The Freedom That Paper Gives

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Please not next to me

CW: Anxiety

Percy went back to work and stood awkwardly while Harper took the customers order, all while determined to avoid eye contact with Marie. When he dared himself to look at her again he saw that she was, thankfully, back to her work and breathed a sigh of relief. How stupid can I be, he thought to himself? Why would I ask about her mother? I didn’t even know about her degree until a minute ago. Why would I tell her all stuff I noticed? I must look like a complete stalker.

Marie’s thoughts were a similar manner, as her anxiety was going into overdrive. He must have gotten the wrong impression about the note. Why else would he come over here to take my order? Or bring my hot chocolate over? Is it me or does it taste different to usual? Maybe he poisoned it to make sure I don’t embarrass him again? No, that’s ridiculous! He probably just messed up order. It was quicker today. Or maybe he did it on purpose so I would complain? Why would he do that? Why did I bring up my mother? Marie closed her eyes and thought it out. He doesn’t care, I could have just lied. Or told the truth, she’s English, and said nothing more. Now he’s probably thinking about my mother and what terrible secret I hide.

Marie took a deep breath, “he definitely got the wrong impression from the note.”

Marie opened her eyes and realised that she had said that out loud. She swore under her breath and looked around the slowly filling cafe so make sure no one heard. Once she was sure no one did her mind was back to racing. Maybe I should just go home? No, I can’t go home, everyone will be there and I’ll get nothing done. Maybe I should go to the library, but they don’t allow drinks. And it’s quieter here anyway. Hopefully his shift will end soon. What if he’s here all day? Maybe I should bring up the note, explain what I meant. But what if he got the right idea and me bringing it up gives him the wrong one? He probably just threw it away, he probably didn’t even read it. Look, I just need to write one more chapter and then I can go. Hopefully it will get busy so he’ll be busy. I’ll space out my hot chocolate so I can get a refill when he goes on his break. Or not, does it make it weird if I avoid him? He must think I’m so weird.

Luckily for both Marie and Percy it was busy this particular Sunday. The weather was nice and it brought a bunch of tourists. By lunchtime Percy was aching all over and just wanted to collapse into his bed, but he had promised to work all day and he needed the money. Just think of that blazer he kept telling himself, besides it will be quieter after the lunch rush. That and his break was in a minute.

Marie on the other hand was not faring any better, out of all the table available a family with young children had decided to sit next to her. Even her music couldn’t drown them all out. She was getting no where as a mix of noise, writers block and anxiety was preventing her from doing anything other than read the same sentence over and over again. And it wasn’t even a particularly interesting sentence. Marie herself was having an inner battle on whether to leave or not. On the one hand she could just get up and go, work at home or at the library. On the other hand the family might notice that she has left and know it was because of them. She didn’t want to cause any trouble so she just sat and tried to look busy. Soon the family left and Marie could breath a sigh of relief, she stopped hunching up and turned her music down. She decided she would wait a bit longer before she ordered lunch, the rush will soon be over. But just as Marie had gotten relaxed another large family came into the cafe and a look of pure panic came over her face.

“Please not next to me, please not next to me.” Marie whispered under her breath. A silent prayer to anyone who was listening.

But it was too late, they were making their way over. Two very young children and a baby. Great, Marie thought as she resided herself to another two hours of anxiety induced near panic. I mean if she left now they might not know it was because of them. Then they could use both tables, it works out for everyone. But they are too close, if she left now they would know it was because of them. Suddenly someone else had sat in the seat next to her, I say sat is was more collapsed.

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