This was her third time in the tea house, but her first alone. The waiter, a senior at her school, had complimented her necklace last time she was there with her grandmother, and she was excited that he even noticed her, let alone talked to her in public.
She wrote his name over and over in a little journal she had.
She talked about him to her best friend.
Her grandmother had even said to her, “What a nice boy he is. Is he a friend of yours?” Which of course caused her to blush.
And now, after weeks of preparing herself mentally, she was back at the tea house, alone. She wore her favorite sundress, pinkish-purple, the necklace again (of course), and carried her money in a heart-shaped purse she’d bought just for the occasion. Also, as an excuse for going alone, she brought an old copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn to feign reading.
When she entered the little home-turned-shop, he was by the door.
“Hey you, back again huh? No grandmother this time?”
She giggled, blushed and stammered something she hoped made sense.
“Well, let me show you to your table,” he said with a smile as she swore she noticed a twinkle in his perfect blue eyes.
She was so flustered that she slammed her purse down a bit too hard, the chain going wild.
“What will you have?” he asked.
She already knew her favorite tea, but still took a moment to gain the nerve to talk to him.
“Earl Grey, please.”
He smiled and left her.
She opened the book and tried to read it, but was mostly watching him walk from one spot to the next behind the counter, getting her drink ready. After a few minutes the sound of water boiling warned her of his imminent return.
“Your tea.” He said, holding up the teapot.
She nodded and pretended to read.
“Hello? Would you like it?”
She nodded again, face starting to turn red, wondering what he was doing.
She looked under the book to see that the chain of her purse had somehow ended up in the teacup, keeping him from pouring the water.
“Oops,” she said, redder than ever, ears burning, as she removed her purse from the table.
She would never, ever, ever in a million years live that moment down.
Heart-Shaped Purse photograph by the amazing Manon De Sutter. This photograph, along with a few of her others, inspired this story. Please check out her work.