Look, Observe, Don’t Stare

“You’re staring.”

I dragged my gaze away from the six people jammed together at a small table close to us. “Not really staring.” I said.

But, then I looked back again.

The young man who had just casually slung his arm over the back of the chair next to him, pulled away. His jaw clenched slightly, his lips tightened into a thin line.

I couldn’t say I blamed him for being irritated.

When his arm had rested on the chair, the girl occupying it had literally recoiled in horror. Although, for quite a while before that, she’d been leaning right into him, her eyes had been fixed on his face and a little glazed while he’d talked.

She’d kept touching her hair, and when she wasn’t doing that, her hand had frequently gone to rest on the table beside his cup. She hadn’t, I’d noticed, shied away when he’d picked up his drink twice and his hand had brushed hers. In fact, her hand had edged closer.

A low voice broke my train of thought.

“Staring.”

“Observing.” I said.

I looked away and down at my own cup. I frowned as I stirred some sugar into my coffee. – I don’t like being interrupted.

Fussing with the empty sugar sachet, I tuned in to the song being crooned by the live singer at the cafe. – ‘Lady in Red’ by Chris DeBurgh.

The singer wasn’t completely butchering the song, but he was skimming over some of the lyrics. The keyboard player sort of banged on the instrument’s keys. He also glared at them.

Quite obviously didn’t think much of the song, I told myself.

The singer did a passable job with most songs he chose to sing. I idly wondered if he was secretly crushing on one of the cafe’s regulars. There was a woman I saw there often who wore red a lot. She was usually at a table in clear view of the musicians. Always alone.

He always sang this particular song when she was around.

I pondered the possibility of her being single, or recently jilted.

Or, having a thing for the singer.

I imagined a story set in an overly lit cafe, and playing out through a series of 80’s love songs.

‘Serenade.’ I thought, laughing to myself.

Then, I imagined the keyboardist killing the couple for the years of endless torture they put him through. – He’d go on to kill the cafe’s electrician also, I concluded. But, why he’d do that, I didn’t know.

It would require more thought.

“Are you here?”

My hand was nudged.

“Obviously, I am.”

I  picked up my coffee and took a sip.

I looked towards the counter at the other end of the cafe where my kids were having their milkshakes at the beverage bar. It would be another twenty minutes at least before they were done slurping, and chatting to the servers.

I glanced back towards the table crammed with people. I couldn’t help but do that. There seemed to be a lot waiting to happen there.

The girl was leaning so far forward, her face was almost touching her plate. She looked about ready to bury herself in a half eaten Club Sandwich. – Safe choice, I decided.

Her hand on the table was still near the guy’s cup. Too close. She kept glancing at him.

The guy’s arm was back on the chair. This time just his elbow. But, he’d shifted the other way and was engaged in deep conversation with another girl on his left.

“What is it about that table?” My husband asked.

“Nothing.”

“Bullshit.”

“Nothing. Really.”

“You’re looking for something.”

“I am not.”

“We’ll see.”

I didn’t respond. His eyes had been glued to the TV screen earlier, and I hadn’t bothered him with senseless interrogations.

Besides, It looked like a pretty serious talk going on at the other table. Guy and Girl Two. They looked detached from the rest of the group. Neither was smiling. – I started to look away. Except that…

Their eyes were dancing with mischief.

Or was it my imagination?

Not really, I decided, looking a little closer while trying to appear normal and not staring.

There was something going on there, I noticed. – Girl Two was obviously trying very hard not to laugh. The guy was obviously trying his best to make sure she laughed.

Girl One was no longer leaning into her sandwich that much. She was obviously pissed at the turn of events.

Seriously pissed, I thought, observing her flushed cheeks. I felt a bit of sympathy for her. She’d sort of ruined it with her ‘deer in headlights’ behaviour.

Guy and Girl Two made a cuter couple though, I thought, looking over at them. – More realistic.

Their eyes held longer, they were talking with a good deal of comfort, there was a certain something which kept passing between them. It could have been the inside joke they were sharing. – It could have been something more. I sensed hesitation, but I couldn’t see it. Yet, it was there, it had to be.

“Conflict.” I muttered. “Show me the conflict.”

My husband snickered. “What?”

“Nothing.”

“Did you say ‘Conflict?'”

“I said no such thing. Watch your game.”

He snorted into his coffee. “Liar.”

I ignored him. Such an annoying man.

Girl One cleared her throat and said something to the guy. He didn’t seem to hear her. She waited a few seconds and then said something again. Louder.

He answered, but didn’t turn around.

Girl Two’s eyes darted to Girl One.

Girl One looked furious.

‘Come on!’ I thought.

Girl Two looked back at the guy. He was still looking at her.

Girl One seemed to fade out of the picture.

Girl Two hesitated for a split second. Then glanced at his elbow resting on the chair, and looked away. She looked back at him.

He was still looking at her. She looked away again.

‘Excellent. Now give me resolution, darlings.’ I thought.

The cafe singer began crooning Lionel Richie’s ‘Hello.’

The guy looked down at his coffee cup. He stared at it for a long time.

I got tired of watching him watch his cup. – I remembered I wasn’t alone at my table and started to turn.

But, just then an elbow left the back of a chair.

I smiled.

My husband laughed.

Aaand, she finds what she was looking for.”

I threw the empty sugar sachet at him.

~*~

©Anne J. Dias – 2014

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20 thoughts on “Look, Observe, Don’t Stare

  1. Anne,

    I am going all awwwwww. Mr Awesome and you , are so fabulous. Hayeee, its so endearing. You two are cutest. I might be off-base here, but he is the reference for all your male characters. He is AFR,NK, Des and every other male perfection you ever carved.

