Tevin hadn't expected a notification so soon after his pitch. He arrived back home to instantly hear his phone buzzing in his slacks. He threw his hoodie on the arm of the couch.
Subject: go away
"We're not joining your thing, don't come back to my house."
Tevin stared at the message for a long time, feeling his limbs turn cold in disappointment. This might've been his only link to starting a coven of his own. He didn't have friends to ask or people he trusted, all he had was this tip from Maggie and he'd blown it. His forehead hit his phone in his hand with a plastic thunk.
The grandfather clock ticked by in the background, steadying his heart and helping him think clearly with its methodical tick tick tick.
He wasn't finished.
Opening his eyes and lifting his head he took a deep breath. It was clear Mesa didn't take his idea seriously and he didn't blame her. He'd been immersed in the reality of the craft since childhood, but for the outsider, it must look like foolishness at best. He’d prove her wrong.
Unlocking his phone again he cracked his fingers and typed his response.
Open Email Reply
Subject: go away
“I get that you don’t trust me .”
He looked at the message with a criticizing eye. Should he be less casual? He was trying to network after all. He decided to rewrite it in a more professional tone.
“Mesa, I respect your apprehension in joining my coven, however, I don’t think you were given all of the relevant facts before making your decision. If you would let me, I’d like a chance to demonstrate the nature of my offer. As per your request, I will stay away from your home, but I would appreciate it if you would be willing to discuss another meeting location where this demonstration can take place.”
He kicked his feet up on the couch as he wrote, twisting his hair in thought. No matter how he wrote it he sounded desperate, he wanted it too much. He decided to try an addition, something to push her.
“I’d appreciate your response within the hour, and I will consider a lack of response a refusal.”
Tevin nodded at the screen. Now he was cool, now he meant business.
“Regards, Tevin Rowan.”
Reply | Forward
He hit send without thinking so he couldn't chicken out, then he reread the email.
Oh, he sounded like such a dork.
Never in his life did he wish he could take back an action so much as this one. He highlighted the text nervously. He considered deleting the Email but he knew that wouldn’t delete it on her end. It was sent and his fate was sealed. He dropped his phone to the couch cushions and stood. He paced the blue shag carpet nervously back and forth. All he could do was wait and he didn’t have anything to occupy his mind. He considered turning on the television but the thing was ancient and the bunny ears didn’t get any good channels. It was when he was considering taking a walk that the couch buzzed behind him. He dove for the cushions, pulling the phone from the upholstery and unlocking it.
Open Email reply
Subject: go away
He stared at the Email, perplexed. That was not an answer.
Tevin put the phone face down on the coffee table and stared at it, fingers steepled and deep in thought. Tevin only spoke to Mesa once, but he noticed her not replying to her friend because he was there. Tevin could imagine theoretically, that maybe Mesa didn't outwardly invest herself in things she cared about. If that were true and theoretically he was someone like Mesa, he wouldn't feel comfortable or possibly even safe making an outward investment in something so risky, even if he wanted to. He'd have no choice but imply interest, an intentionally open-ended response. Whatever.
Tevin picked his phone back up.
Open Email Reply
Subject: go away
"Meet me behind Denny's"
He checked his calendar to where the moon phases were circled.
"This Saturday at 8:30 pm, no later than 10:00 pm"
Reply | Forward
He sent the message and went to prep for the weekend.
Hunter worked at Denny's on the weekends and had gotten Hector and Mesa free sodas while they waited. It was just 8:15 when Hector spoke up.
"Shouldn't we be waiting outside?"
Mesa shrugged, not looking up from her laptop. Hector hummed in irritation, resting his head in his hand. He watched Mesa type on her computer out of the corner of his eye before he spoke up again.
“This guy thinks he's magic?”
“You ask a lot of questions.” she spat. He tapped his fingers on the table. He was getting pretty tired of her not giving him any answers, it’s the least she could do since he agreed to come along to make her feel better.
“So you wanna join his club?” He tried to clarify some of what he already knew. She closed her eyes as well as her computer, clearly annoyed he kept interrupting.
“No, I want him to leave me alone.” She snapped. He felt a little smug smile pull on his lips as he sipped his sprite through a straw.
“So you decided to meet him at Denny’s? That’s your solution?” He chuckled. She stared down at her hands.
“He planned this, not me.” she clarified through her teeth, looking back up at him. The bell rang as the door to the restaurant swung open, neither broke their eye contact. It had been this way back in high school too, always so hostile between them. Interacting with Hector was like playing a game of cat and mouse where both people thought they were the cat. Just doing a class project with him was enough to make her sick of him forever. She supposed the eight months following where they dated on and off may have also done it.
The Denny’s was empty save for the immediate walk-in and the sparse kitchen staff, as well as Hector and Mesa of course. Footsteps were too sharp against the cheap cozy floors of the diner as someone approached their table. They both carefully broke eye contact at the same time to look, expecting to see Hunter coming over to speak to them, or maybe finally Tevin had shown up. Instead, a tall, sporty woman in bellbottoms and a uniform approached a table that wasn’t theirs. She took the order of a man in a heavy coat who sat at a booth on the opposite side of the restaurant's section. The waitress asked him several times what he wanted but they couldn’t make out his answer, just the confused repeating of the waitress. She finally relented to whatever his request had been, writing it down in her notebook.
She strode away from the lone man's table and approached them.
“Guys, I asked that guy for his drink order and he asked for a glass of wet napkins.” She whispered, eyes wide. Hector pursed his lips to hold in the laugh that tried to escape.
“Why?” he breathed. She made wild shrugging motions.
“You think I’d be over here if I knew?” She said intensely yet quietly. Mesa looked from the waitress to Hector and back. “Oh hey, I’m Harper, a friend of these guys.” She introduced herself, gesturing to Hector as ‘these guys'.
“H-hi” Mesa’s mouth felt dry suddenly, but she’d always had issues talking to new people.
“Where’s your nametag?” Hector questioned idly as he sipped his soda again.
“I think it’s in my backpack…in my car…” she adopted a thousand-yard stare as she tried to remember. Eventually, she shook her head and returned to the conversation. “You can stay until ten but after that y’all shove off so I can mop.” She pointed at them as she spoke, taking Mesa’s empty glass with her other hand.
“You mean so Hunter can mop?” Hector retorted quickly.
“Hey hey… Yes.” She admitted, “dude I hate mopping so much.”
“Why do you need two hours to mop?” Harper geared up to respond before deflating.
“Oh yeah, we close at midnight on Saturday.” She groaned, head falling back and nose wrinkling. “Ok fine eleven, but then outtie ok?” she revised.
“Yessir.” Hector gave her a thumbs up. Mesa could only nod and stare nervously at her phone as Harper strode away, and she found herself staring lightly at Harper's retreating gait. “But I don’t think we’ll be here that long.” Hector amended his sentence as his attention was drawn out the window. Mesa followed his gaze to see a relatively small young man in a hoodie and a backpack pacing the parking lot.
“That’s our cue,” she stated as she packed her laptop away in its bag and stood, Hector, following shortly after. No one mentioned it when he made a detour to refill his sprite before taking the glass with him outside.