This Scene is a rough draft from my future Novel Remigium Rising. For Saturday Scenes from other authors, search for #saturdayscenes on Googleplus and Twitter.
Tenzin felt like a fool standing in the middle of REI. He wore a climbing harness that bunched his pants in all the wrong places until they resembled a diaper. Richard read the write up on the new harness last week, but the trip devolved quickly into a serious project. They were planning a long trip to Tahoe, and it was the perfect excuse for more gear.
Tenzin lifted his legs and let the ropes hanging from the ceiling take his full weight. A sharp pain hit him in the groin and he put his legs down.
“I swear, everything is always made for you giants,” he said. Richard laughed while inspecting the weight ratings. Tenzin unclasped the harness and disappeared to the other side of the massive store until he found the knife display.
Since he began sailing, Tenzin cherished pocket knives. He lost his favorite while kayaking last summer and hadn’t found the right replacement. Looking at the large glass display gave him a twinge of excitement. The college student behind the counter handed him several blades. He rolled them from one hand to the other and flipped one open, but they were light and the blades stuck.
“Ten,” Richard said from behind. “I’m going to buy the orange one.”
“What do you think of this?” Tenzin tossed him the small black knife. “Fells a little tight…”
“Handles well,” he said. “Don’t you like Tanto Blades though?”
Tenzin nodded and laid the knife on the counter, “Coffee?”
“Sure.” Richard said, and they left for the cafe.
Tenzin didn’t mind the short drive to market hall. He wanted to savor the relaxed atmosphere and visit one of the nearby bookstores. Regardless, Richard was always up for a trip to the cafe so he could wander through the gourmet shop. He usually left with some spice or animal part Tenzin assumed only his mother enjoyed.
Within minutes Richard found a tall redhead that needed help picking out truffle oil. She had large friendly lips and kept pushing a strand of hair behind her ear. Tenzin mumbled something about the cafe and made a quick exit.
“Hey,” said the pink haired girl behind the counter. “Green tea? Dragon ball?”
Tenzin smiled. “Yes, and a double cappuccino for here.”
“Got you,” She tapped on the register quickly. “Haven’t seen you all week.”
“I got lost in a cave,” he said making her chuckle.
Once he had the drinks and sat outside, he leaned back and poured half the teapot into a small cup and lifted the filter so the tea wouldn’t get bitter. Five minutes later Richard showed up and slid into the other chair.
“That took a while,” Tenzin said. “You’re losing your touch.”
Richard glared at him and took a drink. “She’s a designer. Way too ditsy though.” He then went into a long lament of his vacant love like.
“You go out with more girls in a week than I have in the last two years.”
Richard shook his head. “They’re all duds. The ones at school are smart and some are fucking gorgeous but damn.” he said. “All they want to talk about is research or they’re married.”
“You aren’t even thirty.”
“When I meet cool girl outside—” Richard shook his head slowly.
“You sound like a girl.”
“Fuck you—” he said, “drink your tea.”
Tenzin laughed. “The dissertation?”
Richard groaned. “I’m gonna be ABD if something doesn’t shake out. My adviser didn’t accept my last three proposals.”
The sidewalk was a constant stream of middle class women pushing European strollers and far too many dogs off leash. The sun was high and bright, but a slight breeze kissed Tenzin’s arms occasionally. He listened to Richard reconstruct his school problems in silence.
“Tenzin?” The smooth delicate voice made the hair on his skin tingle and he was overwhelmed by warmth. Richard’s eyebrows lifted.
“Oh hello—Miss. Cohen.” Tenzin straightened his shirt, and willed his thoughts to slow into coherence.
She tilted her hip in feigned annoyance. “What am I… my mother.” She laughed and her voice bounced off the wall and seemed to swirl through the air.
“Uh—“ Tenzin grasped for words, and he gulped, “This is Richard.”
“Hi Richard,” she said. “I teach his creative writing class.”
“Ah,” He crossed his arms as a breeze came through looking amused. “Tenzin mentioned you. You’re a poet, right?”
“Primarily, I’ve written a couple novels but neither took off.” She was so close the rich scent of vanilla and jasmine made his head cloudy. “My order’s done. It was great running into you.” She walked away then stopped for a moment as if she wanted to say something, but smiled and left for the bakery instead.
“Damn,” Richard said. They both fell into silence. Tenzin wished his friend would say something, but was also relieved that Richard was perceptive enough to leave him alone. He heard her heels before her voice.
“Tenzin?” Sofia said returning with her coffee in hand. He lifted his face to hers and for a moment he saw a nervous light he hadn’t seen before. “I—was meaning to ask you.” She rummaged through a large leather bag until she was holding a paper. He saw her hand shake and then still. “I’m going to a writer’s retreat in December. I was thinking it would be good for you.” She stood a little taller and her voice sounded more professional. “There will be several workshops, interviews… that kind of stuff. There’s also going to be an agent day.” She laid the flier on the table. “If you can, you really should go. Think about it, please.” She handed him the paper and ran off down the sidewalk with quick little steps. When he turned to face Richard, he was staring at him.
“You didn’t tell me how gorgeous she was.” He said watching Tenzin’s face. “Hmm.”
“What?” Tenzin was self-conscious and embarrassed which only served to piss him off since he hadn’t done anything.
“What’s she like?” Richard asked. Words like kind, interesting and annoying popped in Tenzin’s head but none of them seemed to fit.
“She’s pretty—” He paused grappling for words. “Breathtaking.” His shoulders slumped and he looked up when no hazing came.
“She seems nice,” was all Richard said. Tenzin knew there was more beneath the surface that he wasn’t saying and didn’t dare to ask. “Her writing?”
“I guess… kinda like a female Neruda with a dash of bluntness.” He relaxed. “Emotional. Her fiction… complex. Not really fun, but beautiful.”
“You mean boring,” Richard said. “Like those French flicks you’re always watching.”
“I mean—Oh hell, yes boring.” He laughed deeply. “I fell asleep trying to read one, I kept having college lit flashbacks.”
“Then you must really like her.” Richard said and Tenzin looked away with a somber expression.
“You’ve talked to her, no? I mean outside class?”
“There was a reading last week.” Tenzin’s face grew warm. “It was just a thing for class.”
“After she read, she came by and we talked for a bit; it was nothing. I’m not her type,” Tenzin was conscious of the fact that he’d started to ramble but seemed entirely incapable stopping. “When I walked her to her car it was just friendly. Nothing like that.”
When he finally stopped talking, Richard’s mouth didn’t close all the way and small wrinkles developed between his brow. “Tenzin, sometimes you are an idiot.” He picked up his cup and drained the rest of the cappuccino which had grown cold and left half dried foam lingering like tea leaves waiting to be read. “Promise me something.”
“That you’ll go to that damn retreat.” Tenzin looked down at the paper sitting on the table which now had tan circles staining the white background. Four days of writing, he thought feeling adequate; he nodded anyway.
“Ten, give yourself some credit.” Richard took a breath. “And stop assuming you aren’t someone’s type,” he said. “If I had my guess—you make her just as nervous as she makes you.”
Tenzin opened his mouth, but Richard raised his hand. “I’m getting another cup to take with me to work, you want one?”
He nodded and sat alone for an hour after Richard left for work. It was less than a week since his encounter with Sofia at the reading and while he tried to put it out of his head, he keep re-playing those moments by the car. Tenzin sat for a long time staring at the antique shop across the street until he pulled out his thin notebook and began writing.