Eulalia had purposefully picked a table in the corner that allowed her to face the rest of the room while having two walls behind her. No one could come up behind her and startle her and she could easily see anyone heading her way and attempt to avoid conversation by ducking behind her computer and pretending she was busy. It was a good coping mechanism with not wanting to talk to most people or at least that was Eulalia’s opinion on the matter.
She’d finally gotten herself engrossed with the show she was catching up on when she reached out to pick up her chai tea and realized it was empty. That was enough to bring her attention out of the show and back to reality. She let out a little annoyed sigh and stood, jerking her headphones out of her ears with a wince as she did so. She looked around, her cheeks already flushing with embarrassment, to see if anyone had noticed. A few people were looking at her and she quickly averted her gaze, hastily trying to get her headphones coiled on top of her laptop. After a few moments of struggle she just left them where they were and made her way back into line at the counter. The little cafe was busy but mostly with people just grabbing their order and going so she didn’t feel too worried about leaving her stuff. Not to mention it was within her line of sight the entire time anyway.
She was focusing on the board trying to memorize her order so she wouldn’t stutter over it and get it wrong again when she heard her name called from behind her. The sound practically caused her to jump out of her skin as she turned with wide eyes to look behind her. She could already feel her heart both sinking and galloping a mile a minute, neither of which was an enjoyable feeling. The voice was masculine and slightly familiar but the face, when she saw it, brought a blank to her mind.
“Ah yes?” The words came out more as a question then she meant it to, which made her cringe. She was still groping for a name and bringing up nothing. She knew this guy was a friend of her brother’s that she’d been introduced to one or maybe two times before but that was all she was getting.
“It’s good to see you again!” Mister Nameless came up towards her with arms outstretched. If Eulalia could have she’d have stepped back up she was frozen to the spot and wound up giving the guy an awkward one armed hugged.
“Oh, um, you too?” Oh god there she went again speaking in questions instead of sentences, she really needed to stop doing that. At least she hadn’t stuttered just yet! That was a blessing from whatever god was watching over her right then.
“How have you been?” Mister Nameless was beaming at her as if nothing was wrong and somehow that made it worse. Could he tell she didn’t recognize him and was gloating about it? Was he going to tell her brother about how awkward she was later? Her brain was certainly working perfectly if in a negative spiral of anxiety even if her mouth seemed almost glued shut.
“Oh, you know good.” Ah, that time she managed to make it a statement and not a question. She paused and god was she pausing too long? Before she realized it was probably polite to ask in return even though she wanted to turn away instead. “So, how about you?” And wasn’t that just the worst having to come up with a way to ask the same question that wasn’t just a parroted repeat of the way the other had asked it first? If it wasn’t then she didn’t know what possibly could be.
“Well I’ve been out of the state for the last few weeks visiting with family, you know how it goes.” Mister Nameless started prattling on and Eulalia could feel her palms growing sweaty. He was still talking but Eulalia had accidentally tuned him out and, with a guilty start, dragged her brain back to focusing just in time for the next dreaded question. “How has school been going?”
She gulped and for a moment forgot what her major even was much less how class had been going. “Oh, school?” Why had she said that? She sounded like an idiot. “It’s, uh, been good. I’m almost done. You?” Why did she just ask you with no context? That had to be confusing and she dropped her gaze quickly to avoid the strange look she knew Mister Nameless had to be giving her.
And now he was laughing and she had to physically stop herself from cringing because that couldn’t be good, right? He had to be laughing at her and what she’d said. She barely managed to peek up at his face before her eyes riveted themselves to the floor again. “If you mean how school is going for me,” Mister Nameless said, and was that a mocking tone in his voice or just condescending? “Well I graduated a year ago so I’ve been out of that loop for a while. Finals getting to your brain Eulalia?”
“Ah, yes… that must be it,” she mumbled, inching forward in line. She was almost desperate now to get to give her order and scurry back to the safety of her table. “So, um, how was the weather for your trip?” That was an appropriate question to ask someone who’d just recently been on a trip, right? Or was she supposed to ask about what he’d done? She never could rightly remember.
“Good, good.” Mister Nameless waved a hand to indicate that the last person in front of them in line had already moved off. “Why don’t you let me treat you and we can chat a bit more?” He gave her a bright smile and again her brain told her that he had to be relishing in her awkwardness to be smiling at her because what other reason could there be?
“S-sure.” She managed to mumble out even though she desperately wanted to shout the word no and make a break for it. She turned to the barista and managed to mumble out her order after a few tries. She stepped back while Mister Nameless ordered and paid, dreading when he’d turn around.
Oh god, was this ever going to end?