Post 9: A Way to Say “I Love You”

Today’s prompt comes from the Inspiration for Writers Facebook page.

Prompt: She stifled a laugh. “He doesn’t say ‘I love you’ like a normal person. He expresses his affection through…other means.”

***

“It’s so odd,” Leana said as she stirred her coffee. “All this time I thought I needed to hear him say those three words out loud. But once I started to actually pay attention to what he was doing instead of concentrating on what he wasn’t saying, I could see he’s been saying it for months.

“You mean to tell me you’ve been dating him this long and he’s never said ‘I love you” out loud?” Sierra gaped at her friend.

“He doesn’t have to. Not now that I’ve learned to read him.”

“I don’t think I could have stayed with a guy as long as you have without him saying it to me. I would be worried he was cheating.”

Leana stifled a laugh. “He doesn’t say ‘I love you’ like a normal person. He expresses his affection through… other means.”

Sierra raised an eyebrow and sat back. “Guys can still pretend to be affectionate while getting something on the side.”

“Oh, I’m not talking about cuddling and kissing.” Leana waved a hand as if swatting a fly from her face. “Although the kissing is pretty nice.”

“Okay, then. Give me some examples.”

Leana took a long sip of her coffee and kept the mug raised to her face while she thought. The steam from the hot liquid painted a dancing fog on her glasses. There were so many things to chose from.

“Okay,” she said, setting the mug down on the wooden table with a thunk. “If he comes over and it’s snowing, he will clean off my car before he leaves.”

“I’ll admit that’s nice, but it’s not enough to convince me.”

“Last spring I mentioned I was excited for the apple trees to start blooming. He brought me sprigs in a vase that were starting to bud so I could watch them open.”

Sierra grunted. “Okay, so he listened once and happened to remember something for a week. Big deal.”

“He did it this spring, too. Without me saying anything.” Leana sipped her coffee and looked Sierra in the eye. “I’d say that’s more than a week.”

Her friend huffed and folded her arms, bracelets clinking together. “Fine. I’ll let you get away with that one.” She picked at the table a moment. “I’m still not fully satisfied, though.”

“He rubs my feet. Without me asking him to.”

“Nu-uh. Don’t lie.”

Leana shook her head. “I’m not lying. He’ll just randomly do it. My feet won’t even be near him.”

“Okay, okay.” Sierra held up her hands in surrender. “I guess actions speak louder than words in a positive sense sometimes, too.”

The women sat in companionable silence for a while, sipping their hot drinks, and watching the foot traffic that passed on the trail below the deck of the coffee shop. Leana’s spoon clinked against her mug occasionally as she tried to keep her sweetener from condensing at the bottom. Meanwhile, Sierra simply held her cup, enjoying the warmth on her fingers.

“Oh man, this coffee is really getting to me,” Leana said with a wince. “I’ll be right back.”

Sierra wiggled her fingers at her friend in farewell as she hurried into the cafe. Once Leana was out of sight, Sierra began turning their conversation over in her mind. It was wrong, she decided, that Leana and Martin had been together for almost two years and he hadn’t said “I love you” out loud. The next time she saw him, she would give him a piece of her mind.

But maybe Leana was right. Maybe Martin was actually telling her he loved her without words. But, in Sierra’s experience, men only did nice things when they felt guilty. Nice actions meant they were saying “I’m sorry” without saying it out loud. She wondered what Martin could be feeling so bad about. Taking a big gulp of her tea, she decided she would find out.

“Did you see that there’s going to be an acoustic group here next week?” Leana said, returning from the restroom. “They won’t be here on our normal day, but it could be fun. Do you want to meet up on that day, too?”

“I’m not really in to acoustic stuff. Besides, I think I’ve got stuff scheduled for that day.”

“Oh, right. I forgot you don’t like guitars if they don’t scream.”

The friends laughed together and continued to discuss their music tastes, even though they hadn’t changed from the last time they’d gotten together. When that conversation had run its course, Leana went back inside to get another tea for Sierra and a coffee for herself. They enjoyed a few more minutes of small talk before they were interrupted by a chime from Leana’s phone.

Leana made a face while checking the notification. “My time’s up. I have to get ready for that stupid business trip.”

They said their goodbyes and Sierra was left alone with her thoughts once more. Deciding she didn’t want to sit and do nothing by herself, she finished her tea and headed inside. After returning her mug she rummaged in her purse for her credit card to pay her bill.

“You’re tea’s already been paid for,” the cashier told her.

Sierra paused her search. “I’m sorry, what?”

“Your tea,” he said. “Your friend already paid for it. Both cups.”

“Why would she do that?” she wondered aloud.

“Good friends do that sometimes,” the cashier answered. “It’s a way to say ‘I love you’ or show they care.”

Sierra resettled her purse on her shoulder. “Well, thank you. See you next week!” She waved over her shoulder as she pushed through the entrance of the coffee shop.

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