Eavesdropping

Last semester, one of my fiction professors assigned the class an eavesdropping assignment. That night, I was reading in the library when an unhappy couple caught my attention.

I raised my head from my book as I heard feet shuffle across the carpet. It was just about midnight, and I hadn’t seen any other students in the library’s basement. I sat cross-legged on a chair, one elbow leaning on the round table, the other on the corner of my open book.

A sigh came from between two shelves. “I can’t believe this.”

A short guy with black hair shook his head as he looked up. He held a cup of coffee in each hand and his jeans swished around his sneakers. He tucked his chin downward to sip from one of the white cups as he headed to one of the fluorescent-lit study carrels.

He gently kicked the green door, and it squeaked and swung back into a blue chair that was in the way. Next to the chair was another chair, where a girl with puffy chestnut hair in a dark sweatshirt and blue pajama pants sat. She slouched across from her laptop that was surrounded by packets of paper and a notebook.

“You’re so lazy. I can’t believe you couldn’t get your own coffee,” the guy said as he handed her one of the white cups. “You made me go all the way to Starbucks and come back here. You’re so lazy.”

“I’m sorry,” the girl said, sitting up straight to sip her coffee. She kept her eyes on her laptop screen.

The guy pushed back the chair next to her, as if to sit, but he didn’t. He stood there and looked at her with his arms out. “You are so lazy.”“I have a lot of work to do, I’m sorry.” She avoided eye contact. Her hand was clenched around her cup.

“Fuck you.”

He walked out, shaking his head. “Ridiculous,” he whispered.

The girl laughed.

The guy made it a few bookshelves down before turning around to go back into the study carrel to kiss her. It was only a peck. Then he said, “You really don’t think you’re lazy?”

“This is a lot to do.”

“No, it’s not.” His eyes scanned the papers scattered on the desk in front of her. “I can’t believe I got you coffee.”

“I didn’t want to leave my stuff.”

“You thought someone would take your stuff if you went to the Hub for two minutes?”

“I don’t know.”

“You are so fucking lazy.”

She laughed. “I’m sorry.”

He put down his coffee and snatched a packet next to her laptop. “When was this assigned?”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?”

“I don’t know. Last week?”

“I don’t feel bad for you. Whose fault is this?

“I didn’t get enough sleep last night.”

“You slept for eight hours.” He slammed the paper to his hip. “This should have been over and done with.”

She looked up at him, a hint of a smile in her stare. He inhaled, and his exhale turned into a sigh.

“Help me?”

He sat down beside her, eyes on the first page of the packet.

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