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  • Writer's pictureHina Siddiqui

I like you





The coffee today had a tree in winter, with a dot of blue for a bird. Tabi studied the art like he always did. Consternation. Concentration. Confirmation.


“Have you eaten breakfast yet?” Mayu asked.


He shook his head.


“Okay then, let me fix you something.”


He followed her with his eyes as she informed the counter and returned with her own cup. She sat across from him. Hands out on the table. Careful to keep her feet to herself.


“How was the meeting?”


“Fine. I’m getting a commendation for last week.”


“That’s a good thing, right?”


“Yes.”


The food was placed between them. Tuna on rye.


“You look…”

Unhappy?

Agitated?

Annoyed?

“Why do you look unsatisfied then?”


Tabi hadn’t looked up at her since she sat down. His fingers kept closing and opening around the coffee cup. And he had been frowning ever since he had walked in. He pursed his lips, glanced away. Kept his head down. She could imagine his foot bouncing beneath the table.


“It’s… It was not comfortable.”


With anyone else, Mayu would have rolled her eyes. But Tabi was awkward with everything. And the added scrutiny of seniors, even if it came in the form of praise, wouldn’t have helped.


She wanted to put her hand over his. A gesture of reassurance. But held back. Tabi didn’t take kindly to uninformed invasions of his space.


“Well, it’s over now,” she said instead. Smiling. Taking slow sips of her drink. Tabi still hadn’t touched his.


“I was… I was also distracted. I am not used to being distracted,” he blurted out.


What was distracting you?

No that wasn’t the question to ask.

Routines were important to people like Tabi.

And being called in for a meeting like this broke the routine.


“Missed your morning coffee, did you?”


He looked up. Straight in to her eyes.


“No. I missed you.”


See, the thing with Tabi was that he would sometimes say the most ridiculous things without realizing. He didn’t realize how silly or sappy or severe he sounded. Completely and genuinely honest, that was the only way he knew how to communicate.


It was the second most endearing thing about him.


The most endearing thing about Tabi, Mayu realized in that moment, was the way he slid the index finger of his left hand across the table and gently tapped on the index finger of her right. Like he was seeking permission. And when it was granted by the simple loosening of her muscles, the way he twined his finger around hers.


She curled her finger around his.


“I like you too,” she said.


He smiled. Then took the first sip of his coffee with his free hand.







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