Olivia bit her lip. Maybe this was all just a dream. Was she really sitting next to Joshua in an Italian cafe? She felt like she was about to faint.
Joshua leaned closer and said, ’I’ll be right back. Let me see if I can find a pen nearby.’ With that Joshua stood to his feet & marched to find a pen.
Now she was left to ponder whether this was some prank. Or silly trick. Brianna would pop out from one of the tables and reach for her phone to record the whole thing.
This was odd. Maybe it was time to leave, and tell Joshua that she did not like any of the items served in the Italian cafe.
She looked around and soon spotted Joshua waving his hand in triumph, because he had managed to find a pen. Olivia shook her head. This guy was something else. She chuckled and thought that maybe she would stay just a little longer. And try some of the items served at the Italian cafe.
Joshua sat down and laughed. ‘I found a pen. Now where were we.’
Olivia clasped her hands and asked, ‘Do you mind if we order something first?’
He said, ‘Not at all. I’m sorry. Yeah, let’s get a bite to eat before I get to know you, Olivia.’
Her heart skipped a beat. What was she going to order? She stared at the menu. Ah, there were so many options: should she grab something light, a snack~ perhaps, or go for a little more filling meal— mmm- the pictures of the pizza on the menu made her want a slice, even two.
The crunch of the crust had a filling of cheese. This order was perfect. All that was missing was a combination of pepperoni with pineapple. She looked up from the menu, and wondered what Joshua was going to order.
His index finger was fixed on one item. Was he only ordering a drink? A pink lemonade. She gently tapped him on the shoulder.
Joshua looked at her and winked. She froze for a bit. Why was he winking at her? She cleared her throat. ‘What are you going to have?’
He raised his eyebrow and stroked his chin. ‘I think I’ll have a lemonade.’
Olivia folded the menu and held it for a little while. Then she said, ‘I am going to order half a pineapple pizza.’
‘I hear that is one of the best items on their menu.’
She flipped the menu and placed it on the table. Joshua closed his & put it back on the table, too.
Olivia took a deep breath, and asked, ‘Do you like pizza’
He shook his head. ‘No, but I love lemonade.’
She watched him reach for the pen that he had placed behind his ear. He tried to balance it between his nose and upper lip. It landed on the table with a light tap. They reached for the pen at the same time.
Her heart was beating like a drum. She slowly gazed at their hands. His hand over hers.
He moved his hand closer and locked their fingers. The sound of a click from the waiter’s pen made Olivia jump a bit.
Joshua chuckled. She blew a bubble and asked what they wanted.
She took note of their orders and grabbed their menus from the table. Joshua asked for a sheet of paper from her notepad.
Olivia watched him begin to take some notes down. His hand moved in a steady motion.
‘Are you taking some notes about me?’
‘Yes. Only the little bit of information that I have so far is: Olivia Pines’ favorite pizza from the Italian cafe is: pineapple pizza.’
Olivia laughed and was enjoying Joshua’s company. Joshua saw that she her smile. He clicked his pen and wrote: Olivia Pines’ smile is much more refreshing and beautiful than pink lemonade.
9th July, 2020.
To Write; To Live
''In between her thoughts and ideas there were words, always words. Never did they drop properly from the tongue, disjointed and self-conscious as they would emerge. But by pen...by pen the words could dance, sing, inspire, emote, play, die, and be reborn. By pen, why, they came alive. By writing, she came alive. And she knew it wasn’t reality but reality-adjacent. Because reality hardly ever approaches one’s own idea of perfection and sometimes, perhaps even oftentimes, her words could. And in that truth lay the tragedy that when she ceased to write, she ceased to live. She ceased, even, to seem alive. This being the case, why would she ever stop writing? I’m certain she could never tell you, and ceasing to write, how could we ever know? If only someone close to her knew her story, and was willing to share it...''
My phone buzzed by my side as I sat in my chair, writing - as always. It was a way for me to relax and, well, a way for me to live.
I stared down at the screen, unlocking my phone to read the entire message, it read:
Hey! I mean, hi... hello. Anyways, how are you? I was hoping we could talk, about something quite important - please. Thank you. - Joshua R.
I frowned at the message, Joshua R? Why would he message me, want to talk to me? How did he get my number? I don't share my number with anyone, since there's no one to share it with, no friends, even colleagues who need it, want it or ask for it.
I'm most of the time, invisible.
I sit for a while, thinking this is some sort of prank that either Joshua himself is pulling on me or my enemy, Brianna. I think of something to write back, but before I can, my phone buzzes again.
This isn't a prank, or Brianna (or her friends) if you're wondering.
I consider this, and Joshua, himself, and then write a vague reply:
Hello, what do you want to talk about? (Is it about me?)
He responds right away, as if he were waiting:
Huzzah! The girl is alive and responding! (Sorry, just didn't think you'd reply). Anyways, thank you, Olivia, can we meet somewhere? Now?
I laugh and then furrow my brows:
Meet? Why? Where? Now?
He replies, with a response I read in a matter-of-fact tone:
Yes. Because - something important. Local park? Yes, now.
I put my phone down, on my desk, and suddenly feel somewhat afraid.
