When I entered the coffee shop, I could tell right away that she was worth my time
Presumptuous green lipstick smeared across velvety kissers daintily surrounding a cigarette. Minimal make-up otherwise: a thin, dark trail around sparkling eyes, and clean manicured nails. Her olive-toned skin was flawless. She wore a white cotton blouse, short black skirt. Black sandals showing off a magnificent pedicure and a small tattoo on her inner left sole. From the distance I could not discern what it was, and I found that mesmerizing. Silver rings on every finger, even on her thumbs. Hair: a loose and natural brown. Down past her shoulder blades. She kept tucking it behind her ears. This too, I found enticing.
She was sitting by herself. Smoking a cigarette and drinking coffee. Scribbling something into a book. I could not help but keep peeking at her from the corner of my eye as I sat a few tables away from her. A waitress came, blocking my view for a moment. I impatiently asked for a cup of coffee and a newspaper. She brought it back within seconds. The coffee was a bit bitter. I liked it that way.
Perfect teeth chewed thoughtfully at bottom lip as she puzzled over something in her book. Out of the corner of my eye I saw her legs cross and the tattooed foot swinging. Small green lip print around a nearly finished cigarette. I smiled a little to myself and wondered about her.
She grinned smugly and stubbed the cigarette with little jabbing motions, wiping a few stay ashes away as she jotted something down. From the angle at which I was sitting, I could not tell what she was doing. Writing something, but what? I was curious. Of course I was. There she was, looking like anyone else, another face in the crowd were it not for that audacious smear of green and cheeky blur of a tattoo.
"Hey," her voice startle me out of my reverie. I jumped a little in my seat and turned to face her. Was rewarded with a gorgeous smile.
"Yes?" I took a sip from my almost empty cup, because I didn't know what else to do.
"What's a four-letter word for impudent?"
I suppressed a delighted smile. Aha, so that was what she was doing! "Bold." This time, the grin came full out. Bold. Exactly what she was, without even trying. How I wanted her then.
"Yes, perfect!" she scribbled it in and slapped the pen down onto the book witha satisfied smirk of accomplishment. "Thanks, for the life of me I just couldn't think of the word... ever have that happen?"
Yes. Just now. "Yeah..."
She motioned for me to join her at her table. I got up slowly and walked her way. I did my best not to stare at her mouth. She could tell something was up because she raised an eyebrow and pursed her lips a little. Which just drew more attention to them, of course. I sat down across from her and stared down at the stray granules of sugar on the cold Formica table, then glanced out the window. It was raining outside.
"I know what you are thinking," she said suddenly. I caught a glimpse of a demure grin as I looked back at her.
"Oh?" I was a little hopeful, a little anxious. I kept remembering how perfectly her lips encircled that cigarette.
"Yeah. It's not a tattoo." Again, she rattled me. It wasn't that I was thinking at all, but it wasn't what I had expected to hear, either.
"No." She lifted her foot, brushing the outside of my thigh as she did so. By accident? I hoped not. I took hold of her sandal to steady her foot. Glanced down and saw that it was not a tattoo after all, but a small dark birthmark. Her legs were bare. I stared at the mark, willing my eyes not to rove.
"Funny, it looks just like-"
"Yeah. I know."
"You get that a lot, don't you?" I looked up at her face, much safer than my alternative.
"Yes." Small smile. I let go of her foot rather reluctantly, and she gently lowered her leg back to the ground.
For a minute or two there was silence, as we calmly appraised each other. I took one last gulp of coffee, because her lips were unnerving me, and I needed to do something to distract myself from them. I set the cup down. She lit another cigarette and inhaled slowly, breath pulling, seducing the damn stick of tar and nicotine until it burned for her.
She exhaled and looked me in the eye. It wasn't a smug look; rather, it was quiet and honest. I felt a little awkward, a sensation I hadn't had since I was a teen. I was the first to glance away. This was unusual for me. She crossed her legs again, right foot rubbing up my calf; again, I could not tell if it were by accident, or...
"--t's your name?" I blinked a little as she looked at me expectantly.
"Hmm?" I said, voice a little hoarse. I cleared my throat and tried again. "Gabriel. My name is Gabriel. And you are...?"
"Gabriel," she mused quietly to herself, ignoring my question. "Like the angel. How...divine." She took another drag off her cigarette, and let the quiet ashes fall into the small tin tray. She looked down into it, rolling the tip of the cigarette along the ledge, creating a little point at the end. "What are you doing here on a rainy Sunday, Gabriel?" She looked up at me curiously.
"Just passing the time."
"Just passing the time until what?"
"Until it is time to go home, I guess."
"Well, what are you doing here?"
She smiled. "Waiting for you."
I blinked a little. Again, not exactly what I expected, but it left a pleasant feeling in me. "And how did you know I would be here?"
"I didn't know, I was just being smart." She grinned, and glanced at my empty cup. "Another?" I nodded and she signaled for the waitress to bring us some more. She poured some sugar in her coffee and I could see her lips silently counting as she did so. She stopped at 10. Spoon clinking around, stirring, she smiled and said, "I know what you are wondering."
"Oh, you do, do you?" This was strange. I was growing more and more comfortable with this complete stranger, this raw person in front of me with the coy green smile and the tattoo-that-was-not.
"You are wondering why I don't put cream in my coffee."
I laughed a little. "No, actually, I was wondering when you would tell me your name."
"Does it matter?" I nodded. Yes. I wanted to know everything, from the beginning. She leaned forward and her perfume assailed my nostrils, giving me a hungry feeling. She smelled warm, like home. I stared into serene blue oceans. "My name is Faith," she said quietly, and looked back down at the ashtray, stubbing out her smoke.
Faith. The one thing I was missing in my empty little life. It felt warm and wonderful and...safe. Faith. Intrepid and dauntless heroine in green lipstick, who rescued me on that rainy day. Faith had a strong pull on me from the start, and when I gave in, I never looked back. She never wore that spatter of green after that; frankly, she didn't need to.
I wish I could leave us there, at the coffee shop, perfect afternoon. I wish I could tell you that everything was bliss and we remained together ever after that. But this is the real world, and the real world isn't aways made of happy things. Even so, her angel stayed long after everything else was gone. And I will never forget my Faith, seductive and serene on that rainiest of days.
title a gift from etouffee. thank you.