I sit down in a chair i love to claim whenever i come here. I place my white ceramic mug on the small cedar table to my left, which makes a sound like a chef breaking an egg on the side of a pan. I look across the long narrow room of the cafe, out over the bar where a line has grown and see the young barista whose hands i complimented smiling at me as she steams a pitcher of milk. I pull back the cuff of my shirt to examine my watch for the time. You still have a few minutes.
I'm near enough the door that i can hear it open and close, but i do not look up every time it gets used. Instead, i put my attention into my notebook on my lap, scribbling across an empty page with my favorite fountain pen. I dig the flesh of my fingers into the rigidness of the pen's nib, holding on with an authority that allows me to freely paint my words across the lined paper. The ink bleeds onto the tips of my thumb and middle finger. I love it when this happens. I feel like it is evidence of my labor, my craft. These are my paints splattered on my clothes, my cheeks caked with soot. I rub the two symmetrical spots together, rolling the flesh-on-flesh contact around and around, when i feel an urge to look up at the door. Your hand has just left it as you let it close behind you.
You look around the cafe, even glance right at me, but keep studying the landscape. Finally, your eyes come back to my frame in the chair, notebook open and inviting on my lap, cup of steaming coffee effusing into the air. I clip my pen in the page where i'd left off, and close it. I raise myself from the upholstered seat, and greet you as you march in my direction, removing a few outer garments amidst your procession. We stare at eachother, but this level of frankness betrays the awkward tone of the benign smalltalk we share. Most of the awkwardness is yours. I ask you if you'd like something to drink, then guide you into the chair communing on the other side of the small cedar table.
You spend the first few stanzas of our conversation mostly behind your large cup of tea, cradling the wide bowl in both hands, holding it slightly tilted against your mouth. Our chemistry is immediately recognizable. We can both look at the far end of the cafe and have the same object grab our interest. You and i both notice the elderly gentleman holding the chair for his "date" to sit in, which seems odd in a cafe usually occupied with freelancers and their laptops. I glance back at you, and can tell by the way your shoulders are widening that you are growing more and more comfortable.
The volume of your voice has gradually increased, and, when you listen to me or answer a question, you look directly in my eyes, instead of a few inches above my head. I'll hold your stare, and you don't turn away so quickly. Not as quickly as when we first said hello. In fact, you are risking getting caught. You know, and i know that at a certain point you won't be able to turn away. At a certain point, you'll be trapped, and the only way you can escape is to leap to your feet and flee.
I am ready when you do, and snatch at your arm, grabbing you by the wrist. I hold it firm. You tug your entire body away from me, like a kite pulling in the wind. This sudden move has the eyes of those around looking at us, waiting for you to respond. I guide you back to your seat, where you recline in silence. In the span of the next ten minutes, the only glance i get from you burns. It is one of anger, humiliation at being caught.
When i feel that you are ready, i lead you through a slow discussion of what you'd confessed to me online. I force you to talk explicitly about the things you want done to you. I demand that you speak at the same conversational level that we were previously. You are made to describe why you believe you deserve to be treated this way, why you have come to meet me at the cafe, and why you know this has to happen.
As each minute passes with you not taking your eyes from mine, i strip you of your vices. I remove you of your hangups. I peel away your vulnerabilities. At a certain point, you'll disappear.
At a certain point, you'll be gone.