fiction

notes of a voyeur

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art by poo reun

i have fallen into the habit of waiting for her in the mornings.

i like to watch her struggle with the cafe’s heavy glass doors, yellow bike helmet in one hand, large purple messenger bag slung across her chest. once inside, she scans the room and moves quickly to the table by the window, the only one with free seats, where i am. she offers me a polite smile and points to the chair opposite me. i look up from my book, feign distraction, then nod before i return to reading.

she pulls out laptop, mobile phone, and novel from her bag and place them on the table. she’s halfway through the old man and the sea. last week she was reading Henry Miller’s tropic of cancer. she opens up her laptop and orders from a hovering waitress without looking at her or the menu; but her voice is soft and low so she comes across as shy not rude. she asks for two fried eggs with toast and a large cappuccino.

a couple enters the cafe and contemplates our table with its two remaining seats. i wave them over and offer to move so they can sit next to each other. the girl removes her bag from the chair nearest her and drops it on the floor. she continues working. i settle in beside her, and we, the couple and i, smile cordially at each other but say no more. i slip behind my book and the couple peruses the menu.

the couple leaves soon after they finish their breakfast of muffins and coffee. the girl is oblivious and does not look up until she needs the loo. i am a harmless looking soul– and perhaps she recognises me as a regular– because she turns to me and asks if i could keep an eye on her laptop. i smile, i say, of course. when she is in the loo, i peer at her laptop and i’m pleased to see that she is in the process of finishing the story about an old man and his granddaughter, five years old and blind from birth. it is a simple plot and written with care. i missed a few pages but i am able to follow the narrative. i pull back just as she comes out and i watch as she approaches the cashier to pay. she decides on an orange muffin. i suspect this is her lunch.

she returns to the table and i am reading my book. she clears her throat and i ignore her. i know she wants to thank me but i feel this is superfluous as i have already claimed my payment. she has packed her things and now waits for me to look up. i can feel her stare and i wonder if she is thinking to use me in her next story.

i stand up abruptly and head to the loo.

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24 thoughts on “notes of a voyeur

  1. markrenney2 says:

    I am left wondering if this is part of a longer story but also like that this also works as a standalone piece. It is no bad thing to leave the reader wanting for more. And the narrator, unreliable or otherwise, may be female?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s fascinating to see that others believe the narrator to be male while I assumed the narrator was female right from the start! I love the space you’ve created for reader interpretation. It’s like the work is formed of layers: layers of detail, layers of fact, layers of suspicion, layers of our own ideas and assumptions as readers, layers of intrigue, layers of innocence… it’s all there. Marvellous, darling xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Noooooo. It can’t end here.

    Where’s the next page? Chapter? How do I keep reading. There is more story here, I know it I know it I know it. I’m heading down to the nearest café right now and see if I can watch the ending.

    Liked by 1 person

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