This snippet was written ~2006ish. Found in the dusty recesses of the computer files. Might as well use it here, right? It was an exercise in POV and dialogue.
“Stop that,” the sound of her fork clanging onto her empty plate made him jump.
“Stop what?” He tried to meet her eyes, but she was looking at the noisy fork as if it had been the one to blurt so suddenly that he should stop.
“Stop…” her voice was not angry anymore, as it had so abruptly become in the moment before. Staring down at the plate, she sounded shy, vulnerable.
“What is it?” he was growing concerned, she was usually somewhat easier to understand than this. He reached across the table to take her hand – to try to pull her eyes up to meet his. But she shrugged and pulled her hands away, tucking them under the table. She pulled her arms in against her sides, though it wasn’t cold in the bar.
“You are going to rip my heart out through my nose. Like the Egyptians did with brains during embalming. You’re going to do that to my heart, and toss it on the floor and stomp on it.” Her eyes were sliding up to focus on him now, searching his face. “Stop making me fall for you,” she clarified.
“Well, I’ll see what I can do,” he wasn’t laughing, though it seemed as if they might burst into laughter if they weren’t both frightened of the consequences. “Anyway, if there’s going to be any heart-smashing going on between us, it’s going to be you doing the stomping.”
“Oh, I don’t think so,” she leaned back in her chair. “I’m falling pretty hard.” She tilted her head to one side, crossing her arms over her chest, watching him.
“Yes, sir. You are going to put me through the wringer. I might as well start crying right now.”
“Go for it.” He took the last swig of his beer, tilted the empty bottle toward the waitress as she walked past, “Cry. That will help.”
“Me not fall for you.” The fresh beer was brought, plates and noisy silverware cleared from the table. Her face did a few impressive acrobatics as she smiled and thanked the waitress, then turned to glare at him.
“We weren’t supposed to fall for each other.”
“It’s just happening”
“What the hell do we do about it?”
“Beats me.” He looked over at her half-drained bottle “Why don’t you get a beer you’ll actually drink?”
“I’ll drink this.” It would keep her mind clear to not have too many beers. “You could try not being you for a while. See if that helps.” She had a smile playing at the side of her mouth. She gave him one of those mischievous looks that was just to the playful side of seductive.
“How would I go about doing that, pray tell?”
“Well, just do or say the opposite of whatever you’re thinking.” She shrugged. “So instead of saying something intelligent, interesting or insightful, you should say something stupid or dull, or better yet, both.”
He grinned at her compliment before asking, “Are you going to do me the same favor?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, when I say something at all interesting, instead of giving a thoughtful reply, will you just let your eyes glaze over, give me a vacant stare and mumble something like ‘uh-huh.’ Or ‘gosh, you’re smart’ and then ask me if I like your shoes?”
“Do you? Like my shoes?”
“They are the same ones you always wear. They’re shoes.”
“Yes, but do you like them?”
“Are you messing with me?”
“Then I’m not going to answer that.”
She finished the last of her beer, wincing at the bitter aftertaste. “I don’t think not acting like us would help anyway,” she bit her lower lip.
“Why not? It seems to work for everyone else we’ve dated.” He didn’t want to have the rest of this conversation with her. Not tonight. Not ever. Why do they have to talk about things at all? Why couldn’t she just let things happen? Why was everything subject to analysis, scrutiny, and, worst of all, discussion?
“Because it would be too fun. It would be a game, and we’d both know it.”
“Do you have a better solution?” he sighed.
“Well, denial worked for a week or so, but now that’s not working so well anymore.”
“I don’t know. You’re the one doing whatever it is that’s making me fall for you.”
“It’s not intentional,” or at least he didn’t think it was.
“I didn’t say it was.” She looked confused, a little scared. He watched the emotions cross her face, lingering for a moment with a furrowed brow, and then disappear all at once as she smiled at the waitress and ordered them both another beer. This time she got the same brand as him. Ah. Now, we’re talking.
“You’re falling, too?”
“You’re falling, too? I mean, it’s not just me?” she looked around for the waitress, no doubt wishing for the beer to arrive before continuing, “I know you probably aren’t falling the same way I am. You know. I mean, I’m a girl. So I’m responding like a stupid girl and falling in love with you. And I know I’m falling way too fast, and way too hard. And, well, if you’re falling too, at least a little bit, well…” the beers arrived.
She took a long pull from the new bottle before she finished her thought. “If you’re falling too, then at least we’re both in the same danger. We’re both putting ourselves at risk for a broken heart at the end of this.” Her eyes were searching his face. His eyes were focused on rereading the oh-so-well-memorized label of his beer bottle.
He knew it was his turn to speak. He also recognized that this was one of those turning points of the conversation, wherein he could either end up getting in an argument, or getting laid. “I’ll jump if you jump – is that what you’re saying?”
“Yeah.” She fidgeted.
He looked up from the beer in his hand to find her startling large eyes boring into his. He shrugged. “Sure.”
She let out a deep breath, like she’d been holding it. “OK.”
They sat in silence, drinking. He tried not to hold his breath, hoping like hell that the conversation was actually finished. He tried to think of something absurd, a way to make her laugh.
“Do women really ask you whether you like their shoes or not?”