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Habitual

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Maureen was a creature of habit, as much as she tried to deny it. She liked the seemingly never ending pattern of on-then-off with Joanne, the routine of flirting with Mark, just to see him look away and stop smiling when he remembered that she didn’t mean it, never meant it; even her love of dramatic scenes was really carefully constructed layers of movement upon action upon word that was familiar. Safe.

Until.

Until the day she’d cocked a hip and raised an eyebrow at Mark, inviting the (habitual) spark of hope to flare in his eyes, and he hadn’t noticed. No, he’d noticed, Mark had a filmmaker’s eye and an almost uncanny understanding of body language; he noticed everything, this was no different. He saw, he just didn’t care anymore.

Instead, he watched for the rare, quick smiles on Roger’s face, the curl of fingers in his direction that he saw and followed from across the loft, across the café, sometimes (it seemed to Maureen) across the entire damn city.

It didn’t matter, of course. Maureen still flirted with Mark in her customary style of bordering-on-the-explicit, pretending she didn’t see how Mark had never laughed that much (or that way) while with her, or that Roger’s songs shifted back to major chords whenever Mark entered the room.

As they walked down the street, she tried not to notice the way Mark’s hand brushed Roger’s arm. The way they both smiled.

But even though she didn’t want to, tried not to, Maureen could see that this was a habit that she finally needed to kick.

Originally posted: 11/21/05