#100ways note: A way to show that you honor someone’s personal space and time is to ask permission to “invade” their space. “Is this okay?” is asking permission to join them even just to sit quietly with them while they work on something. What you are showing them is that you want to spend time with them — as long as they’re good with that too.
This excerpt from the WIP “We Fit” has no explanation or lead in, and as such is rather short, but suffice to say, it follows a disagreement that Elena and Jess had. If I say more or include too much after the #100ways quote, too much plot will be given away. Enjoy!
“Can I sit here?”
Jess froze at the sound of that voice and turned so quickly that the deck chair started to tilt. Elena crouched, reached out and grabbed the far side, pulling it back to level. “Shit!” Jess cursed.
“I’m sorry.” Elena stepped back and straightened. Her gaze went briefly to Gus before returning to Jess. “I’m sorry.”
“What are you doing here?” Jess asked, her voice high from her scare and panic as she wondered if the woman had somehow overheard what she and Gus had been talking about.
“Eric and I… we thought… can we talk?”
The brunette was wearing a simple wrap dark and light blue dress. Patterned in light and dark blue flowers it looked more like she’d come from home instead of a night clubbing. Jess asked, “Where’d you come from?”
“Home, well… by way of the airport. Dropped Eric off for his flight.” She looked at Gus again. “Is this okay then? We can talk?” Jess finally interpreted the expression when Elena returned to meeting Jess’s gaze as ‘can we be alone?’.
A muscle ticked in Elena’s cheek as their gazes continued to hold. Then Jess saw her swallow. She sensed a subtle shift in the woman’s balance and realized she was turning away. “Wait!” Jess stood.
Elena backed up a step, again lifting her chin to meet Jess’s gaze.
“I’m … messed up,” Jess started.
“You are not messed–” Elena cut herself off even as she jumped forward. She exhaled then, planting her feet. “Look, Jess, I…I don’t want — should we do this here?”
Gus stood. Jess turned to find him shaking his head. “I gotta go,” he said.
“I still need to do laundry,” Jess said. “Wait. Elena, I–”
Elena held a hand toward Jess, looked from Gus then back to Jess. “I can take you to the laundromat. If you … well, if it’s okay?”
“Talk,” Gus said, his usual staid gruff voice punctuating the silence. Once he had finished, he grabbed up his plate and cup and walked away.
Jess turned back to Elena, studying her while her mind stopped racing. Quietly, finally, she said, “Okay.”
So what did you think? Let me know in the comments.