He’d definitely smiled at me. There was no mistaking it. It hadn’t been some trick of the light, or my mind playing a prank on me. He’d definitely made eye contact, and smiled.
“Damn.” Some of the jam had slid off my toast and onto my dress, down the very middle of it. I looked back over at him. He was laughing now. I wondered if he had a nice laugh.
“Ah well. At least you’ve established yourself as humorous,” Mim said. “You pride yourself on being funny, and you’ve already made him laugh.”
I looked over at my soon to be former best friend. “Thanks. What a consolation. He’ll think I’m a grub. A funny grub, but a grub all the same.”
Mim gave my face one look and laughed. Apparently my serious face hadn’t been serious enough. “I think you’re a funny grub, and I still love you,” she said, throwing her arm over my shoulder.
I immediately ducked out of it. “You’re not getting off that easily.” I used her arm to wipe off the jam. “There, now we’re even.”
She pulled a face, then shrugged. She’d gotten used to my antics long ago. “Now, let’s talk about this,” she said as she sipped her coffee.
“Actually, lets not.”
“Nice try pal. But I wasn’t born yesterday.” She gave me a look, silencing any mockery I had planned. “I know you. I know what you’re thinking. I know how you work.”
I looked back over at him. I wanted him to know how I worked. Then maybe he could fill me in on that little secret. I looked back at Mim and smiled. But it didn’t quite make it to my eyes. “It’s nothing. Trust me, I know better than that.”
“Better than what?”
“Better than liking the prettiest guy in the room.”
She gave me that Mim look that meant I was about to get a lecture. So I jumped in before she could. “I don’t mind. Really, I’m okay with it. I am the funny one. You’re right. I’m that funny off-kilter best friend in the rom-com. The sarcastic one that drinks a little too much at your wedding.”
Mim looked at me with either anger or disappointment. Or maybe it was sadness. Probably all three. “But doesn’t it make your soul ache, feeling this way? Doesn’t it break your heart?”
“I don’t have a heart.” I took a sip of my water, thinking about my answer. “I gave my heart to someone else, who didn’t give me this to replace it.”
“But you shouldn’t have waited around for him.”
“I didn’t wait. It’s just that no one else came along.”
“But some day. Someone will.”
“Yeah. Maybe.” I took another sip of my water, trying not to meet her eyes. “But don’t worry about me,” I said, trying to lighten the mood. “One day I’ll meet a boy and he’ll lasso the moon for me. And I’ll have the moon for a heart instead.”
And, because she loved me, Mim didn’t say anything. Because she knew that sometimes silence is a gift of itself. An acceptance. Acknowledgement.
Then, as if on queue, like there actually was a higher being in charge of the comedy of errors that is my life, the beautiful man from three tables along walked over. He was even more beautiful than I‘d thought. Damn, I was screwed.
Mim gave me a look and a smirk, and excused herself with some vague mumbling about having spotted the moon.
“Hey. I just came over to say that the jam actually improves the dress, in my opinion.”
“I’m glad you think so. I’m actually going for that Jackson Pollock look. Next I’m going for some mustard. Then maybe some beetroot.”
He laughed. It was a nice laugh. I was definitely screwed.
“I’m Jude,” he said, “what’s your name? Ms Pollock?”
I laughed. “No, it’s Scout actually.”
“Scout,” he repeated.
I knew I’d replay this moment over and over. Because a beautiful man saying my name slowly, letting it roll off the tongue, doesn’t happen very often.
“Like the book?” he asked.
“Like the book.”
“Your parents have good taste.”
“In literature, yes. In getting together and bringing me into the world…the jury’s still out on that one.”
He gave me an up-and-down look that made me want to both live and die at the same time. “You’ve got me convinced. Well, Scout-like-the-book, I hope to see you around. I’m looking forward to seeing how that dress turns out.” And, with a smile, he walked off.
Mim walked back over, with what I suspect is my least favourite look on her face. “Told you.” Damn, I’d nailed that face. “So, is the moon still up in the sky?”
I gave her my best withering stare. Which, as it turns out, wasn’t very good.
“You’re going to tell me sooner or later,” she laughed. “You may as well spill the beans. You’ve already spilled the jam.”
“He seemed nice. Funny. Gorgeous face.”
“Damn it Scout, give me more than that. You said that about the guy you saw walking on the other side of the road on the way here.”
Knowing that she wouldn’t give up until I’d given her some kind of emotional reaction, I thought it over. Secretly wondering if this would be the day we’d both look back on. Wondering if this moment was the moment.
“Well…I’d never realised my name could be a poem, until it came out of his mouth.”
Mim gave me a knowing smile, and laughed. “You, my dear, are in for a world of pain.”
I laughed. That girl knew me all too well.