Great novelist have a way of not only creating accessible heroes for their stories, but also intricately describing random characters that colour a particular scene. The main character is walking down the street and notices the whimsy of a passing four year old or the crouched over, silver-haired octagenerian who struggles with her groceries while her eyes smile as she loses herself in a memory.
What if you were the inspiration for one of these literary ornaments. You’re in a coffee house, killing time by half-heartedly reading the sports page that a previous costumer left behind. Unbeknownst to you, the winner of the 2020 Pulitzer is sitting on the other side of the room, studying your mannerisms and assigning them meaning. Three years later, via Barnes and Noble in Spokane, Washington, you drift by a reader’s eyes.
“I came in and ordered my usual, a little embarrassed by how many qualifiers a girl can have for a simple cup of coffee. I started to think that if my coffee required so many specifications, it was no wonder that Luke was feeling “unqualified,” as he put it. I settled into my corner chair and glanced around the room. Ronnie was there as usual. He works the night shift at the UPS warehouse, and he comes in here on his way home. I think he needs a few minutes of peace between work and his wife. She has been sick for years. He says he loves nothing more than to be with her every moment he can, but I know he is weary. He smiles at me, and tips his hat. It doesn’t matter to me how old the man is or the style of hat. Tipping a hat always makes my heart melt. Men my age don’t tip hats, or open doors, or state intentions clearly anymore.
There is a young man sitting two tables over. He sits with one hand around his steaming coffee mug, rhythmically stroking it with his index finger, the other hand turning over the front page of the newspaper. He smiles kindly, if absently, at a woman trying to rangle her three children. He thoughtfully offers her the unused chairs at his table. The deep laugh lines around his green eyes give him away as an “old soul.” In a different time, I bet he would have scooped the children up, placed them in their chairs, and walking away, tipped his hat.”