him & her by parenthesized

31 Jan


That guy.  The one over there in the red shirt.  He’s been in here every day this week.  He comes in just after two and sits two tables from me.  Today, he’s leaning back in his wooden chair, a pen between his teeth, as he reads from a textbook lying on the table.   His wire-frame glasses are crookedly perched on his nose, but it suits his half-raised eyebrow and the almost-smile that appears when the pen leaves his mouth.

I don’t stare at him.  I promise.  It’s just that sometimes I look up from my notes, and he’s right there so what am I supposed to do?  Besides, he’s been sitting directly across from me for a week.  You start to notice things even when you’re barely paying attention.  For example, I’m sure he’s noticed that I have brown hair or that right now I am wearing a bright green shirt.  If I noticed him, he’s noticed me, right?


Her hair is pulled up today except for a few strands of brown spilling over the hand splayed against her head.  I want to tuck them back in for her, but I don’t even know her name.  All we ever do is sit near each other in the coffee shop.  She always seems so focused on her notes that I wonder if she has ever even seen me.

I almost talked to her once.  Two days ago.  I was throwing away my cup.  I thought about asking to throw away hers, but she barely moved when I walked by, so I didn’t.  She started smiling at something, but she looks nervous.  I wonder why?


His hands are pressed against the back of his head.  His arms make triangles in the air that frame the stacks of coffee and plastic thermos behind him.  I can pretend I’m looking at those instead of the way the sleeves of his shirt are wrinkled and sliding slowly down his arm.  I’m very good at lying to the imaginary people in my head, you know.  I am definitely not staring.


She’s staring at something; I don’t know what.  I’m decided though.  I have a class soon and it’s now or never.  Well, now or tomorrow or the day after that or maybe even next week.  Actually, better wait until after that midterm.


I can talk to her.  She’s just a pretty girl in a coffee shop.  I stand up, and I’m a little too jittery.  I bump into at least two people as I walk toward her.   Some guy drops his pen and mutters a curse at me.   I think I spilled his coffee all over his red shirt.  Oops.

I tap her on the shoulder.  “Hey, can I buy you a cup of coffee?  I’m John, by the way.”


7 Responses to “him & her by parenthesized”

  1. ingridfnl January 31, 2010 at 9:28 pm #

    I really like how you have looked at the same scenario from his and her perspective… their assumptions about each other and attempt to read one another.

  2. thatgrrl January 31, 2010 at 11:23 pm #

    I like that you had another guy in a red shirt, like it was school colours. Sort of giving John that much more reason to make his move today when there are other guys in red shirts around, he isn’t the only one who might be noticing a pretty girl.

  3. jadamthwaite February 1, 2010 at 5:41 pm #

    Oh, I wasn’t expecting that! I think I have interpreted it different to others – to me it seemed that John is not the same guy who is wearing the red shirt, the one who the girl is watching. I really liked the subtle twist here and the sadness that came with it… and I especially like this idea combined with the two different points of view.

    • Parenthesized February 7, 2010 at 7:48 pm #

      I actually wanted to leave that up to interpretation. Thank you!

      • jadamthwaite February 7, 2010 at 7:58 pm #

        You did it well! I like the fact that we have interpreted it differently… and that you’re not going to give us the answer!

  4. phoenix.writing February 21, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

    It’s fun to imagine that they were both staring at one another as well as that she was staring at someone else and John suddenly popped in, caused a bit of destruction, and hit on her. Not sure which I prefer, actually, so I’m glad you left it up to interpretation. ^_^


  1. Repeat « the character project - April 5, 2010

    […] Link to related stories: Clarity and Him & Her […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: