Conversation in a Dream
By Maureen

***

*Sign language*

Maureen or Lauren as she is referred to in real life, sat in the back room in the coffee shop, talking animatedly to some of her friends. Her boyfriend was not there because he had a test to study for, although it was rare for either to miss a night.

Every Monday night they went to the coffeehouse to just hang out with friends and to practice their sign language. Josh, the aforementioned boyfriend, was fluent, but was trying to reconnect to Deaf culture. Lauren was just learning.

She had been coming to the coffeehouse for months and she knew all of the 'regulars'. In fact, she had recently learned that the ASL students from the university also considered her a regular, something she was proud of.

*You have to read Raymond E. Feist!* she said to one of her fellow book-a-holics. *He is one of the best fantasy writers I've ever read.*

*Fine, but only if you read Anne Rice's newest, Merrick,* he replied. Their discussions always went like this, trying to one-up the other in book knowledge. So far, they were evenly matched.

*So then, I'll see you and Vonnie at Borders Wednesday night?*

*7:00,* he replied, grabbing his hat and novels. He rarely stayed too long, but their book excursions were nearly something of legend. They would tear through the bookstore du jour, leaving piles of books and very harried employees in their wake. For this reason, they waited a month before returning to a bookstore, hoping that they wouldn't be recognized.

Maureen turned around to face the main conversation again. She understood more sign language than she could sign, but she was still slow. Having Josh around to translate made her life much easier.

Standing in the door was a new guy, and from his expression, he was more than a bit lost. He didn't head towards the ASL students in the corner, yet didn't seem to recognize anyone either. And since he didn't carry a backpack with him, he wasn't a student who stumbled into the twilight zone while searching for a study nook.

He sat down in front of one of the windows near Maureen, watching the conversation intently. He looked familiar, but she couldn't place from where. Probably from Manzy, her dorm from last year, with close to 1000 people living there, it was easy to forget a face.

She sighed. She just wasn't able to figure out what they were talking about. That's what she hated about not being in ASL classes, she just wasn't learning enough vocabulary fast enough, but, she reasoned, she was learning useful words instead of all the kitchen utensils.

The guy behind her tapped on the shoulder, *You understand?* he asked, gesturing to the conversation.

*No, you?* she replied, trying to remember where she had seen him before. It wasn't often that she ran into drop dead gorgeous rebel-type guys who knew sign language. Or who wore leather jackets with EMT patches on it…

EMT patches. Deaf. Knows sign. Oh crap.

*You're Jamie Waite, right?* Lauren said, hoping he wouldn't recognize her as Maureen. The problem was that 'Lauren' and 'Maureen' had two different, although similar, styles of clothing. Tonight she was wearing her favorite low-rise jeans with a green ribbed shirt, complete with little snaps going up the front like in the 80's.

*Yes…* he replied cautiously. He was new to the area, and had never been to the coffee shop before. *How do you know me?* he asked, even as recognition dawned. "You're Maureen!" he exclaimed out loud.

*No!* she denied vehemently, *My name is Lauren!.*

*Don't give me that crap! You're Maureen! The evil one who did this to me!*

*No!* Maureen denied again, although for a different reason, *Your father did this to you. I just wrote the story. Besides, I've given you some happiness too.*

*You mean being a teenage father? Or perhaps an immortal destined for loneliness and solitude, never quite fitting it?*

Maureen didn't quite understand all the words, but she got the gist of it. *I write what comes to me, blame the muses, not the vessel through which they channel.* she didn't believe that rhetoric and from the look on Jamie's face, neither did he. Of course, she knew she wasn't very nice to her 'characters' and it was only fair that they call her on it.

"Really? Well you certainly fooled me!" Jamie said sarcastically.

Lauren shrugged and looked at her watch. Nearly 10:30. She picked up her heavy black messenger bag, and stood. *I'll see you later,* she signed, heading out.

Jamie stared back at her, dumbfounded. She really didn't seem to care that she was causing him and his friends ungodly amounts of pain and suffering. "Evil, evil woman!" he cursed her under his breath.

She heard and smiled to herself, thinking, I've still got it.

Maureen stopped in front of the window Jamie was leaning against, tapping on it.

Jamie turned around, *What?* he asked, obviously annoyed.

*You gotta be cruel to be kind, in the right measure, cruel to be kind is a very good sign, cruel to be kind means that I love you baby…* she signed quickly, before heading down the street.

Time to go write another chapter.

AN: yeah…I'm weird. And I didn't even spill the coffee. The thing is, I don't drink coffee. I usually go and don't get anything at all. So nyah to everyone who thought I'd spill something.