rewrite June exercise pt 1
Find a Conversation
|Sat, 07-01-2000 - 12:16pm|
rewrite June exercise pt 1
"Melanie, you ready for another cup?" Melanie looked up at the young waiter and smiled vaguely as if she hadn't really heard him. The question finally sunk in.
"Sure, Matt. I'm only on my sixth cup. Who needs to sleep anyway?" Matt poured the steaming liquid into her mug and left Melanie to her journal and her thoughts.
Melanie snuggled up against the wall in her favorite counter seat, welcoming the mellow aroma rising with the steam. Here in this all-night diner, she passed the time writing in her journal or simply observing the other customers. Watching people always amused her. Interacting with them, she could do without.
"Is this seat taken?"
The voice penetrated her solitude more abruptly than Matt's question had. She knew that voice but could not place the owner until she raised her gaze to meet the bluest eyes she'd ever seen, eyes she'd looked into many times, many years before. Within seconds she felt a familiar sensation which she couldn't immediately place either. Melanie’s breathing sputtered and faltered. She realized she was once again drowning in those pools of crystal blue.
Her mouth refused to function. After three years of not knowing what had become of him, or why he had left for that matter, Alex Scott was sitting in front of her. It was too much like something out of a romance novel, and not a very good one at that. Melanie's brain was clogged with questions. "Why did you disappear?" "Where have you been?" “What did I do wrong?” Or maybe "What the hell do you want from me?" But most of all "What in God's name took you so long?"
Of course none of these things came out of her mouth. All she could manage was a quiet, almost inaudible "Hello, Alex."
"Did you say something, Melanie?" Matt asked her. Melanie started. She blinked and looked again at the newcomer at the counter. This stranger was no more Alex Scott than she was the Queen of England.
"No, Matt. Just talking to myself again. Nothing new, right?" She gave Matt, as well as the stranger, what she thought was a reassuring smile. She bent her head over her journal, letting her short, blond hair fall across her face. Even though her locks hid her embarrassment while she tried to compose herself, they could not keep out Matt’s concerned stare.
Melanie couldn’t bear the worry she sensed in Matt’s gaze. It felt too much like pity. Melanie jumped up, threw everything into her bag, and left the diner quickly, tossing the change for her coffee on the register as she passed. "See you tomorrow, Matt!"
Once outside, Melanie tried to catch her breath. The image of Alex taunted her and she couldn't shake it. Ever since he left, this sort of thing happened to her. She would see a man who looked so much like him that her heart jumped into her throat and she choked on it. Sometimes she met him only in her dreams. Upon waking, the realization that he was only a fleeting shadow forced her to relive the pain of losing him all over again. To avoid this recurring sense of loss, Melanie rarely slept at all anymore. Her fondness for a strong cup of coffee and the convenient location of the 24-hour diner right around the corner from her flat came in very handy when night fell and sleep threatened.
The familiar, almost automatic walk home allowed Melanie a few more moments to try to compose herself. She wished she could just enjoy remembering her life with Alex. But her obsession with his departure made it all too hard. She and Alex had met in college, a blind date of all things! Melanie didn’t believe in love at first sight, but she admitted there was an instant connection between them, an unexpected but more than welcome spark. They talked everyday for hours about everything and nothing at all. They disagreed often and delighted in the heated debates that ensued. Alex, unlike every other man in her life, never let her win to pad her ego. In fact, no one usually won at all. They seemed a perfect match for each other. What could have possibly made him just pick up and leave?
These waking dreams plagued Melanie more frequently and she really didn't know what to do. Alex had been gone for three years now. Why couldn't she just forget him and get on with her life? "What life?" Melanie jumped at the sound of her own voice. "Great! Now I really am talking to myself. What next?" She searched around in her bag for her keys as she neared the door to her apartment. She raised her eyes to take in the towering, gray building. In the dim light of the only working street lamp on the block, the structure resembled some sort of asylum or institution rather than a place of residence. "Then again, look at some of the people who live here!" she laughed to herself as she took the elevator to the tenth floor.
Melanie slipped into her unlit apartment, ignoring the light switch. The dark surrounded her and she welcomed it. She undressed blindly and sprawled out across the couch. A glance at the electric numbers on her alarm clock told her it was almost four in the morning. She set it for six-thirty and closed her eyes. Maybe I stayed up late enough this time. Maybe I won’t have any energy to dream.
The harsh tones of the alarm dragged Melanie out of her fortunately dreamless slumber. She showered, dressed, had a cigarette with her breakfast of coffee and toast, and then left to catch the 7:30 bus to the library. On her way to the stop, Melanie added a new element to her daily ritual. She prayed under her breath. "Please let me get through this day without any more visitations from the past. I cannot take much more of this."
Right on time, the bus pulled up and Melanie climbed the steps, paid her fare and took a seat towards the back. This vantage point allowed her to observe the other passengers as they boarded. Melanie decided to distract herself with a little game. She liked to pick out an odd commuter. He might have an extraordinarily large bag or she might just have a frantic expression. Melanie then amused herself by creating a story with that lucky person in the lead role. She carefully watched the oncoming passengers, waiting for her next main character to appear.
The bus lurched to a halt to let a straggler catch up and board. Melanie stared at the man as he made his way to the seat opposite hers. She froze as he caught her eye and smiled at her. Those eyes again. Those eyes could radiate an icy stare one minute and then turn around and emanate the heat of a raging fire. No, not a raging fire. More like the blue center of a flame that burns with a concentrated heat. "Alex?" Melanie gasped.
The gentleman turned at the sound of her whisper. "Excuse me, Miss? Were you addressing me?"
Melanie did not trust herself to speak. As she realized she had once again been mistaken she simply shook her head. The rest of the way to work, Melanie gave up her role as would-be-author and kept her eyes and thoughts to herself. If I can just get to work without another incident, I'll be okay. I'll make myself be okay. If I can just get to work, just to the library.