    Love and so special. I have no clue , Mr Awesome reads your work and laughs at some of his shades.

    Such love story you have, Anne.

    People watching!! You story-teller.

    I was all for Girl one – naive and “in crush” face. But then Girl 2, demanded my respect. She ignored all the fluttering when she observed the elbow.

    It was about time the young man , sitting on that busy table , found his resolution. I don’t know if he had the choice, but if his last action is an indicator. He seemed wiser.

    “Aaand, she finds what she was looking for.” ——— Indeed, Mr Awesome, she got you!

    This is such a mush way to start my day, love you mostest. Hugssssssss and loads of thank you for sharing two lovely exchanges here.

    P.S. – I really am addicted to this place. Now i don’t even feel like working .

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  2. It’s a glimpse of how a writer crafts a character, isn’t it? Or perhaps a whole story… Everyday situations and voila.. you can be inspired and that ‘clicks’. Also, I can see what most of them say, a writer is first of all a good observer 🙂

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  3. ok firstly as I said before I just LOVED the way u narrate things just AWESOME. … Anne loved the post….. Ur observation is simply awesome. … I really loved the title don’t stare OBSERVE no doubt. Ok abt the girl in red quite interesting so there was an eye romance going on between the singer n herself.
    Now I want to say abt Girl1 I just got reminded of many I have seen. They r true example of “SAAF CHPTAY BHI NAHI SAMNAY ATAY BHI NAHI”
    trying to get the boy but acting all naive n innocent n just giving hints here n there. I really liked Girl2 She was herself and thts what matters. There is nothing bad in being naive n shy neither with being bold and expressive untill u r urself totally. I though felt bad for Girl 1 but I liked the boy’s decision. And u hate interruptions but I loved the interruptions in ur case they always made me smile. Though he doesn’t show that he is paying any attention but I loved how he always has his full attention on u even while watching game lol really. .. BTW I m now much sure tht no matter where I go I will OBSERVE n not stare.
    love n hugs
    muah

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  4. I just loved the voyeur in you glancing around the room and finding a tableu where you knew some action was going to take place. Lol. This piece is written so well and as for characterization, I am with girl 2 all the way and do feel a little sorry for girl 1. Was she naive? Or she just lost out in the competition?

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    1. Also want to pass on my sincere condolences to the much ignored companion who has learned to handle this when he is out with you..now that is a man who is a keeper…lol.

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  5. “Staring.” “Observing.” I said. I looked away and down at my own cup. I frowned as I stirred some sugar into my coffee. – I don’t like being interrupted.
    “Are you here?” My hand was nudged.“Obviously, I am.”
    “What is it about that table?” My husband asked.“Nothing.” “Bullshit.” “Nothing. Really.” “You’re looking for something.” “I am not.” “We’ll see.”
    “Conflict.” I muttered. “Show me the conflict.” My husband snickered. “What?” “Nothing.” “Did you say ‘Conflict?’” “I said no such thing. Watch your game.” He snorted into his coffee. “Liar.” I ignored him. Such an annoying man.

    But, just then an elbow left the back of a chair. I smiled. My husband laughed. “Aaand, she finds what she was looking for.” I threw the empty sugar sachet at him.

    Oh god Anne! I should say this…The respect I feel for your hubby is increasingly each time, when I read about him from your posts. No wonder your male characters are exceptional! I guess your annoying man is the template for all of them…And you’re your curious, ‘observing’ skills which feeds the writer in you– which he calls as staring – was cool! I enjoyed the above conversation than the Guy and Girl1 and girl 2.

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  6. *grins*

    You should definitely come out with my “group” sometime. You’d have the time of your life. I swear, sometimes I sit back and observe, and wonder what others must be getting from watching us. A whole 3 part. Beginning, conflict, resolution. The perfect ending, though, is that lucky man sitting beside you, who gets to tease and observe you 😀

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  7. “Staring” – “observing”!!! I love the chemistry between you both!!!
    The signs of a brilliant writer – “observing” their surroundings and situations, building it into characters and storylines.
    Your posts are very enlightening!!! Love them – thank you for sharing!!

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  8. Anne. How on earth do you observe so much 😳😳. But gotta admit I love the way you narrate. The way you narrate the small gestures, the reactions. But you know what… I’m sort of surprised how come they didn’t catch you staring at them :0
    either they were so into each other that they didn’t notice world around them or that you’re super good at pretending to look at elsewhere and not them.
    You and your husband so cute. I love the way he observes you while you were busy observing others 😉 story outta story :p

    Neaha

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  9. Hi Anne! 🙂
    I so love the date you’ve chosen to post this awesome Observation of yours! Why, it’s my anniversary!😉😍
    Now, you’re such a darling when you narrate such ‘observances’ in a rather cute way than anyone ever could! Okay,exaggeration, I know! Than I ever could? Sounds true to me! 😄
    You don’t like being interrupted? While ‘observing’ others? 😂 You know you might have saved yourself from any likely embarrassment because of the ‘interruptions’, me thinks! Aww, such a doting husband who’s into you more than in his fave game-watching, knowing you in and out and going by your looks(expressions) perhaps, in the end, concludes how you’ve finally found what you were looking for! Adorable best, you two! Touchwood! ☺️
    A super cool narration of the episode you witnessed! Uh-oh : Observed! 😂😂😂

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  10. Wow Anne must admit I love the way you narrate. Gives us a glimpse of how you think. Whether its your stories or just posts I look forward to them.

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  11. Adorable you two are!! (X Masha Allah!
    I stare/ observe too! It’s so fascinating to (sneakily) be part of stories of other ppl than jus your own n obsevvve (X !!
    I want to know what the guy said to Girl 1 that outraged her…
    LOVVVEDDD!! :*

    Like

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