Afraid to step out, afraid to meet someone - especially someone like Joshua: popular, relatively smart, friends with Brianna and all the other snobby, rude and nasty colleagues of mine. Afraid to go there, with my hopes up that he wants to be nice, but instead, evidently, breaks my heart. Disappoints me. Scares me. Teases me.
Afraid to be with people, as friends, as more than friends, as simple colleagues, as anything.
People don't like me, and I just learned to avoid them. Them all.
My phones buzzes:
Hey, you there? You're okay? Alive? Fine? Is this a yes to the meet-up place? Or a no?
I pinch myself - for no reason, hold my breath and type, reluctantly:
I put my phone in my pocket, stand up, and grab some outdoor appropriate clothing. Before leaving my room, I grab a jacket, too.
I walk to the park, since it's very close to where I live and actually arrive before he does. For some reason, I feel disappointed that he's not here before me, maybe I was hoping he was waiting here for me the entire time.
I sit on an empty bench and decide to tie my brunette hair in a pony tail while I wait.
Suddenly, a voice appears behind me,
''This isn't a date. You don't have to do your hair,''
I turn, quickly and meet his gaze. At first I thought he was being rude, but the smile on his face, with gleaming brown eyes lets me know that he was joking. Teasing, in a friendly way.
My cheeks still burn bright, hot pink, at the comment. At the idea of a date. With him.
''Sorry if I'm late, didn't mean to make you wait.'' He says, now sitting next to me. He's still staring into my eyes, my blue-blue eyes, which makes me nervous.
''I didn't wait long,'' I reply, very quietly.
He nods, smiles and says, ''That's good.''
After this, we just sit in silence, side by side, him occasionally staring into my eyes, then messing with his hair and repeat. While I look back, look down, anxiously move my feet everywhere and repeat.
''Why are we here?'' I ask, suddenly, breaking the silence.
He seems a bit surprised, but still responds, ''I needed to talk to you.''
''Why the long wait, though?''
''I have no idea.'' He says, laughing. This makes me relax, and I actually smile a bit too. He stares into my eyes, locking gazes, and then stares at my smile, my mouth. I look down, again.
''Because, Olivia, I want to know your story.''
I cock my head to the side, heart beating as if I'm running a marathon. ''What?''
''Your story. I want to know who Olivia Pines is. I want to know the story of a beautiful-''
''-Smart, quiet and seemingly lonely - no offense- girl. I want to know the story of an amazing person, who I want to get to know. I want to know the story of you. Since you write like it's your oxygen, I want you to narrate it, to tell it to me.''
He gives me an expectant look, still giving me a wicked, lopsided smile. By now, my whole body is hot and shaky, my face blushing like crazy. His expression softens, gaze too and he murmurs, ''Heh, sorry. Didn't mean to hit you with a bus. Are you okay?''
I manage to compose myself enough and I reply, voice quivering, ''Uh, yeah - yes. I'm okay...'' I took a deep breath, sighed and continued, ''Is it true?''
His eyebrows furrow, ''What?''
I open my mouth, then close it a few times before saying, ''What you said, is it tr-''
''Of course - yes.''
''Ah,'' is all I can say, all that comes out of me.
He raises an eyebrow and grins. ''Surprised?''
''Oh, oh. A bit.''
He folds his arms, ''Why's that?''
I gulp, ''No one's ever said things like that about me, no one's ever wanted to 'know my story'.''
''You're kidding, right?''
''No,'' I murmur, shaking my head.
''Huh,'' he says, looking proud.
''What?'' I ask, smiling a bit.
''No, no. Nothing. Just surprised, sad and proud.'' He says glancing up at me.
''How's that?'' I ask, giving him a sly look, and he gets it, he understands how the tables have turned; it's my turn to ask the questions now.
He laughs to himself before replying, ''Well... I mean, it's surprising no one's shown interest in you, which makes me sad, too.''
''And you're proud because...?''
''Oh. Because it seems like I'm the first.'' He gives me, yet another, wicked grin.
I shake my head, laughing, ''I guess you are.''
''No, but seriously. I want to know your story, I want to share it with everyone, maybe write a book about it: 'The Story of the Amazing Girl, Olivia Pines'.'' His tone changed to serious now, but the last part, his 'book title' was said with an amused smile.
''That's a way too long title.''
''Okay, well I can shorten it, 'The Memoirs of Olivia Pines'- better?''
''It's better,'' I say smiling.
''Come.'' He suddenly says, standing up and stretching his arm out towards me.
I hesitate, ''Where? Why?''
''Oh my, the questions!'' He exclaims, eyes shining with happiness. ''Just, come. We'll go get something to eat, and you can tell me your story.''
''Seriously? With me?'' I asked, staring and memorizing every strand of hair of his, every piece of hair that falls over his face.
He frowns, ''Yes, dummy. With you. My only interest is you, getting to know you and being there for you. I'm tired of people being rude about you, just 'cause you're smart, and like books instead of 'selfies'. I wanna be with you, Olivia. Now, come,'' He's smiling now, that beautiful, heart-fluttering smile.
Blushing madly, I say, ''Wow, thank you... I guess, where do you want-''He grabs hold of one of my hands, pulls me up and walks with me, still holding my hand.
''So, you're story, I can tell you mine after?'' He offers.
I smile, look down at our entwined hands and nod, ''Okay,''