The Freedom That Paper Gives

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A decision to be made

Later, once the lunch rush had ended, Harper was taking off her apron and talking to Ian who was taking over from her. They were both looking over at Percy and Marie.

“His break ended half an hour ago, but I haven’t been able to get his attention. You know how Percy gets whenever someone talks about travel.” Harper said, still trying to catch Percy’s eye.

“Is that Marie he’s talking to? I didn’t know they were friends.” Ian replied.

“I didn’t think they were. But he hasn’t let her stop talking since his break started. Whatever they are discussing must be interesting.”

“Well they are both always reading, so they probably have a lot to say to each other. You go Harper, I’ll take over.” Ian said, noticing Harper was eager to go.

“Thanks, try and drag Percy back to work at some point. Luckily it’s quiet now. Typical just as his break ends it quits down.”

Harper went into the back as Ian took her place behind the counter.

Harper was right, Percy hadn’t let Marie stop talking about Paris or France. When she had run out of her own memories, or at least the ones she was prepared to talk about, she talked about things her father did in his youth. Then about Paris tourist traps her father had warned her about. Through all this Percy was silent apart from the occasional question. Marie herself was becoming more relaxed, her anxiety dying down, she also found she didn’t mind how close Percy was sitting. In fact it was nice having a long conversation with someone who was clearly interested in what she had to say. But she was hoping that at some point Percy would talk about himself. Marie was also becoming increasingly aware of the passing of time, she had work to be going and so did Percy.

“Shouldn’t your break be over by now?” Marie asked.

“No, I haven’t been here that long. I probably still have a few minutes left. What is the time anyway?” Percy answered, sure he still had time to listent to her talk.

Marie looked at her watch and was shocked at how much time had passed.

“Half three.”

Percy’s face quickly changed from excitement to dread.

“My break finished half an hour ago, I didn’t even notice.” Percy replied with a light laugh.

Guilt came over Marie like cold water, she had made him late. Marie herself hates being late for anything and thinks that everyone else feels the same. That and now he is going to get in trouble Marie thought. He’s going to hate me.

“I’m so sorry, its all my fault. You should have told me to stop, now your going to get in trouble because of me.” Marie apologised.

Percy had been clearing the table when he stopped and saw the worried look on her face.

“Believe me it’s not your fault, I lost track of time. And I’m not going to get in trouble, some of the people who work here take way longer breaks than me anyway. Plus its quiet now. Even if I do it’s worth it to see you talk about something your so passionate about. I learnt a lot for next year.” Percy said hoping this would put her at ease.

Marie felt better as she could tell that he meant it, she hadn’t done anything wrong. Percy on the other hand was glad to see her looking less worried and had meant what he had said. She looked like a different person when she spoke so passionately.

“That’s good at least. Well I’ll leave you to get back to work, I have to finish this.” Marie said.

“When’s it due?” Percy asked.

“Sorry?”

“Your assignment, you don’t strike me as the sort of person to leave things to the last minute.”

Marie was now having an inner batter, she didn’t want to tell Percy she was working on her novel but she couldn’t have anyone thinking she wasn’t dedicated to her work. Percy was right, she couldn’t leave anything to the last minute and she hated the thought of anyone thinking she did even more.

“Oh this isn’t an assignment, it’s just something I’m writing.” Marie found herself saying.

Percy put down the dishes and sat back down, he had no idea Marie was a writer. But it made sense in a way. A thousand thoughts were going through his mind about genres and novel length and characters that he thought she would write about. He also thought about his own manuscript at home that he had been struggling with for months, the worst case of writers block he had ever had.

“Your a writer?” Why didn’t you tell me? What are you working on, is it fiction, non-fiction, adventure, romance, gothic?” Percy asked.

Marie began to go red, she hates talking about herself but hates talking about her writing more. She wants to publish it one day but doesn’t want anyone to read it until its ready. Besides, what if he didn’t like the plot? What if he thought it was too cliche, or too out there? One thing she knew was not to discuss this with an English Lit student.

“You should probably go back to work, I’ve kept you long enough as it is.” Marie said, hoping this was polite enough.

Percy noticed Marie clearly didn’t want to talk about it and went back to clearing up. He didn’t want to push her, especially after she had been so accommodating about his questions earlier. And perhaps after they had gotten to know each other she might tell him? If not he can always buy it if she publishes it.

“Yeah I should probably get back to work. Let me know if you need anything.” Percy said.

“Will do.” Marie replied with a smile.

Percy went back to work and Marie went back to writing, suddenly full of inspiration.

Later, as Percy cleaned the same spot for what felt like the hundredth time, as everything had finally calmed down, he noticed Marie looking at the cake cabinet again. To think that yesterday this would have annoyed him, but now he found it kind of funny, especially as she didn’t seem to know she was doing it. Percy and Marie caught eyes and smiled at each other before getting back to work, both of them feeling a blush come across them.

In the space of half an hour they had both found out more about each other than they had in a year and a half. Percy had found that Marie was easy to talk to and Marie found the same. They both had a lot in common and both wished that they had spoken to each other sooner so that they could have become friends quicker. Marie wondered what would happen if he had joined their group from the beginning, would he be living with her like Byron, Oscar and Kamila. Or would he live alone like Blake, if he works in a cafe she doubted if he could afford to live alone. Perhaps he would live with Blake, or with other friends like Georgiana does. But Marie liked the idea of him living with her and the others the best. He would join them in late night discussions and debates about books and philosophy. Marie found she also liked the idea of Percy being a part of the group, as he liked travel as much as she did, maybe even more so. Oscar was a home bird who gave up a potential place at Cambridge so he could stay close to his mother, but only Marie knows this. Byron only ever goes home to Italy and while he could be convinced to go somewhere else he wouldn’t want to do anything other than read or paint. Kamila would want to go somewhere with nightlife rather than history, the exact opposite of what Marie looks for. Blake would only care about how expensive the holiday would be. Maybe she should try and become better friends with Percy?

Percy himself was deep in thought and wondering what would have happened if he had joined their group. He wouldn’t have to study alone or go to the museum alone because none of his friends at the moment were into that sort of thing. He had attempted to take a date to the museum once but he didn’t want to sit and look at the paintings or read about their history. Percy wondered what type of person Marie was at a museum, most likely the type to read everything and could stare at a painting for hours like he could. He thought about Marie’s friends like Blake, he could just avoid Blake if they hung out. Or maybe he was a nice enough person once you got to know him, I mean if Marie is friends with him then he must be decent. There was Byron, he looked kind and artistic, Percy noticed he often had paint on his hands or shirt and on more than one occasion Marie had pointed this out to him. He also saw Byron and the rest of the painters in the park on his way to work sometimes, and Percy wondered what it would be like to discuss art with him. Then there was Oscar, Percy wasn’t too ashamed to admit he was a bit afraid of Oscar who was one of the tallest people Percy had ever seen. But Oscar was always reading, in fact looking back on it now Percy was sure he had never seen Oscar without a book, even that one time at Pride. Then there was Kamila, nearly all the boys and some of the girls in his class had a crush on Kamila and he didn’t blame them. She was the definition of free spirited and just breathed life, she always wore bright outfits and made people laugh. Kamila was the sort of person you want to be your friend, Percy knew Kamila more than anyone else because Kamila was friends with Percy’s sister, Asha. Marie also hung out with Georgiana, whom Percy knew vaguely because one of his flat mates from last year had dated them. But most of all he wanted to be friends with Marie, she had so much in common with him. He looked back over to Marie to see her back at work and decided he was going to do just that, he was going to make Marie his friend.

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