'…I got it… Hello?' Angela was surprised to hear a girl pick up her boyfriend's cell phone. Then she remembered that he had a sister.
'Yea, hey, is Tyson there?'
The girl paused, and then replied, 'Yes.'
'Mmkay,' said Angela. Nothing happened. 'Can I talk to him?' she prompted.
'Oh, yea, sorry,' the girl giggled, and then handed off the phone. Angela fingered a pen she had in her pocket while she waited. She was sitting in another one of those chain coffee-shops on a windy November day. It was about four in the afternoon, but it was so overcast you really couldn't tell. She hadn't bothered to go up to the counter to order anything yet- she was a little preoccupied.
'Hey babe, it's me.'
'Angela! What are you doin'?'
She frowned. They hadn't spoken at all over the Thanksgiving break yet, which was already half over, and all he had to say was, "what are you doin'?" 'I'm with a friend,' she lied. 'I'm drinking a caramel latté and I just ate a macaroon.' She considered herself a good liar. She had yet to decide if that was a good or bad thing.
'I see,' he said. He hadn't paid attention to a word she'd said.
'But I couldn't stop thinking of you, so I called,' she went on, hoping to get some kind of intelligent response.
'…Yea?' he answered at last. Angela felt let down. 'Listen, can I call you back in like, five minutes? I'm kind of busy right now and… I… just… you know…'
Angela nodded at nothing in particular. 'I know.' Tyson hung up. Angela laid her head down on the table and shut her eyes. She sighed and opened them again to find a caramel latté, a macaroon and a stranger's face all staring back at her from across the table. She took a deep breath and pointed at the latté. 'For me?' she asked the stranger. He smiled.
'Yup. I heard you lying to your man-friend, so I decided to help you out: now you're telling the truth,' he explained. Another smile. Angela couldn't help but like the charismatic new-comer.
'But I'm not with a friend,' she pointed out.
'That can be easily fixed,' he replied, and held his hand out over the table. 'I'm Cody. And you are…?'
Angela took his hand and shook it. 'Angela. I'm Angela. It's nice to meet you, Cody.'
'Score,' he laughed, punching a fist into the air and almost knocking his own drink off of the table. Angela could not suppress a laugh. Cody smiled sheepishly. 'Guess I should drink it before I spill it in my lap, huh?'
Angela nodded and smiled and felt very much like a bobble-headed toy. 'So, Cody, tell me about yourself. What kind of stuff do you do?'
He looked thoughtful for a moment. 'Well…' he trailed off wistfully. Angela sat patiently, slowly sipping her latté… Eventually, he came back to Earth and looked her in the eye. 'I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.' His voice was dead serious, which shocked her a bit until he broke into another one of his contagious smiles. 'I do a lot of stuff. We'd be stuck here all day if I even just started to tell you. So you go first. What is it that the heavenly Angela does?'
She giggled at the unexpected compliment. No one ever complemented her. No even, she realized with mild disappointment, Tyson. 'Between polishing my halo and flexing my wings?' she joked. 'Normally I loiter around the soccer fields after school, but we're on break and all my friends are either sick or on vacation so I'm all on my lonesome.' She didn't mention Tyson. 'That's why I came here. Why are you here, double-'o' Cody?'
He hesitated. 'That's not im-'
'SHE TOLD ME TO WALK THIS WAY' chanted Angela's cell phone. She flipped it open, nodding to Cody.
'Angela? This is Tyson.'
'I know.' She did know. She could recognize his voice anywhere. In fact, that was how she got to know him a year ago. She had seen him around school and instantly liked him. Then school let out in June. Two weeks later, a Field Day was put together by some 'super-moms,' and Angela went. She was wandering around, bored out of her mind, when she passed a bean-bag throwing stand where a little girl was crying. Something seemed familiar about the girl, and her maternal instincts kicked in, so she ended up taking the blubbering kid by the hand and leading her around the campus. The child immediately perked up. Angela started to enjoy herself and actually let the sniffling girl dunk her in the dunking booth. They were laughing and getting snow cones and still dripping wet when Tyson's voice echoed over the loudspeakers.
'Um… If anyone's seen a girl… she's eight… she's got dark blonde hair… brown eyes… I think… kind of short… she's got a cold… er, her name is Erin… she's my sister… can you take her to the front office? Thanks…' His speech seemed, to Angela, slow and deliberate, as if every sentence had unfathomable thought behind it. The kid sneezed beside her.
Angela took the girl to the office. Tyson came out, took his sister's hand, saw her smiling and stared unbelievingly at Angela. Angela wrung her wet hair out and smiled. 'I guess she doesn't smile often' Tyson shook his head. Angela saw her chance and held out her hand. 'I'm-'
She was startled back to the present by both Tyson's and Cody's voices. 'Oh, sorry,' she mumbled.
'Did you hear what I said, Angela?' pressed Tyson. She shook her head and took a sip of her latté, watching Cody absently.
'No, sorry, can you repeat that?' Cody fumbled with the lid of his drink for a bit. When it finally came off, it fell to the floor. He ducked under the table in order to retrieve it.
