The Character Project Writing Exercise

Writing prompt from The Character Project:

That guy. The one over there in the red shirt. He’s been in here every day this week.

“That guy. The one over there in the red shirt. He’s been in here every day this week. He bought the breakfast platter and then two coffee refills after that. He read the newspaper, three times over, but still he sat right there all that time. He didn’t leave until noon and then he came back the next day and did it all again”. Tim stopped to look at me and make sure I was listening. Tim owned The Cookin Chicken diner and treated his staff well, as I knew even though I’d only been there a short time.

“Now, it’s Saturday, we’ve got the tourists filling every seat and he’s back again, settled in like he plans to spend the whole morning today. We need to get him out of here. He can’t take up a whole booth during the Saturday breakfast rush. Can’t you just accept his proposal and take him away? I’ll even give you the rest of the day off. Heck, I’ll give you the whole weekend just to get rid of him!”

Tim was looking pretty grumpy. It suited him. He has one of those dark, scruffy faces that look so well on male models and actors. Tim looked good too. I’d been trying to get him to look at me as more than just another waitress but it wasn’t working. Instead, it was Jim, Tim’s twin brother, who kept noticing me, sending me longing looks and expensive flowers.

Not that Jim wasn’t a good guy, he just wasn’t my first choice. For one thing, he was a widower with six kids. Six kids were kind of intimidating. I’d never been the type to take on something with that much responsibility. But, now, Tim and Jim were conspiring to get me to give Jim a chance. I knew Tim wasn’t really angry about his brother hanging around. Though it was true that Saturday is busy and the diner was getting really full with a line up out the door.

Still, I really think it was a bit extreme and desperate for Jim to propose marriage the first day he met me. Tim said not to take it seriously, that he’d already asked almost every single woman in town and was just trying it out on me cause I was a new face in town. But, still, it’s not quite the usual pick up line.

Jim finished his coffee and began clearing his own table. I guess he knew Tim was about to ask him to move out and let customers have the spot. I watched Jim clear the table, he looked sad, like someone who was giving up on something. I felt kind of bad. Tim promised he wasn’t an axe murderer, just a bit of a geek. Really… a weekend off work would be kind of nice. I still hadn’t gotten used to standing all those hours and the tourists could be pretty demanding as customers.

Tim was frowning down at me, not quite glaring, yet clearly wishing I’d take his brother out of his hair. Jim came towards us, about to walk out the door. Maybe an opportunity for a good guy after all the times I’d said I never met any good guys. I took a deep breath, held it a second and then, just as Jim stepped past us I reached out and took hold of his jacket. Suddenly it all felt right. He felt the tug on his sleeve and looked back at me. I smiled up at him. I never noticed Jim had that twinkle in his eyes before. Tim didn’t have that.

“Let’s blow this chicken stand, Jim.” That was all I needed to say. Jim had the biggest puppy dog look of happiness then he took my hand and escorted me out of the diner.

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