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We’re having another accidental staring contest. They happen mostly at parks or restaurants, when we’re having a sort of private moment in a public place. He looks into my eyes intensely; I mirror this. He doesn’t blink or twitch, seeming like he’s entranced. I almost want to cover myself up, for it feels like he can see every fathom of my soul, all my thoughts and worries, all things unsaid. Then, he smiles just a little and takes my hand, keeping his focus. I smile too, knowing his reasons for staring. After another moment or two, his smooth eyelids flutter, he releases my hand, and goes back to eating his sandwich, all without saying a word.
I look around this old, vintage diner; the red vinyl on the walls, abstract artwork and acoustic instruments hanging everywhere, the green booth I sit in… A few months ago I dreaded working here five days a week. But now, it just looks more amazing every time I come, especially on my days off when I have competitive contests with this boy.
A funny thing happened on the way to Maggie’s Diner. Maggie is my great aunt, the old hippie who founded this place and who refuses to let me call her Aunt Maggie. “I’ll letcha call me auntie when my butt sags below these knobby knees,” she always says.
Anywho, she gave me a job here when I lost my job at the rubber factory. Times sure have been tough. I’ve been busting my tail here for about a year, trying to make ends meet. It was a Tuesday, I believe, when I finally had the last straw. I was exhausted every weekday from screaming toddlers, roughhewn customers who failed to tip me because I didn’t spread the dressing “lightly” enough, and waitresses full of attitude. I was about to walk inside the front doors, ready to turn in my apron and thank Maggie, when he strolled up to me. Tall, sorta thin, with blazing red hair and green eyes. He said his first name, Ran. He told me I looked really nice. I rolled my eyes, shook my head, and reached for the door, but he boldly stepped right in front of me.
I asked him to move as politely as I could, but he only stared. I looked down on myself; no stain on my shirt, nothing. He continued to stare. I asked him what his problem was. He blinked, and smirked.
“You work here?” he finally asked, gesturing at my apron.
“Well, I did, but I’m just about to-“ he cut me off.
“When you’re off the clock, come meet me in the corner booth. I’ll pay.” And he didn’t give me a chance to refuse. He walked in purposefully and took his place in the corner booth.
I decided to work my shift as usual. I admit it: I was extremely attracted and intrigued by him. So I put on my apron and dealt with all the crap waitresses take, then went to meet Ryan. Maggie caught me, but didn’t say anything. She just winked, said, “Go get ‘em” and continued to work, whistling. I shrugged, beaming inside. I sat down across from him. He ordered for both of us, then started at me again.
“I’m dying to know, why?” I pleaded.
He grunted. “You’re just… beautiful. That’s all.” And we proceeded with our conversation about the dim waitress catering to us. And that was that.
And that is still that today, as we sit in the same corner booth every Saturday afternoon. He still orders for me, and somehow it’s always what I want. What’s different is, now I don’t have to ask why, because it’s the same answer every time. I can stare back, too, but he’s still better, since I can never keep my eyes open and stay quiet for so long.
He’s started it again, but this time, I don’t stare at him, or even glance. I just chew on a French fry and blush modestly as I realize another thing that’s different : I’ve fallen in love.