Jack London


Her eyes bounce along the lines of the menu. It's edges shielding her face, but for those magnificent brown eyes, soft, encompassing eye brows, and gently wrinkled forehead. She seems perplexed by something she's reading. My own eyes scan the menu, searching for an answer to the question which lingers on that tanned forehead.

Maybe it isn't so much a question of ingredients as a question of how those ingredients should go together to create something worth eating. I, too, have had my doubts about this place. A small cafe, new on the corner of a busy, thriving main street. Filled to the brim with people just like each other, just like me and her.

She turns the page. Entrees. Perhaps she will stay longer than I had imagined she would. Her fingers tap the edge of the menu, the guardian of her face. A glass of iced tea is set on her table by a passing waiter. She reaches for it blindly, sips, and returns it to the art deco coaster. The book she's brought with her sits idle on the table. It's frayed binding facing me, the brown and aged pages looking away. My own book rests in my hands, neglected as I read the back of her menu.

The waiter comes. She orders. She sips. Her fingers tap the table top to the tune of a familiar song. She scans the room and finds me. Alone in my corner, hands spread beneath the decaying novel. We look away. The walls are littered with art from a local; some abstract bit about a giraffe and sea glass. The floor is a black and white checkered tile. I'm sure she's noticed that, too. And the ceiling boasts exposed beams and air ducts. I finish my survey of the cafe before she does and it strikes me how beautiful her cheeks are. How perfect the rose hue.

I close my book. The burley men of the Alaskan Gold Rush clash together between the pages, the brawl separated by a slender bookmark. Something so slim separates us; something so powerfully resistant. A barrier of doubt surrounded by desire. Like those of the Yukon I harbor my courage and walk forward. Her table a claim I'd like to stake.

Those eyes look up at me; they bloom as she smiles.

"Hello."