Maybe it’s the fingers.
“I consider it very romantic,” Rick said as they walked side by side down a side street in Paris. Sally didn’t say anything.
“So what’s romantic about it? How is it romantic?” Sally asked.
“It’s romantic because no one really knows what’s going on. You don’t, I don’t, that man in the bookstore didn’t either,” he paused and looked at Sally who turned to look at him, but she didn’t say anything. “If you take the perspective of the bookstore employee, it must be almost excruciatingly romantic, don’t you think? A young man and a woman stroll into his shop, find romantic poems and read them to each other. He thinks they’re obviously together, maybe even on something of a honeymoon. He sees they’re clearly so in love they can’t even talk straight, but have to resort to reading other’s poems to get across the fiery feelings they have for each other. He’s probably looking out of his shop door right now to see where the couple is heading and if they’re holding hands or arm in arm or kissing on the corner,” Rick looks to Sally but Sally looks behind her to the shop. Rick held his neck with all of his might to not look.
“Is he looking?” Rick whispered.
“I’m not telling,” Sally said and turned her gaze back to Rick but couldn’t hold in a smile.
“See, that’s it. That’s it right there. For me, it’s the curiosity, the unknown, the potential for possibility,” he paused. “Which all sounds great and exciting and would make for a good story, but the thing is,” he stopped in the street and waited for Sally to stop and look at him. “The thing is, Sally, is I don’t know either. I don’t know what’s going to happen either. I mean, I really don’t know. I’m not just pretending to be mysterious or cool or suave, but I really don’t know what’s going to happen and that, my dearest newest friend, is romantic.”
“Damn,” Sally said as she nodded her head, turned it back towards where they were heading and started walking. They walked another block without saying a word, not that there weren’t a few hundred words on the tip of both of their tongues, ready to shoot out like a fireworks factory on fire. But they held their ground.
“Damn?” Rick repeated finally. “That’s all I get is damn?”
“For someone who says he has no idea what’s going on, you sure seem to know what’s going on,” Sally continued her thought.
“OK, so I know English isn’t your first language, but what was that?” Rick asked. “I know that I don’t know what’s going on?”
“I can handle your English, my friend,” Sally said. “Do you even know what a prepositional phrase is?”
“Is that like Preposition H?”
“Forget it, it was a bad attempt at a bad joke,” Rick regretted immediately even trying.
“OK, I guess I’m glad I might miss some of your slang or maybe just miss your bad jokes,” Sally paused. “Do you have good jokes, too?”
“Not when addressed directly and put on the spot,” Rick came back quickly. “I’m more of an on the fly guy when I’m in a groove.”
“When are you in a groove?”
“When I’m in Paris for a month with a woman I barely know writing a book we haven’t started looking at her lips and reading poems about a kiss.”
“You are quick,” Sally said and they walked as if they had somewhere to go.
Something was working between them. Rick felt on top of his game, he felt funny and fun, light but strong, clever but not cheesy. At times, he didn’t want to open his mouth and say the wrong thing but when he did speak, somehow it came out OK. Maybe this is what it was like to be in love. Well, not in love love, that couldn’t possibly happen so fast. But maybe this was how friendships started. He felt as if he had known Sally for both 5 hours and 5 years.
“I have an idea,” Rick started as they continued walking separately together in parallel. He didn’t elaborate.
“Are you going to share it with me or do you want me to extract it from your brain with a swizzle stick?”
“How do you know the word swizzle stick?” Rick asked.
“Are swizzle sticks even hollow?” Rick asked because he truly didn’t know.
“Is this related to the idea you had? Because if it is, now I’m extremely impatiently curious,” Sally asked with exaggerated emotion.
“No,” Rick returned to the present. “Do you have your laptop?”
“In my bag,” Sally answered.
“OK,” Rick stammered as he looked around. “There, let’s go there.”
“OK,” Sally agreed. “What’s there?”
“A cafe,” Rick answered as if that solved it all.
“Did you get that part earlier when I mentioned that you were quick?”
“Uh huh,” Rick said, not paying attention to her but how to cross the street to get to the cafe.
“Uh huh,” Sally mimicked.
They arrived at the cafe and found a small round table for two near the back.
“Perfect,” Rick said.
“And the plan is?” Sally leaned her head down and looked up at him through her lashes.
“We’re going to write. An hour straight. No talking. No chit chat. No nothing.”
“Can I use the restroom?” Sally smiled. Rick didn’t bother answering.
“Can I at least ask what we’re writing?” Sally continued.
Rick pulled out the chair for Sally to sit in. She sat. He moved around the table, obviously eager to get started. He pulled his laptop out of his bag and opened his laptop and looked up to Sally who was waiting for him to look up at her.
“We’re writing chapter one of our novel,” Rick said with certainty.
“It’s about time,” Sally said. “All of this reality is getting to me. The poems, the lips, the kisses, the hair, the glances, the breathing, it’s all just too much reality for me. No no now, what I need is a good hour of fiction. A solid hour of fantasy-laden romance. Forget this reality show you and I have been playing, let’s get down to it and write some true fiction. I’m in, Rick, I’m in.”
He couldn’t tell if she was making fun of him or serious or somewhere in between or not even in the same hemisphere, but he also didn’t care. The keys were calling out to him, the blank page was yearning for his story and it was naked in its emptiness, it needed him to fill it up with passion, lust and romance.
By this time, he forgot what Sally had said or if there was even a question in there somewhere. Rather than ask embarrassing questions like, I’m sorry, what were you saying? he decided to get down to business and his fingers sprung like magnets to the keyboard and flew over the letters at a dizzying rate.
There was nothing left for Sally to do in return but the one thing she had come here for: write.