Journal Entry: September 11, 2008
The world is a very strange place.
My friend Bianca says that I am a very orderly, precise person. Too much so, perhaps. I like mathematics, and science. There is an order to the universe, and underlying patterns. For all its seeming chaos, it has to follow certain rules.
Bianca is an artist. She thinks I should embrace the chaos and stop worrying about the rules so much. Of course, she hates that I clean the apartment regularly, and I hate that she messes it up. She does not know that this is why we are friends.
She thinks she is a good influence on me. That, if she tries hard enough, she will get me to be more flexible and relaxed. I iron my clothes while she gives these lectures, and I don’t think she appreciates the irony. Nor the ironing.
I don’t know if she realizes that I think she’s funny. I do appreciate her trying. I do. But I don’t need help to understand that parties are fun, that music is liberating, that sex can be mind-blowing. I know these things already. I had a youth too. She is still in the middle of hers. I have grown up faster.
My life has been unpredictable enough. It’s time for routine, it’s time for pattern, it is time to play it safe. I have Bianca in my life for a dash of spice, to bring in random elements to the equation. That’s all I need. Otherwise, I have plans. I keep a journal only to organize my thoughts, and to track my progress.
I do the same thing every morning. I go to a coffee house, just around the corner from the library at school. I can never remember what it’s called, something silly. I get my coffee and sit until my first class, or until I have to go to the lab. I go to watch the people still in the midst of their youth. They make me smile with nostalgia.
I was like them, even just a year ago. I wonder if they know how fast it can change. For the fifteen minutes or so that I enjoy my coffee, I sit and read the paper and watch people. It’s better than television.
Today the show decided to break my illusory fourth wall.
I went in just past eight in the morning, as per usual, and stood in line to order my coffee. The owner had come out from behind the counter and picked up a coat and briefcase. She put them to one side, under a table.
“Something wrong?” I asked.
“Oh, just one of our regulars left without his stuff. He’ll probably realize it in a minute, but I don’t want someone to trip over it.”
I nodded, and stepped forward to order from one of her employees. I took my coffee and my paper to a nearby table and sat down to begin my morning ritual. I started reading.
“Excuse me, can I ask what that was about?” A man asked abruptly.
I looked up at him. I saw a young man, perhaps my age or a little older. Somewhere in the neighbourhood of thirty, anyway. His hair was neatly cut, and his face was clean-shaven. He was wearing a very expensive suit, and yet looked like he’d been running. He was quite out of place in this laidback environment.
He was also rather cute.
“Pardon?” I asked, putting down the newspaper. He blinked, and his eyes seemed full of confusion.
“When I was here, before. What was that about?”
“I imagine you purchased the coffee that you’re holding.” I smiled, wondering if he would understand the joke. I really had no idea what he was talking about. I held up my cup to demonstrate. “I bought one too.”
He looked around the shop, completely at sea. He ran his fingers over his face and looked at me again. Cute and not too bright, perhaps.
“Let me start over. I’m a little frazzled this morning. Have you seen my coat or my briefcase? I dropped them before.”
I had already forgotten the incident. I processed his question, and remembered. “The owner put them over there, said something about a regular having dropped them. She seemed certain you’d be back shortly.”
He nodded and smiled. “Thanks. I kind of need those. I wouldn’t get much done at work without my files.”
The man moved to gather his belongings. I turned back to my paper, shaking my head. I don’t know why he felt the need to disturb me over something so simple; I didn’t work there. Silly. Then, the equation solved itself. His illogical behaviour only made sense if he was trying to get my attention.
“Sorry about that,” he said, approaching again. I nodded, and continued reading. His persistent efforts proved my hypothesis, especially when he stepped closer. “This might sound silly, but you don’t have a sister, do you?”
I was convinced. He was trying to flirt with me. “Your pick-up lines suck,” I said with a grin.
“It’s okay. I’m flattered. Not very interested, but flattered. You’ve been trying to get my attention since you got in here. You’re wasting your time, but I won’t hold it against you.”
He was cute, and seemed harmless. I just didn’t have time to waste. However, he straightened up. He seemed to gather himself.
“Why is it a waste of time?”
“I’m not interested in dating, I am too busy with my studies. However, I do appreciate the compliment.”
I was trying to be polite, but firm. He smiled.
“You’re not really saying ‘go away,’ you know. You could let me try again. I’m sure I can come up with a better pick-up line.”
I almost laughed. He was persistent. “I don’t go for lines. And I don’t date. But I wouldn’t mind knowing your name.”
“Diggory Franklin.” He put out his hand, so we shook. His hand was warm and firm.
“Calla Wiley,” I told him. “Very nice to meet you, Mr. Franklin. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get to class.”
“You’re a student?”
“Graduate student, in physics, yes.” I stood up and collected my belongings. I really needed to be going. My usual fifteen minutes were more than up. “Have a nice day, Mr. Franklin.”
He didn’t give up easily. “Let me give you my card. You know, in case you change your mind on the ‘no dating’ policy. Or, if you ever need a lawyer.”
“I doubt it,” I said, trying not to smile. He was charming, in a goofy sort of way. He held out his card as I moved to go past him. I looked at his open, friendly face. I took the card without a word and walked out the door.
I was done with my impulsive youth. I needed no random elements. I had my plans. I walked to school and sat down in my first class of the day, ready for my future.
But Mr. Diggory Franklin’s face kept intruding. As did the memory of his handshake.