Not Taking Up Too Much Space


alicia_icon.gif graeme_icon.gif

Scene Title Not Taking Up Too Much Space
Synopsis Two strangers and awkward conversation about personal space in a diner.
Date February 19, 2011

The Nite Owl

Early evening has the Nite Owl in full swing — an atmosphere fragrant with the smell of frying foods, conversations a susurrus of white noise overlaying the sizzle and hiss of cooking in progress. Even on Saturday, lacking true weekday rush hour, the diner is packed for dinner; several tables have been co-opted by one large group, its members obviously related in their looks, ebulliently taking up an entire end of the floor. The long white counter is a more sedate affair, populated by the loners among the restaurant's current patrons; from the handful of empty stools, that sort aren't as much out in force tonight.

Alicia has somewhat incidentally managed to take up two stools by herself — it happens when you negligently drape your coat over the nearest available furniture that isn't an eating surface. The downside of sitting at the counter: no chairbacks to hang jackets on. Aside from its taupe-colored bulk, she has today a dark green long-sleeved shirt and worn blue jeans; the gloves she wears are a bit of an oddity over dinner, but unremarkable in their gray color. To be fair, she's already finished eating — but the peppermint milkshake, of that size only ever found at real diners, looks like it'll keep her here a while yet.

Graeme pushes the door open with one gloved hand, the other holds a skateboard that has been quite thoroughly cleaned of dirt or grime or other things that would make it inappropriate to take inside with him, and he heads for one of the empty seats at the counter, the other side of Alicia's jacket, taking off his own black peacoat.

There's a momentary pursing of his lips in a frown before he too decides that it's going to be okay to take up two seats. "Just coffee for now, yeah?" The man nods to the waitress as he sits, pulling off a grey cabled sweater and setting it on top of his jacket, so that he sits at the counter, leaning on one arm and tapping absently at a page on his phone, in a thinning, older short sleeved tee, a light blue that almost matches his eyes.

Alicia realizes there's someone walking through the aisle looking for a seat; and, oh yeah, she doesn't actually have any claim on the next stool over. By reflex, she reaches for her own coat — only to realize a beat later that the next place down was open, he's taken it, and she's still in the category of Not Yet Taking Up Too Much Space. Ducking her head slightly and replacing her hands self-consciously around her glass, the young woman gives Graeme a politely sheepish smile for all that he's face-down in a smartphone.

Graeme glances up, sees the smile, and sort of looks sheepishly down at his phone until the coffee comes. Hands wrap around the warm cup, and there's a little bit of a reflexive shiver, though he didn't at all seem to be cold before then. "Hey. Um. Sorry if…" Graeme pauses, phone now all but ignored as he looks up at the ceiling. "Sorry if I disturbed you."

"No, no," Alicia assures him, a flick of her fingers dismissing any possible worry. "I just realized maybe my coat shouldn't be on the other stool." Speaking of which… her eyes angle down towards said garment, and she scoops it off the adjacent seat to drop it unceremoniously atop her feet. "I don't actually need as much space as any two other people," the young woman declares with another smile.

She takes a quick glance up at the ceiling, as if to see whatever caught Graeme's attention.

Sadly, staring at the ceiling is just Graeme's habit of avoiding direct social contact. There's nothing actually there, and after a moment, he stops looking at it, picks up his coffee, and turns to face Alicia. "Oh." For all the time he spends thinking about what to say, one would possibly expect him to say more, but he doesn't. Instead, he sips from the cup of coffee in his hands, coffee that has not been fussed with and is still strong, black, and most importantly, warm. "M'name's Graeme." There's a flustered bit of a shrug as he introduces himself.

Alicia chuckles, just the littlest bit, as the silence is broken in a most anticlimactic manner. Occupies herself with small sips of ice-cold mint shake, the better to not freeze the inside of her mouth. "I'm Alicia," she supplies in turn a moment later. "Pleased to meet you." She watches him from the edge of her vision for a little longer, considering his apparent social discomfort. "Nasty wind out there today."

"The pleasure's mine." From any other man, the statement Graeme makes could possibly be interpreted as flirting. But something in the way that Graeme says it, it pretty much isn't. He does smile, but it's just a friendly smile, and he looks past Alicia, out to the street. "Yeah, bit. Dunno." He shrugs. "Effort expended skateboarding… tends to make the weather matter less. Not something I'd stand outside in though, by any means."

"No, that's why there's a subway." A short pause, before Alicia shrugs slightly, in the manner of an afterthought qualifier. "Where it still runs, at least." Which isn't everywhere, these days. She turns back to her milkshake, briefly stirring the unnaturally pink slush before taking another drink.

"Or taxis, or…" Graeme grins a bit. "Yeah, all've that." A few minutes pass as he looks at a menu, quietly ordering the next time that the waitress passes by before she refills his coffee. "I dunno. Sometimes I prefer to ride, though. Need th' exercise and all that." Not that he really needs the exercise. It looks like the man probably works out. Regularly. "Don't have much else I do with my time, though. Suppose other methods of transport are faster." Then he stares down at his coffee cup again, turning it around several times.

"Wouldn't know," Alicia remarks, echoing Graeme's grin. "Never tried a skateboard, myself. Used to know my way around a bike… Huh." Brown eyes unfocus to gaze somewhere into a middle distance, as her thoughts wander. "…way back when. Before Mom decided I needed to learn 'ladylike' things." That the quotes are audible suggests her mother didn't necessarily succeed in that endeavor. "Anyway. Yeah, they're probably all faster," Alicia agrees, returning to the prior subject of discussion.

Graeme shakes his head slightly. "I like my skateboard, though," he admits. "Even if I had a school administrator the other day ask me to please not show up to school with it. Such're the consequences of life." He continues to stare at his coffeecup until his food — a bowl of soup — arrives, at which point he pays attention to the soup, rather than feel obligated to continue the conversation at the same rate. "I never actually learned to ride a bike."

"Nothing wrong with a skateboard," she assures Graeme. "As long as you don't make a practice of running down everyone else, anyway," Alicia amends as she takes the check for her meal. The blonde casts a brief smile his way. "I'd about swear it was a competition the boys had going in college — bowling for pedestrians." Standing, she leans down to retrieve her coat from its huddle on the floor.

Graeme has to smile at that last bit. "Trick skaters," he mutters. "No, I never really got into that." He watches Alicia, careful, observant, fishing over into the pocket of his jacket for a card. "Some friends of mine and I play poker occasionally. Maybe you could join us some time?" The card is offered to her. "Careful out there in the weather," he adds.

Pale eyebrows arch upwards at the offer of a card; not, apparently, an expected conclusion to the casual conversation. "I take it you are into card tricks?" Alicia asks, good-natured grin making clear that she's only teasing. One gloved hand plucks the bit of paper from his grasp, and she glances at its face before tucking it into a jacket pocket. "I might do that. You be careful, too — supposed to get icy tonight," the blonde adds, before leaving cash on the counter and starting for the door.

Graeme smiles. "Just a few of them." That said, he returns his attention to the bowl of soup in front of him, which has now cooled to a more easily edible temperature, with one last glance as Alicia leaves. "Of course. Yeah, I will."

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