'Well, Angela… I love you, you know that, right?'
'Yea…' Cody sat up, dropped the lid again, and picked it up again. He slapped it down onto the table and reached for some sweetener. Apparently, he had a hard time opening those, too. He got a packet open- and immediately inhaled its contents by accident. He proceeded to sneeze rather forcefully into a napkin.
'Angela. We've been together for so long, and that's hoe I want it to be. I want you to be with me for a very long time…'
'Yea…' Cody gave on last, tiny sneeze and tried again with the sweetener. He leaned rather far backwards, holding the little packet at arms length. This time he managed to keep most of it in his coffee.
'You haven't done anything wrong…' Angela grew frustrated with the way Tyson was dragging it all out.
'What? Stop beating around the bush and tell me what you want to say,' she snapped. Her stomach was tying itself in knots. She had a bad feeling about what he was about to say.
Cody was going for the cream now. He picked up the little carton and managed to get the foil cover peeled off on his first try. He eyed it suspiciously, brought it to his nose and sniffed it cautiously. Then he stuck his tongue in it. The boy savored the flavor for a minute, a decidedly un-decided expression plastered to his face… then decided that he liked it after all. He poured three more into his coffee and looked for something else to put into it.
'Look, Angie…' She stiffened. He never called her by any stupid pet names. 'Can we take a break for a little while? I just want to… you know…?'
Angela sighed and rubbed her temples, propping her elbows on the table. 'Yea, I- no! Don't do that!' She leaned quickly over the table and caught Cody's wrist. He was on the verge of dumping a carton of grape jelly into his coffee. However, despite her best efforts, the jelly slid out of the plastic container and into his drink. A woman ordering at the counter gave Angela a strange look.
'What?' Tyson sounded mildly alarmed.
Angela laughed. 'It's okay. He can do what he wants, I guess. So you're sure you want to take a break then?'
Tyson's response was delayed. 'Yea, a break.'
'Just a break?'
'Just a break.' He hung up.
Cody was staring at Angela from across his drink as she hung up the phone and tucked it into her pocket. She closed her eyes and took a bite of the macaroon. It was good, she supposed. 'So you're Tyson's Angela, huh?'
Angela looked up sharply. 'What?'
'He talks about you every once in a while,' he shrugged.
'Are you a friend of his then?'
'You could say that.' Cody stirred his coffee. Then he pulled a pen and a flyer for a movie Angela had seen the week before out of his pocket. He ripped the flyer in half and scribbled something on one half, folding that piece in two and giving it to her. 'That's my number.'
She wrote her own phone number on the other half and pocketed both the paper and his pen. Then he stood and stretched slowly, trying to make the moment last a little longer, she assumed. 'Look,' he said at last. 'Tyson's not as great a guy as he'd like you to think.'
'What do you mean by that?' She eyed Cody suspiciously. He would not make eye contact. 'You know, it's just for a little while. I'm still taken. We're still getting back together.'
He nodded. 'Yea, but I'd rethink that if I were you. That wasn't his sniffling, snot-nosed kid sister who answered the phone, was it?' Angela didn't answer. 'Just… call him tonight at nine. If that girl answers the phone again… Call me if you change your mind, okay?' He smiled one last time, even though she refused to look at him anymore, and left.
Angela finished her latté in silence, wiped some stray grape jelly off of her fingers and went home.
That night she lay on her bed. She couldn't sleep at all. Rolling onto her side, she glanced at the clock on her bedside table. 9.06, it read. She picked up her cell phone.
'Hello?' It was that girl again.
'Yea, is Tyson there?'
'It's for you, big guy… … … Hello?'
'I want a break, Tyson. A break up.' She hung up and stared upwards at the ceiling, tracing the irregularities in the plaster with her eyes.
Now what? Should she call Cody? Had she changed her mind? She realized she didn't know much about him in the first place. He had never said anything decisive about himself.
She sat up. Actually, Cody had said some rather peculiar things. How had he known she was talking to a 'man-friend' on her cellular? For all he knew, she could have been talking to her sister, not that she had one.
He hadn't actually told her what kind of things he liked to do, let alone why he was at the coffee shop. Not to mention the awkward process of preparing his coffee. Now that she thought about it, he hadn't actually drunk any of it.
He had been vague in his relation to Tyson. And, wait—how had he known it was a girl who answered—and one other than Tyson's perpetually ill sister?
She was through wondering. She fished in her pocket and retrieved the folded piece of paper that he had written his phone number on. She pulled up the contacts directory in her phone. Staring at Tyson's name, she deleted it and selected 'NEW.' Her nimble fingers deftly typed out 'Cody.' She unfolded the scrap of flyer and stared.
It was blank.
She reached into her pocket again. She found another scrap of paper. It had her first name and cell phone number printed neatly in her handwriting. Almost frantically, she felt inside her pocket again. She found a pen- the pen she was so sure she had watched Cody pocket. The girl stared at these things in disbelief.
Finally, Angela dumped all of it on the floor and laid back. She supposed she must have lost her mind. Or perhaps she had simply changed it. Whatever the case, Angela fell asleep.