(From time to time, I'm going to be writing snippets based on a list of abstract prompts These characters are from the short story that will be coming out in the Circlet Press anthology Like a Spell sometime this year.)
When Callie walked into the cafe, Ari was hunched over, nose inches from the countertop, focusing on a small object in her hands. It was miserable weather - sleet and biting winds - and there was only one other customer in the place. Callie nodded to him as she crept up to the counter, keeping her footsteps as silent as possible. She still couldn’t get over her scientist’s urge to observe Ari without interfering.
She needn’t have bothered with the stealth. Ari was so absorbed in her task that Callie was able to watch for several uninterrupted minutes, even leaning so close that she could smell the other girl’s shampoo. Ari had a small square of paper that she was folding into ever smaller squares, long, slender fingers turning it deftly to and fro. When she finally stood, it was to present the finished object to her girlfriend with a satisfied smile. Balanced neatly in the middle of her palm was a miniature paper replica of Callie herself.
“You knew I was here,” Callie observed.
“Duh.” One corner of Ari’s mouth quirked upward. “Do you like it?”
Callie reached for the sculpture, then hesitated. “It’s so delicate. I’m afraid to touch it.”
Ari pulled a to go carton from beneath the counter and gently tipped the mini-Callie into it. “There.” When Callie still hesitated, she pushed the carton across to the other girl. “Come on, it doesn’t bite! It’s for you - do you like it or what?” She bounced a bit on the balls of her feet.
Callie peered into the box. “It’s beautiful. But how did you learn it? And… why?” Seeing Ari’s eyes widen in indignation, she hurried to clarify. “I mean, don’t they teach you magical ways to do things like that?”
Ari folded her arms and cocked a hip, all smug, skinny self-assurance. It was comical, and more than a little sexy. “Sure. But I like to work with my hands.”