a picture my son drew of a wave on a beach

From ­Away

Tagged with: #stories

I had to drop something to Re at work early on a Sunday morning. On the way home I thought I’d go sit in a cafe with my laptop like one of those fancy-shmancy people. I rarely do this but the house is a mess and I wanted to be alone with my thoughts for a bit.

Through the window I watched as a woman got up from one of the tables and came inside. She paused at the door before coming over to my table. Without looking at me she pulled up the chair next to me and sat beside me. On the table was todays Australian newspaper she picked it up and opened it to read. She was so close to me the pages fell over my laptop screen. Surprised, I looked at her but she did not seem to notice me despite having chosen to sit directly next to me at a large table with 8 other empty seats.

“Hi, how’re you going?”, I asked

She gave me a brief neutral look and continued to shuffle the pages of the newspaper across my laptop.

“Hey, do you mind, you’re a bit close.” Then to soften what I think may be misconstrued as rudeness I go on, “Are you on holiday?”

She looks directly at me her lips pursing as if she is wondering what to say. We hold each others gaze for longer than is normal. I am waiting for her to reply. Her lips open, close, purse and side-pucker but she say’s nothing. She smiles, looks amused and returns to her paper.

Confused, my mind raced. Is she teasing me or flirting? Maybe she is on holiday and can’t speak English. She looked Chinese or maybe a Mongolian with that sheepskin jacket. The jacket looks expensive, “Do you speak English?” I ask.

Again, the lips purse, her eyes sparkle. Will she answer or just laugh? Nope, she adopts a Mona Lisa smile as she turns her gaze back to the paper.

I’m annoyed and flustered, why is this so awkward. I reason to myself, “China is packed she probably has no idea about Australian’s ideas of personal space”. Not that I’m asking for acres of space but I would like her to stop flapping her newspaper in front of me.

This is a table that seats 10 people and we are the only two sitting here. She came and sat next to me, knees brushing and paper flapping. She is still looking at the newspaper (which is written in English) but apparently cannot understand when I talk to her. Is she is autistic; playing a game with me or just ignorant? I don’t know and to be honest I have just decided, I don’t really care.

I focus on writing this, a displacement activity. She eventually gets up. She walks back outside without ordering anything and stands too close to a crowded table of Sunday morning cafe regulars. She pulls out a cigarette and smokes over their table, oblivious.

As we say here in Broken Hill, she must be from away.

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