Sorry for posting late, I literally JUST got wifi. Should this be a series?
He comes out almost every night.
The first time you noticed, it was merely a passing thought, an observation followed by “huh, okay,” before other more immediate problems crowded it away. When you first moved into this flat fairly high above the sprawling London Metropolitan, you’d seen him around, doing those silent I-acknowledge-your-existence nods to him once in a while. He seems like a nice enough guy, his blue eyes smiling along with a dimpled grin whenever you do initiate those nods. But it never got beyond that.
But now that the first observation has been made about your fellow balcony neighbor, the thought now continues to niggle the back of your mind whenever you look outside to he him lounging on his piece of protruding ledge.
Eventually, the thought progresses from a mere fleeting idea into something developed: Why?
That’s the question that finally drives you out tonight. You step outside, a faint breeze raising goosebumps on your arms. Funnily enough, it seems like the stars have migrated to the ground; the stars are cloaked up above, but each light twinkles down below, and you let the sound of the city wash over you.
You glance to your right, resting your forearms against the cold, iron railing. Well, he’s not out here for a drag, and a part of you breathes a sigh of relief.
You worry your bottom lip at what to say. Nice night out? No, too lame. Calling to the motherboard? No, that just makes you sound weird. So, watcha doing? No, now you just sound nosy.
God, you suck at starting conversation.
You start a little, turning to your right. The guy lounges on a white, plastic chair, his long legs pushing it onto its two hind legs. There’s a notebook in one hand, a pencil in the other, and a phone balanced carefully on his lap. Tortoiseshell-colored glasses perch on his nose, periodically sliding down before he shoves them back up. It doesn’t strike you how cute he is until you’re left staring.
“Oh, hi,” you say a beat late, nervously tucking a strand of hair behind your ear as your heart starts to hammer in your ears. Honestly, you haven’t thought this far yet. Just attempting to talk to him created enough anxiety as it was. “Uh–”
“What are you doing out here?”
It wasn’t a demanding question, but rather one filled with curiosity and slight confusion. You fight back a smile. “I could ask the same. You come out here a lot.”
Your neighbor quirks an eyebrow at you. “So you’ve noticed?”
You merely shrug, though you’re glad it’s so dark; the last thing you need is for him to see your blushing face. “Hard not to. People tend to notice things that are out of the ordinary.”
Your neighbor chuckles, a deep, warm sound that causes a flip in your stomach. What’s going on? You were just curious…
“Just… writing.” Your neighbor lets the chair fall back on all four legs, the clack echoing off the edifice. “I find it easier to think out here.”
“Are you a writer?” You feel your heart jump in excitement. You won’t deny the fact that you’ve spent your fair amount of time imagining meeting a tall, secluded, attractive writer.
Your neighbor chuckles again at that. “Well, I majored in journalism but… no, I’m just writing some songs… and stuff.” The end of the sentence trails off into a murmur, as if he’s almost embarrassed to admit it.
You, on the other hand, tilt your head in interest. “Can I see?”
Your neighbor blinks at that, surprise filling his face. “Erm, are you sure?”
You offer him what you hope to be an encouraging smile. “Yeah! Why not? It’s not like you live that far from my place. Come over!”
Your neighbor cracks a grin, standing up. To your surprise, he tosses his notebook over, and you deftly catch it. “What–”
Your question ends in a squeak of surprise when your neighbor hoists himself up onto the ledge, the soft breeze that was gently ruffling his hair and prickling your arms seeming to pick up as he walks over the four story gap of nothingness. He casually hops down on your balcony, and you instinctively grab his arm, your heart racing.
“What the hell?!” you say, a yelp pitching your voice higher than normal.
Your neighbor quirks up a side of his mouth into a smug smirk. “Well, you did tell me to come over.”
“Not by potentially ending up as a pancake on the ground!” You shake your head, the words crazy psycho neighbor crossing your mind.
It’s not until your neighbor clears his throat softly that you realize the vice-like grip you still have in his arm. You drop your hand, a wave of awkwardness suddenly filling the air.
Your neighbor clears his throat again. “My notebook…?”
You look down to the tattered book pressed against your chest. It seems like an old thing probably more than a few years old, with the name Dan Smith written in all caps in green sharpie.
“Nice name,” you say offhandedly, opening the notebook.
Dan gives a light laugh, shrugging. “Generic as hell, I know.”
“Easy to remember,” you reply as you scan the page. The words are almost illegible, with little doodles on the side that mar the clean pages. You see a small sketch of an exploding mountain and little stick figures with terrified expressions running away. You point at the sketch. “What’s that supposed to be?”
Dan huffs out a laugh. “Just the explosion of Pompeii.”
“How happy,” you murmur, grinning as you trace the EH EH OHs that adorn the edges of the paper and grin at the X’s on the stick figures’ eyes. “This is totally going to be the next big summer hit.”
Dan watches you, fidgeting as you silently continue to flip through. “I know it’s not much, but–”
“I think it’s amazing.”
You see Dan perk up visibly at your comment. “Really?”
You close the notebook, handing it back to him. You try not to notice the way Dan’s hand brushes yours when he takes it. “I’d love to actually hear those songs sometime.”
Dan looks back out into the night. “We could call it Dan’s Balcony,” he muses, almost half to himself.
“You could play for everyone down there,” you add, and Dan laughs at that. It doesn’t escape your notice the way the laugh seems strained, nor the way his eyes flick down to his ankle-length socks. You decide to let it go.
Dan licks his lips, staring down at the notebook. “Well, I better be getting back…”
You can’t help the feeling of disappointed that pools in your stomach. You were really enjoying this, after the initial awkwardness. “Yeah… but use the doorway this time, can you?”
Dan laughs, but concedes, allowing you to lead him through your flat. You try to ignore the sudden self-consciousness you feel at the sorry state of your place. Gosh, you really need to clean up.
It’s not until the door shuts, after saying your goodbyes to your neighbor, that you close your eyes and lean against the door, slowly sliding down as you finally allow a massive smile to split open.
~~~~~ guacamolesatlaw ~~~~~