Eva sipped her coffee. It was just cooling to lukewarm. The curls of steam had fallen like limp ribbons and the bitterness was tepid on her tongue. She was still holding the pen in her right hand, clicking the retractable tip in and out, in and out. The two women at the table behind her were animated. Their voices rushed along, clattering together.
“I know, but then at the end –”
“When he did, and then it could all have been, I don’t know –”
“Like a dream or something, the whole thing made up –”
They paused, presumably to sip their drinks. Eva leaned over her notepad and scribbled a few words. Talking, conversations, television, vampires? She scratched at the letters idly, and then noticed her pen wasn’t writing. She’d clicked it without noticing, and she jabbed the button again. Then she looked at the pad, focusing on it. Time to really write something, get a head start on this story, maybe sketch in an outline. Anything, really. The women began to talk again.
“So have you heard from Charlotte?”
“Yeah, actually, she just called me a couple days ago. You know she broke up with, um, what’s his name?”
“No way, really? I thought they were going to stay together forever. She was so crazy about him.”
“Oh well, I guess. She’ll do better next time.”
“That doesn’t help now, though. She must be crushed. Poor thing.”
Eva clicked her pen again and wrote, Breakups. Gossip. Friendship. Two friends discuss the life of a third. Are they concerned? Just gossiping? Do we learn more about the friends or about the subject of their conversation?
That seemed like a good start. It was an interesting idea. She took another sip of her cooling coffee and made a face. She didn’t love it to begin with, but when the heat masked the taste she didn’t mind so much. When it was barely warm she couldn’t fool herself that she was drinking coffee for anything but the caffeine. She stood and walked a few steps to toss her cup into the trash. When she sat back down, she picked up her pen and click-click-clicked. She had to really concentrate.
“Anyway, we should hang out and watch something. Have you been watching anything good lately?”
“A few things. I have ideas. What are you in the mood for?”
“Huh. Well, nothing too sad. Nothing dark, not today. Not romance either. Something funny, or maybe an action sort of thing. How’s that sound?”
“Let me think about it.”
They kept talking, but Eva stopped listening for a moment. She wrote more words. Movies. Escapism. Grief. Pretending.
She would go soon. She wasn’t getting any work done here, not really. Click-click-click. The page looked so empty with just her lists and half-broken sentences down one side of it. Absently, Eva doodled a flower in the corner. That cheered the paper up a little bit. Maybe she could get a little farther with the story once she got home and thought about it some.
The women at the table behind her were talking still. One said, in a lowered voice, “God, that clicking is really annoying. Is that her pen? Maybe we should go.”
“No,” said the other. “I think she’s leaving. Look, she’s getting her stuff. She was here with a notepad. I wonder what she’s writing about?”