“Let me see your list.”

Cafe TableHere is a sneak peek into the pages of my book series, PS. It stars a young dancer who falls in love with a mysterious young man when they meet in college. If only she could figure him out…. [See what else is on Elyse’s list.]

Mood music.


“Let me see your list,” Brendon stated firmly, as though the sound of his voice alone could sway me to do his bidding.

“No.” I flat-out rejected him, then laughed.

“Oh, come on. You know you want to,” he prodded, suddenly sounding like a little boy, which made me feel very young and small myself.

A hint of laughter darted in and out of his eyes just then. It was almost imperceptible. I had a feeling he’d hoped I hadn’t caught it, but instead I found myself staring intensely at him searching his face for a glimpse of it again. He spoke another full sentence, but I was concentrating too hard on the tiny creases at the corners of his mouth to hear it. Instead, I only felt the weight of his voice hanging in the air.

I lost track of time for what must have been several seconds before someone opened the door to the cafe and I finally turned away from him and took my next breath. Brendon had already cleverly resumed his focus on his lunch, but glanced quickly up at me exhibiting a general sense of deep concern. It was an intense look that made me shudder, as if all the emotion he kept purposefully locked behind his blue eyes had escaped ever so slightly and wrapped itself about my shoulders.

Time resumed for both of us and Brendon frowned at me, continuing to plead but changing his tactic, “O.K. Just tell me the first one. What’s the first thing you want your ‘perfect guy’ to be?”

I glanced down into my hands where my list was now crumpled in nervous fists. I wished I’d never even brought up the subject. How was I to tell him that nothing on the list even mattered anymore; that he was the only thing that mattered? “Fine,” I said. “I’ll tell you ONE thing.”

He looked at me expectantly across the small table and bit into his taco without a care in the world, the same world that was suddenly spinning my heart in circles.

I took a deep, labored breath and let it out, “O.K. Number one is: My perfect man will be able to make something out of nothing with his hands. Something beautiful that once was only a vision, but is now real because of him.”

Brendon’s response was an eye roll. “I’m terrible with my hands. Can’t make anything. Totally uncreative.”

I raised an eyebrow at him, “Are you sure?”

“Quite.” He finished off his taco and licked the last taste of hot sauce from the corner of his lips, not paying attention to where my thoughts were going.

“I find that kinda hard to believe.”

He shrugged and leaned back in his chair. “Why?”

“Everybody can make something. I mean… it doesn’t have to be earth-shattering or any–“

“Not me.” Brendon’s energy was beginning to repel the conversation. I should have expected this, but the truth is, every time I saw him, my hope renewed itself blindly.

I frowned slightly, knowing he didn’t want to hear anymore, but continued defensively anyway, “It’s just that… even merely holding someone’s hand… even holding your hand… could have the power to change a life.”

I wasn’t given a chance to imagine what holding Brendon might actually feel like. His hands suddenly dropped into his lap, as though retreating from a fight. He shook his head and stared into my eyes absently.

I frowned again. “You might be surprised.”

“Nope,” he changed course and held both of his palms up before me, actively giving up and making his point at once. “Nothing good will ever come of these. I assure you.” Brendon emphasized the last statement by pressing his hands slightly toward me in the air, as though I would be able to see something about them much more clearly at a new angle. His gaze broke away from mine as his mood immediately shifted into something verging on anger. Or maybe self-hatred. Or maybe just hatred of me.

So I gave up. I let Brendon and the conversation go and filed my list of preferred manly qualities away again — out of sight and harm’s way, where it belonged.

“Thanks for lunch,” Brendon uttered politely, more toward the air around me than to the actual physical representation of me. He stood up quickly from the table and walked cleanly away without so much as a hasty look over his shoulder. Shell-shocked as usual, I scanned the cafeteria for witnesses of this unanticipated turn of events, but the room was empty. That fortuitous fact afforded me the freedom to sigh heavily at my continued ability to offend Brendon in every way possible, and inspire his absence from my life.

He must be halfway across the field by now, I thought without looking out the door to check on his progress. I was already well aware of his habit of making a quick escape from situations that unnerved him. But I was always the one to stay, and so I sat unmoved at our now-quiet table, cleaning up the mess we had just created, and trying to find a way to rise up under the weight of a heavy heart.

(C) 2011.

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