A/N: Written for the Rock On! TwiFicPics weekly challenge, inspired by a great banner by Vican, this is just a short one-shot. :) I'll post the full-size banner in my cabin - the link is in my profile. :)
Girls Like You
She wasn't the kind of girl you noticed, really, unless you paid close attention. I probably wouldn't have seen her at all if she hadn't made her presence so instantly, heatedly viable.
It was the coffee. In my lap. Then, the fire of her blushing cheeks. Between the pain of the one and the sweet surprise of the other, I had no choice but to notice her.
She was a student at the university, I guessed from the messenger bag I'd seen. I'd graduated from there the year before and was working for my dad's architectural firm. But that's just what I did to pay the bills. In my heart and my soul – oh I knew I had one, because it throbbed, sometimes, with an edgy ache – I was a songwriter. On my lunch hour, I had made it my thing to go to the coffee bar, a Starbucks knock-off, and doodle the notes in my head, the lyrics that swirled there. Sometimes, they went together.
That was golden, when it happened.
I didn't know her name, the blushing, clumsy girl who had stumbled her way into my world. Thick sable hair caught the rare Seattle sunshine, her sunglasses flashed as she chanced a look in my direction. She always looked so purposeful as she moved about on her afternoon errands, but she found time to smile at people around her. A quick lift of her chin to the street musician as she tossed a couple of bills in his guitar case, a grin at the briefcase-wielding grandfather who was dashing against traffic, or …
The smile – shy and sweet – she might bestow on a guy whom she had bumped into once. A guy who became fascinated with the sunshine she brought to the street around her.
She wasn't there for a week – Spring Break, I knew, took many of the students to their families – and I missed her. Missed her in a way that brought that strange, longed-for pain to my chest, that made words slide into my mind...
Something that slipped and smoothed, something that sparkled and shone, a living smile. A breathing moment of pure happiness...
I wrote it in an afternoon, the music falling from my fingers like magic when I was supposed to have been working on the elevations for a new housing development. It happens that way sometimes – inspiration catches fire and burns until I've given it everything.
I called the song My Belle – pretentious, I know – and cut a demo at my friend Jasper's studio. He played bass for me and sang a harmony I didn't know I needed until he offered one.
School started again and my Belle, my blushing muse, was back in town. I had to say something – I couldn't just let this thing get played on the air and not tell her.
"Hey!" I called the first day I caught the gleam of her hair and the slightly faltering bob of her head amongst the patrons of the coffee shop. Half a dozen people froze, but I ignored them and wove through the crowd to get to her side. "Hey. I'm Edward. Edward Masen."
Her cheeks pinked up again and I saw her swallow before gamely tossing a smile on her face. "Oh, with Masen and Masen, Architects?" she asked, indicating the building next door with a tilt of her head. "Wow, Mr. Masen," she went on as I nodded, "I am so sorry. I am still kicking myself over –"
I held up my hand. "Whoa, whoa. Forgiven. Forgotten. Uh, I just thought you should know..."
She slipped off her sunglasses and I found myself slipping into her eyes... The deepest, brownest eyes... But also, possibly the saddest I'd ever seen. My heart lurched in my chest. "What happened, my Belle?" I whispered, hardly knowing I'd spoken out loud.
Then, I felt like an ass. Where did I get off, right?
Her own expression seemed to agree with me and she sniffed while straightening her shoulders. "It doesn't matter," she snapped, turning abruptly to survey the reliable menu of the coffee bar.
I couldn't let her slip from me. Absolutely not. I lightly clasped her shoulder and bent to speak behind her ear. "But it does, my Belle," I whispered. "Didn't you know? Guys write songs about girls like you. It matters. So much."
She turned, this nameless girl I called my muse, and stared up at me, those deep brown eyes open and wide and honest and confused. I was blushing myself, now, and stammered an apology that only made it part of the way out before the glass door opened with way more energy than was normal – even for lunch hour.
"Edward! Edward! That demo! They just called. It's gonna go live right the hell now!"
With a laugh, my exuberant and well-connected friend got the barista to find the radio station he'd sent the demo to: KEXP, the indie rock station in the city.
It was a moment out of a movie, maybe. The moment that the sides of the film fade out and the camera focuses tight on the two faces of the hero and the heroine.
"And here, something new for your lunchtime sprawl: "My Belle."
The amazement of hearing my voice – my voice – over the radio sent goosebumps over my skin. I had an open-mouthed grin on my face that Jasper caught with his cellphone. All of that – I remember. But mostly, I remember the way the girl in front of me wiped light tears from her cheeks and kept her eyes on mine.
"What's your name? I've gotta know," I murmured, my breath coming shallow and fast as the song ended and the patrons around us laughed and whistled and clapped in a growing crescendo of approbation – for me, the music or my muse, I didn't know nor care.
It's been three years and she still has sunshine in her smile.
Just FYI: I will be on hiatus for the month of June. See my profile for more details. See you in July!