I don’t know who you are but you’ve sat opposite me, it’s not busy and there’s not a lack of unoccupied tables that you could repeatedly rattle your expensive charm bracelet across each time you reach for your drink. Did you even ask me if you could take the scantily upholstered seat less than an arms length away from me? You carelessly threw yourself onto the furniture, scraping against the cheap imitation of a wooden floor, raised the side of your mouth in a half smile and glanced into my unfamiliar eyes with an impatient expectance. I go back to staring at the laptop screen in front of me filled with figures reporting how many units of tampons we’ve sold, how great the company is demonstrated in various graphs and how many women prefer the smooth applicator to sticking it up with their finger.
The clink clink of your bracelet resonates through my ear drums. I don’t need to be here anymore. I don’t even look at you as I down my coffee, bundle my stuff into a bag and strut out of the room full of importance as though there is an imperative meeting to intend. My false confidence fades the more steps I take and the reality that I have nowhere to be seeps through my body leaving only a burnt tongue to show for those few impulsive seconds. The decision to go sit in my car is an easy one, sitting in the silent luxury of my car would be the perfect way to pass the precious thirty-five minutes I have left of lunch. Who likes to be around people anyway?
I make my way down the same street I walk every day. Salon run by the woman with pink hair. There’s a coffee shop. Travel agents that plasters over-priced deals on its window. ‘Hip’ student bar frequented by beards and thick eyeliner. Red STOP, Green GO. Fatty greasy burger place that I shouldn’t eat but do every Thursday, their burgers contain at least 5% human sweat. There’s another coffee shop. Open the door, close the door, silence. Twenty-six minutes.
If only I had a clean car, I envy the people that have the motivation to clean their cars or the money to get someone else to do it. Boxes of tampons are stashed into every crevice – the only perk of the job and I don’t even have a vagina to make use of them. Small, large, wide-fit, fragranced, extra absorbent; I have it all. It should be advertised on my dating profile, ’27, male, has endless supply of tampons’. Now there’s a headline. A chuckle rises through my throat and leaves my lips, I close my eyes and rest my head. I am content. Twenty-five minutes.
I hear a click. Somebody is getting into their car. No. Somebody is getting into my car.
Wide eyed and motionless I stare at you standing in the open door, wind gushing through and on to my freckled face. You sit and swing your legs around whilst simultaneously slamming the door. Yellow painted finger nails reach towards my face, your bracelet clinks as you move.
‘Wha-what are you doing? Get out of my car! What are you doing?!’
‘What do you mean?’ She smiles and laughs as though I’m telling a joke.
‘Why are you in my car? I don’t know you!’ I yell to compensate for her relaxed attitude.
‘Hanna, it’s Hanna.’
‘I don’t know a Hanna, I don’t know you, you’re the girl from the coffee shop but I’ve never seen you before. What do you want?’ My voice calms, I am in control of the situation. I take a breath and focus my eyes firmly on her face. I repeat ‘What do you want?’
She pauses for a whole minute, unflinching, staring. I don’t say anything, I stare back.
‘Nothing.’ She abruptly says with an abject bitterness and leaves, slamming the door again. She storms in front of my car and smacks her bag into the bonnet. That’s going to leave a mark.
‘Dickhead.’ Hanna stares at me and spits on my car with the most contempt I have ever seen in a human being, then marches down the middle of the road. A car screeches to a halt and the driver presses his horn loudly, turning red, frothing at the mouth, cursing. She doesn’t even look, just sticks her finger up and walks off.
The scene unfolds as though in slow motion. I watch, stunned. She walks down the backstreet where my car is parked, just as she turns the corner she glances back at me and to my surprise, she smiles.
This is how I met Hannah. I didn’t know it then but everything had changed.