Talk to Me
I’ve decided to focus on some background stories to help character build an MC of mine. I’m going to call them the Freddie Monologues. He’s an interesting character but I don’t yet think I’ve reached a depth with him that I want to achieve.
I hope you enjoy what I come up with, and follow along with Freddie’s story.
The Jade Writer Girl.
Talk to Me:
Seventeen years old and here I am, sitting at a small, corner coffee table, glaring at the menu and praying that the waitress waiting to take my order doesn’t notice the unshed tears I’m fruitlessly trying to blink into submission.
I am not going to cry. I’m not. I’m seventeen for Gods sake. Not five. Not lost and alone without any means of communicating. No. This place is familiar. This place is safe. This menu I know like the back of my hand. Have read it a thousand times. Can recite in my sleep for crying out loud.
So why can’t I just get it out?
‘Same as usual?’ the waitress asks, clearly getting annoyed.
I don’t answer. Don’t dip my head or shake it or give any indication whatsoever that I’ve heard her. Instead I concentrate on the words.
One breakfast burger, no onion, black coffee.
Deep breath. Steady. Calm. I can do this. I can. Everyone else in this bloody cafe can do it. They’re all perfectly capable of giving their damn order without crying like a baby.
I berate myself. Are you a man or aren’t you?
I shake my head. Open my mouth and…
God I hate myself.
The menu shakes in my hands. The words distort. The white film goes blurry. I blink rapidly and pretend to cough into my elbow.
The waitress sighs. She looks irritated. No guesses why. She’s been waiting for me to say something for the last five minutes.
Yeah, well. I’ve been waiting for me to say something for the last seventeen years. She can get in line.
‘Same as usual,’ she mutters, scrawling down my order. ‘You want a coffee with that?’
Shoulders sagging, defeated, I nod. I prop an elbow on the table and watch as she walks away. When I first started coming here, perching nervously on the edge of last table in her section, she’d seemed bemused by me, almost interested.
I didn’t exactly fit in with the usual clientele of the Two Professors. My boots were far from pristine—faded red and dirt stained, my jeans sun bleached and ragged, and my shirt was not what one called “restaurant quality”.
No one I knew would ever step foot in here and that was exactly the reason I had chosen it.
Since that first day, when I’d sat sweating and shaking, declining to order for thirty minutes before bolting out of the cafe without a single bite to eat, the waitress had slowly lost interest in me.
Now I was just one of those odd, annoying customers she couldn’t seem to shake. Her apprehension and irritation with me was written all over her face, every time I stepped foot in the door.
She comes back, dumps my over-priced, too-bitter coffee on the table and says, ‘food won’t be long. I know how you don’t like to wait.’
I glance up at her but she’s already sauntering off, hips sashaying in a rather pleasing way that I might appreciate more if I didn’t feel like throwing up.
With another long-suffering sigh I stir my coffee and stare out the window. I don’t blame her for her attitude. After all, if I was her, wouldn’t I be frustrated by me? The strange boy who comes in for thirty minutes every Saturday, orders the same thing without ever speaking, and disappears before the change is barely in the register.
There are no sympathetic glances here. No understanding nods as they wait patiently for me to communicate. No side-long expressions of pity as someone else comes to my rescue.
This is what it’s like to be out on my own. To experience the world without help, without hinderance, and without the pre-determined judgement that comes from what people see. Or rather, what they don’t see.
I couldn’t complain when the waitress ended up despising me for it, could I? After all, wasn’t that why I came here?
When she brings over my plate I’m determined to give it one more go. I want to say thank you. To force the words out from my uncooperative throat and have someone other than me hear them. I want to tell her I’m sorry for being such a pain. That I don’t mean it. That I’m trying.
I catch her arm before she can disappear and she looks down at me, blue eyes sharp and bright and a little nervous. I let go, but she doesn’t leave. She cocks an eyebrow and stares at me expectantly.
My throat works. I open my mouth. I close it. I frown in frustration and wish to God that I could scream. That I could make some damn noise.
Her expression shifts back into that aloof irritation and all at once my confidence crumbles.
Without thinking, my hands make the words my throat can’t seem to manage on its own.
And there it is. Her face clears. Those eyes, sharp and observant and bluer than the sky, become soft. Her pretty pink lips relax out of the thin line they’ve been in ever since that first day. She offers me a small, uncertain smile as understanding washes over her in a sudden wave.
‘I…sorry,’ she stammers and Disappointment curls in my gut. This isn’t what I wanted. ‘I don’t know what that means. Hang on. I think…I think my boss knows sign language. Just…just wait here, okay?’
I blink at her but she’s already rushing away. I sigh. Glance down at my burger and wrinkle my nose. Covered in onions.
Before she can come back I’m out the door, a twenty dollar note left next to my uneaten burger and half a cup of coffee.
I stop around the corner, just able to make her out as she returns to my table, manager in tow, and sees my empty seat and the bill on the table. She picks up the note, stares around, peers out the window. Her boss says something. She talks back animatedly, waving her hands about and gesturing to her ears.
I shake my head, scowling and annoyed and still blinking back those damn tears. I scrub my hands over my face, run them through my hair, decide that maybe I need a haircut.
There’s a barber down the street who’s seen me regularly enough to know my usual cut. I head that way, stuffing my hands in pockets and trying not to brood.
I don’t go back to the cafe.