As Eric approached the woman, he sensed her awareness of him, as well as a distinct desire to be left alone. He didn’t take offense at her attitude towards him, but enjoyed the opportunity to annoy her even further.
“Excuse me?” The woman looked up at Eric from her thin glasses. “I think you dropped this on the floor.”
She shook her head, and looked back down at the newspaper lying on the table, her mute response as loud as an abusive dismissal.
Eric smiled, and laid the pen on the table. “Know what? I want you to have this. Yours to keep.” He now saw what looked like fear creep onto her face, as she reluctantly glanced at the thin plastic biro on the table.
He decided he hadn’t had enough fun yet. “You could say thank you.”
She looked up at him with pleading eyes a moment, before relaxing and, with a meek voice, said, “Thank you.”
It was as if her voice had the force of a thunderclap. Eric’s head snapped back, his eyes widening, and he responded reflexively, as if his words were being dictated to him — “I know you.”
For just an instant, anxiety returned to the woman’s face, followed by a polite smile. “No, I don’t think so.”
“This is weird,” Eric pressing a palm on the newspaper in front of the woman. “It’s like, I haven’t seen you before, but for some reason you’re entirely familiar to me. I feel as if I should know who you are.”
“I’m sorry, but you’ll have to excuse me.” The woman picked up a purse lying on the bench next to her, then opened it and retrieved a few bills, laying them on the table. “I need to get going.”
Eric followed her with his eyes until she left, then was immediately distracted by Kate’s offer of a lift to campus. Minutes later, he left the diner, and would not realize he was missing his notebook until that evening.