like I’m in an Almodovar movie. Or making a guest appearance in a Coen brothers’ flick. Either way, the red carpet has never seemed closer.