bills, books, and blue eyes by phoenix.writing

4 Apr

Her laughter broke the silence, and Jon flexed his fingers on his keyboard and reminded himself that it was good that there were people in the world who were happy and who expressed themselves through laughter.  It—

Her voice now, acutely loud.

“And you told him that was why the phone bill was unpaid?”

There was a moment of silence and then an explosion of laughter again—the fourth such occurrence in the last five or so minutes—and the essay that Jon was trying to write was lost to a mash of letters that almost began to express how he was currently feeling.

The conversation had been going on for at least forty minutes now, he was sure of it, and while it had begun quietly enough that it could almost be ignored, it had been getting progressively louder so that whole stretches of the conversation could be heard word-for-word.

Jon hid out on the sixth floor expressly because few people came all the way up here unless they had actual work to do.  That this loud-voiced female had somehow stumbled upon his sanctuary was offensive, and the laughter was simply the last straw.

He lost the battle with that small part of him that had been preaching happiness and tolerance for all, jumped to his feet, and stormed around the corner.

“It may have escaped your notice,” he hissed, “but this is a library.  Silence is golden, and nobody gives a flying fucking about an unpaid phone bill, though we could make the obvious observations that if the person on the other end of the phone talks with anything like the frequency that you do, it’s no wonder she can’t pay.  Please do us all a favour and go find somewhere else to be unbelievably annoying.”

He didn’t wait to see if there was a response, just whirled back around and marched back to the cubicle where he’d been trying to work.

He’d half expected that he was going to be chewed out at a volume even more elevated than the one she had been using on the phone, but it seemed that he had successfully shocked her because there was no more sound coming from round the corner, and Jon was able to push the entire ordeal out of his mind and get back to work.

A week later, everything had settled.  Jon had finished one paper and started the next, and his sanctuary remained unviolated.

They were getting closer to midterms, so the volume of people had started to pick up, but none of them were as obtrusive as she had been.  He was reasonably certain that most people still hadn’t realized that there were actually six floors to the library, and that was a godsend at times like this.

He thought nothing about going to grab another book, and when he couldn’t find it immediately, he spent ten minutes searching for it and swearing about inconsiderate students before he finally gave it up as lost.

He returned to his little cubicle in a foul mood. It took a minute for what he was seeing to actually register. His space had been invaded a week ago by the loud-mouthed girl. He had noticed the increased traffic in the library in general.  He had still thought that it was going to be business as usual overall, and it had not occurred to him to be more careful than he usually was.

The fact that he occasionally left his laptop unattended had never seemed quite as stupid as it did in this moment, but he had made it through almost two and a half years without it causing a problem, and he had just thought…. He had thought that it couldn’t happen to him, and clearly, he had been mistaken.

Fuck. His laptop, and on top of how completely that sucked, there went the  essay that he’d had half written before he had decided that he needed another source and had naively trusted the library website that had told him that the book was currently in the stacks and easy to locate.

What the hell was he supposed to do now?  He knew full well that he was going to be read the riot act for leaving the laptop if he called campus security, and the chances of their being able to recover it were slim enough that he didn’t think he needed to suffer the ignominy.

As he got right up to the desk, he realized that it wasn’t just the books that were still there.

There was also a folded piece of paper which read: 4pm, coffee shop.

This was just getting weirder and weirder.  But it was almost 4pm, and Jon didn’t exactly have anything better to do since restarting his essay or buying a new laptop didn’t appeal.

Assuming that “coffee shop” designated the most popular one on campus, Jon packed away the books and headed over.

He had no idea what to expect, but it was easy to see who he was supposed to be meeting because a quick scan of the interior revealed a student sitting in front of Jon’s laptop.

Jon stormed over.

“That’s mine,” he said without preamble.

The dark-haired man gestured at the empty chair at the table, blue eyes wry.  “And yet, the way you wander off, anyone would think you don’t want it.  Take a seat.”

Not knowing what else to do, Jon sat.  The man pushed the laptop towards him, and Jon, rather bemused, took it.

“Sophie has a theory.”

“Who the hell is Sophie?”  Jon wondered why he was even asking instead of just leaving.

“She thinks that anyone who could chew her out like you did without hesitation even once you’d seen her would be better served by meeting me. She thinks we meet everyone backwards.”  He flashed Jon a grin.

Jon was confused enough it took him a minute to put that together.

“She was being very rude, and what she looks like has nothing to do with it.”

“Most people who are interested in the female sex would disagree.  She’s quite beautiful, you know.”

“But I don’t care what she looks like,” Jon said impatiently.  “I cared about the fact that she wouldn’t shut up.  Are you saying you stole my laptop in order to hook up with me?”

“I did tell her that the library was not the best location for that sort of conversation.  And I didn’t steal your laptop, I made sure no one else did.  You were gone for rather a long time.”

“You could easily have kept an eye on it in the library, not dragged me over here.”  Not very gracious, but he wasn’t feeling particularly charitable.

“I happen to like coffee,” the other man said mildly.  “And I appear to owe you an apology.  It’s my phone bill that you were objecting to, and the actual line, in case you were wondering, was that it was left unpaid because I had so much fun calling in and having phone sex with the customer service people.”

Jon’s lips tipped up in spite of himself.  Somehow, he could definitely imagine the other man saying exactly that to a random stranger.

“And how did that work for you?”

Those blue eyes were full of mischief.  “I’ve never had any complaints.”

Jon had really not been looking for anything other than books when he had taken up that particular location in the library, but it seemed that he had found something unexpected.

“I think you were about to buy me a coffee for all the trouble you put me through.”

The other man smiled triumphantly and rose to his feet.

“One coffee coming right up.”

Unexpected, but not entirely unwelcome.  The essay, Jon decided, could wait for a little while.


9 Responses to “bills, books, and blue eyes by phoenix.writing”

  1. jadamthwaite April 5, 2010 at 10:38 am #

    I really enjoyed this story and I really want to know how Jon and the man get on.The other man is so intriguing – I’d really like to meet him again! And I especially like the dialogue in this – it flows really easily.

    • phoenix.writing September 19, 2010 at 6:04 pm #

      I’m glad that you enjoyed it and found that it flowed. This was not at all how I expected the story to go when I first started writing it, but it turns out that Mike was quite insistent. 😉

  2. ingridfnl April 5, 2010 at 8:57 pm #

    Fun! 🙂 I like the changes in Jon’s emotion through the scene… and all of the little references to unmet people who leave me wanting more. Great story.

    • phoenix.writing September 19, 2010 at 6:06 pm #

      Memories of years of writing essays in uni left me certain that he could think exactly like this. 😉 I’m glad it intrigued you.

  3. jmforceton April 6, 2010 at 1:41 pm #

    Very creative piece of writing. Interesting reading.

    “She thinks that anyone who could chew her out like you did without hesitation even once you’d seen her would be better served by meeting me. She thinks we meet everyone backwards.” He flashed Jon a grin.


    • phoenix.writing September 19, 2010 at 6:06 pm #

      Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂


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