Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are clutch, delight, happy.

Tutor, Unrequited

The sun is warming and it chokes the autumn breeze into temporary submission that allows people to throw off their coats and sweaters, their cashmere scarves.
Workers escape their office confines and cubicles, flee to open park benches to sun themselves.
There’s a couple reading to one another from a battered paperback. They sit close, sharing sips of coffee from a tall, stainless steel mug they set between them on the concrete.
She’s all serious focus during her turns. Clutching the book with both hands, she squints at the type, speaks clearly, yet cautiously.
Dressed in layers of blacks and grays, ripped jeans and knee-length boots, she’s compact in her posture. One leg over the other, her shoulders droop slightly.
There’s a confidence about him, part of the age difference, and he listens intently, eyes closed, an arm rests across the bench, his hand positioned on her shoulder.
As she reads, she brushes stray locks of hair, shiny and black, away from her glasses.
He wears a battered olive-green baseball cap three-quarters backward that covers the short-cropped hair graying at his temples. His chinos are worn, frayed at the cuffs. His dress shirt is equally worn and he wears it untucked, the sleeves rolled to his elbows. He throws his left knee over his right, opposite of how she sits.
The book is written in French and he stops her from time-to-time to correct her pronunciation, or to clarify a passage. At these times she bites her lower lip until it goes white. The gesture secretly makes him happy. A feeling that she’s totally his, in that precise moment.
Surrendering the book, she takes a long sip of coffee, readjusts herself. She leans into him as he reads, crossing her arms, idly rubbing her upper arm.
Adjusting his glasses, he holds the book in one hand, his thumb between the pages, four fingers across the spine. His other arm rests across her back and as he reads, makes and O with his thumb and index finger while the remaining three digits fan the air like a conductor giving direction to the orchestra.
The moment is broken when a young man in a Navy pea coat and black wool slacks walks up, mobile phone to his ear. She stands suddenly, nearly knocking the book away, and tosses her arms across the boy’s shoulders. He moves the phone from one ear to the other, lightly kisses her cheek in the process.
There is delight in her eyes as she rushes to pack up her backpack, and chatters excitedly with her suitor with animated hands.
Adjusting his cap, he places a leather bookmark into the book, sets it on his lap, screws a smile onto his face.
The boy extends a hand, still talking into the mobile, and the man stands, grabs it, pumps once, twice, and lets go.
The book tumbles to the ground. She rescues it, slips it into her pack, and follows her young man, who is moving through the crowd, putting up distance.
She turns, blows the man a kiss, waves.
He sits, draws his own pack to him, stops.
And rubs his hands across his chinos with speed and friction, looking around to see if anyone comprehends his frustration, humiliation.


Julie Jordan Scott said...

I feel such visceral disdain for the cell phone dude. Love this short story. It completely caught me in the threads as it was woven.

Thank you.

my 3ww is here.

asuqi said...

Unexpected. I really like the dynamics between the relaxed atmosphere and the emotional tension.

"At these times she bites her lower lip until it goes white. The gesture secretly makes him happy. A feeling that she’s totally his, in that precise moment." -- Well put. I get a very clear image of the character.

G.K. Asante said...

Again, another great characterization. I like how you built up the scene.

Here is my 3WW entry.

Rinkly Rimes said...

The writing of an astute people-watcher!

pia said...

NY is great for you. I loved it. An entire story without one word of dialogue. You threw out a lot of unnecessary "rules"
Again it's wonderful--and yes cell phone dude was unexepected but that took the story and propelled it into greatness

Zouxzoux said...

I have to honestly say I'm glad she left with the younger guy. The older man seems way too controlling.
Good story, acute observation.

LeiffyV said...

Amazing, I totally need to start thinking in this frame of reference for a story or two. Yet again you prove why you are Thom and we are just renting space at 3WW. I yield the rest of my time to the good gentleman from the state of New York!

Susannah said...

You painted that picture so well that the scene was vivid and the questions that it bought up added to the emotional tension. I enjoyed realing, good writing!

jaerose said...

There are so many people to watch in your world! I pictured the scene and it was almost identical to the photo that came as I scrolled seemed so perfectly captured I can't imagine their 'story' being different to the one you wrote..thanks for your visit and kind comments..Jae

faith said...

I really liked this. Reminds me of going to the zoo and watching the people. :) I'm glad she left with the young guy as well.

Anonymous said...

Despite the frustration left behind on the bench, there is a certain innocence & sweetness about this story that is very appealing.

Amity said...

Thom, you are a keen observer even to the minutest detail!

This is a very nice and interesting read!

Janet Aldrich (tec4) said...

Didn't have much use for cellphone guy, myself, and (maybe it's a matter of age) but I felt sorry for the older guy; not that I think he should wind up with the girl, but the younger guy couldn't even put the phone down long enough to acknowledge him. Nice work.

Eric J. Krause said...

An excellent look at character. The interplay between the three of them at the end was fun to read. Good story!

ms pie said...

a timeless story that could be found anywhere... yes, indeed, it was the description of the finest of details that assisted one in registering the man, his feelings, and.. what was not his to have.. besides the momentary lost moments of reading french.... years later we will find in her daily journal.."today we read another story in french, boy is it boring..." or maybe not...

shail said...

I love the small details you pack into your story!