Crosswalk Staring

A mid-morning coffee break takes an unexpected turn at a crosswalk.

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anonymous pedestrian walking on zebra crossing

It’s 10 a.m. and I am seriously craving coffee. I push back from my desk and grab my rain jacket. It was raining on my way in this morning. Who knows what it’s doing now.

The elevator seems slower today. I hope it’s not broken. Not again. My mind races ahead drawn by the smell of freshly ground arabica beans and the first sip of hot elixir.

Outside the office building, I head toward my coffee shop. I don’t own it but I might as well, I spend enough money there. The baristas know exactly what I want and consistently deliver a beautifully poured latte every time.

I pause from my coffee fantasy to press the crosswalk sign. It’s foggier than it was a little earlier. The orange warning indicator across the street glows through the mist, taunting my desire for caffeine. My impatience grows, waiting for the bright white indicator to beckon me across the white slashed pavement and the coffee shop just beyond.

A man in his early thirties brushes past me, a toddler in his arms. He clutches the child to him, the little girl is facing me, looking over a well built shoulder. Even under the quilted jacket it’s obvious I’m looking through to muscle.

Time stops as I stare back into the brown eyes of the curly headed cherub. She stares nearly unblinkingly directly at me too. I have to confess I don’t stare at her for long.

My eyes jump to the size 11 Cole Haan leather sneakers her dad wears. Is it her dad? He certainly seems like he could be a father. My eyes follow up the lines of his calves and quads. His thighs fill out the casual work trousers, leaving little to the imagination as to what lies beneath the mint slate grey cotton.

His hair, a chestnut brown with natural highlights, catches the diffused morning light and begs to be touched. The curls, not unlike the toddler’s, seem to have been styled with his fingers as he picked up the child and headed outdoors for a walk.

He turns and kisses Emily. It’s obvious she’s a daddy’s girl. As he turns his head to touch her nose with his, I catch a glimpse of dark curly eye lashes framed by equally dark beautiful brows. A striking silhouette.

He’s walking now. All thoughts of coffee are gone. I stand on the curb staring as he crosses the street in front of me. I’m glued to this spot, caught in his spell and he doesn’t even know it.

I force my eyes to the crosswalk sign and see the numbers counting down. I shake myself and quickly stride across toward the other side, making sure to step over the maple root that’s encroaching the far sidewalk.

I look back up and catch a glimpse of them disappearing into the coffee shop.

This short story is part of a daily 36-minute freewriting exercise I’m committing to. I used the following prompts:

  • Character: A toddler
  • Action: staring
  • Setting: a crosswalk
  • Phrase: “Not again”

Also, the phrase doesn’t have to be used as a quote…and none of the prompts have to be literal. We’ve had some weird stuff show up that’s half the fun lol.