(Another dash of fiction below!)
* * *
Eight Sketches Before Close
The line formed as a long tail connected to the leaning tower of his pencil as it glided over the page. The artist’s other hand kept the paper still. He curved the line and finished it. Having already made many smaller marks beneath it, he sketched the rest of the buffalo with as much skill and patience as ever and smiled.
The coffee shop smelled nice, with living flowers as well as coffee everywhere.
The artist took another piece of printer paper and began another sketch. A place like this could sometimes close in the afternoon and remain profitable, but Caroline’s Coffee never did. She kept it open from dawn until dinnertime, and for that the artist was grateful. He finished the second sketch, a horse, and moved on to a third.
Cold air from the winter outside blustered through the door as another patron entered. She looked to be about the artist’s age, mid twenties or so, and pretty with long dark hair, not that the artist’s mind did more than linger a little on the fine line of her jaw. He had sketches to sketch
With a few more lines he finished the third sketch, a wolf. The newcomer ordered her coffee then sat down at a table near his, facing him, with a book quickly appearing from her purse. She set the book on the table. He glanced up at her. Their eyes met and she smiled. The artist smiled back, but couldn’t help his eyes from moving down her elegant neck to her curves, then back up to that pretty face.
The fourth sketch, this one of a hawk, turned out a bit rough. Eight, the artist thought. I want eight before I have to leave. Already the sky was growing late.
The barista brought the woman her coffee.
“Why was the woman getting coffee now?” the artist wondered in silence. “Does she have a nightshift?”
His fifth sketch, when done, barely looked like a lion at all. He quickly roughed out the sixth, a monkey. That one looked even worse.
The artist sighed. All this talent, going to waste…
The woman across from him took her coffee cup in one hand, stood and approached his table. “You mind if I ask what you’re drawing?”
“This and that,” said the artist. “Animals really.”
She looked over the sketches. “These are really good! I like the monkey.”
“They ought to be,” said the artist. “I’ve been drawing for years. But I suppose its not a simple skill.”
The woman smiled at him. “Is that why you were sighing?”
The artist shrugged, nearly messing up the gesture of his hand that went on drawing the seventh sketch. “Mostly. But I do this professionally so I probably shouldn’t worry so much.”
Yet he did worry. So much.
He finished the seventh sketch, a lamb. He reached for the eighth piece of paper.
She put a hand on his reaching arm. “Hey, you want to talk?”
“I’d love to talk. But there is one more sketch to complete.”
He smiled at her. “When I’m done, we can talk.”
“Thank you,” he said.
She removed her hand from his arm. He bent his attention to the final sketch. She watched him sketch the final piece.
He sketched the woman beside him and when he was done he looked up at her and smiled.
“Now we can talk.”