It was my drug. My addiction. A twenty minute drive, and a seat in my sidewalk cafe. A few pages, torn from my notebook and folded in my pocket, and a pen. Strong coffee, and a pack of cigarettes.
I didn't dwell on the contradictions of the situation - I went there to feel as though I was around people, to feel less alone. I went there, because at a table in the corner, I could feel invisible. For the time I was in this place, I could feel like I was part of the human race, while feeling like I was sitting in a different place to everyone else. Just a couple of seconds behind normal time.
"When you're 25, you're more stable..."
I look around to find the person making this incredible revelation. He must be about 19 years old, and he sounds so certain. His words aren't speculation - it's a statement of fact. I think about filling him in - at 26, I've never experienced such turmoil, such flux in my life. I decide against it though - he'll learn for himself some day.
From the other side of the cafe, a single voice dominates.
Sitting on the railing near a table of people, there may as well be nobody else there - there is nobody else, just him.
The thing that catches my attention, is how they all hang, on everything he has to say. They all listen, allow him to talk...and talk...and talk.
Except her. Her lack of interest is clear, shining bright in the midst of them all. He doesn't seem to notice.
All the while, a mobile phone has been ringing, over, and over. Answered by the same person every time. To talk about nothing. I had my drug - and she had hers.
A waiter man places my coffee on the table. "There we go". No...there's just me. No, I'm not going out after I'm done here. There's a glint in his eye, as he asks. Knowing, like he's satisfied that he's been able to read between the lines, to justify his assumptions. I don't think he'd understand, or believe, if I told him that I'm a one line story.
At a table under an old oak tree, I catch the eye of a girl sitting with her friends.
She smiles at the contact our eyes make.
I never did find out what went through her mind at that point in time, but I can't help but wonder - was it pity?
After a couple of hours, I stand to leave. Fold my scraps of paper, and slip away. Soon, I'll return. I need this.