The Freedom That Paper Gives

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The next day...

The next morning was a Sunday, it was sunny but not that kind of heat that suffocates you and drives you indoors. For some reason Percy arrived early to his shift at the cafe, he knew instantly it was going to be busy today. Although his body was aching from physio from yesterday Percy was determined to power through. Besides he was a struggling student so he needed the money. That second hand blazer he saw through the local charity shop window wasn’t cheap.

The cafe opened later on Sundays, some old fashioned rule put in place by the owners. But as always Marie was waiting outside for the door to open. For some reason Percy wanted to be the one to open the door and let her in but Harper got there before him. Marie came in and hugged Harper as she always did before going to her usual seat. Percy had made sure it was clean for her. As Marie set up her work Percy got started on his.

“Your usual?”

Marie looked up to see Percy standing by her side, she paused her music and took out her earphones.

“I’m sorry?” Marie said, confused as to why Percy was there.

“Do you want your usual?” Percy said, smiling brightly.

“Um, sure thank you. You don’t need to come over and ask me, I was just coming I promise.” Marie replied, still a little confused but mostly touched by the sentiment.

“That’s alright, I don’t like you leaving your stuff anyway.”

Both Marie and Percy looked around the empty cafe and Marie went into her bag to hand over her tumbler and to pay.

“This one’s on me, to apologise for yesterday. I really didn’t mean to embarrass you, either time.” Percy said taking the tumbler.

Marie noticed that Percy was looking a little embarrassed himself and let out a small laugh in an ill fated attempt to try and ease the awkwardness.

“Thank you, but just this once. Then we both put the matter to bed, its in the past.” Marie said, with a smile.

Percy smiled as he went back behind the counter. At least he didn’t manage to mess up this time he thought to himself. Percy quickly made Marie’s drink and delivered it to her table.

“Your in Blake’s English Lit class right? How silly of me, I don’t suppose you know Blake, its such a large class.” Marie asked, trying to make conversation.

“Oh I know Blake, we all do. He’s a...” Percy paused.

A thousand words came into Percy’s head but none of them he could say. After all Blake was Marie’s friend.

“The term we like to use is character. That and ass.” Marie jumped in, she was used to this.

Percy matched Marie’s smile.

“That about describes him,” Percy replied, “What about you?”

“I take history, four years degree. I go abroad next year.” Marie said.

At the mention of the word “abroad” Percy was suddenly more invested in the conversation. You see Percy loves nothing more than the idea of spending each day travelling to a different city or country. Half of every paycheque goes into a savings account so he can spend it travelling whenever he gets the chance. Nothing annoyed Percy more than having to spend day after day in the same place. But he promised his parents he would get a degree before globetrotting.

“Is that a part of your degree or are you taking a gap year?”

Marie was a bit taken aback but Percy’s sudden interest but carried on regardless. This is, of course, the normality Marie longs to experience, and the reason she comes here everyday.

“As a part of my degree, I get a year of experience.”

Percy’s head was full of questions about Marie, where she was going, why she was going there. But as always when he head is so full he couldn’t stop himself from spilling the questions out. Almost scaring the poor girl.

“I’m going abroad too, next year I mean. Where are you thinking of going? I’m guessing France right?”

“What makes you think that?” Marie said suddenly.

Percy looked away and ruffled his hair, he’s done it now he thought. Percy has a terrible habit of getting the wrong idea about people and drawing the wrong conclusions. This was one of those times.

“Your French right? I mean your names Marie and I heard you speaking French on the phone to a man I’m guessing is your dad. That and I’ve seen you reading a French version of Frankenstein.” Percy blabbered out, hoping he hadn’t insulted her.

Marie was a bit impressed with Percy’s perception and decided to attempt to make him feel less awkward around her. After all, she thought, they seem to have a lot in common.

“I didn’t realise you had been watching me so intently, Percy.” Marie said.

When Marie saw Percy’s reaction she knew he hadn’t taken it in the manner she meant it. He looked even more embarrassed, not looking at her. Well that went well she thought to herself. Marie has never been good at situations like these, easing tension and awkwardness. She is usually the one causing it.

“Sorry, that was in bad taste. Horrible taste actually, I guess its too soon to be making those sorts of jokes.” She backtracked, hoping to salvage the conversation.

Percy himself was going into a small panic. Does she really think I have been watching her? I have to say something to let her know I haven’t.

“I haven’t been watching you. You’ve been here every day for over a year now.”

Ok, not that, he thought to himself. That defiantly made it sound like I’ve been watching her.

“I really didn’t mean anything by my comment,” Marie explained, “In all honesty I’m actually taken aback at how right you are. My papa’s French.”

Curiosity filled Percy again, she must know all about France, maybe she even lived there. He had to be careful this time and not ask too many questions. I’ll start small he thought.

“Is your mum from France too?” He asked.

Marie suddenly went stiff and looked at her laptop screen.

“We don’t talk about her.” Marie replied, still not looking up.

Percy looked away and ruffled his hair again. Right on time a customer came into the cafe.

“I should probably go, I have a job to do and all. And you should get back to your work.” Percy said as he headed off.

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