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((Raina Rose continued from People II 2: Still Peoplin'))

Raina alternated between fiddling with her phone and her napkin, glancing up at the front window of the Starbucks every so often to scan the parking lot for any sign of Cris. It felt dumb to anxiously wait on him, she knew he'd come, but still...

The truth was, she'd missed him. They hadn't seen much of each other in the past few weeks, and that had suited her fine for a while, but then the longing that always drew her back to him kicked in again. She liked to tell herself that he probably missed her just as much after a while and that he was just too lazy or unmotivated to get around to calling her first instead of the other way around. Sometimes she believed it.

Raina wasn't sure that she loved Cris. Half the time, she felt like she didn't even like him, as much as his issues weren't his fault and as much as she tried to be understanding. Before she'd really known him in just about every way you could know someone, Raina had thought that she'd be ace at handling someone with depression. Then reality had decided to come along and knock her right on her ass, as it tended to do. For one thing, in order to help somebody out with their depression, they had to actually admit to you that they were depressed instead of insisting that they just "saw the world as it really was". She was certain that Cris wasn't actually dumb or delusional enough to buy into that, he knew he had a problem, but he never wanted to talk about it.

Instead, he'd just go off to smoke and throw himself into baseball, and they'd bicker about it, and sometimes stop talking for a while over it, until something pulled them back together again and it started all over.

It was draining, yes, but Raina didn't yet feel ready to give up on him. Maybe part of that was what she thought a future with him could be like, if he'd just get his act together.

She'd thought about it, of course. Raina didn't intend to marry young, or maybe marry at all (and let's not even get into the topic of kids), but she thought that it was probably the rare teenage girl who didn't look at someone once in a while and wonder what their names would look like together. She didn't go around doodling "Raina Luz" on her notebooks or anything, but she had thought about it.

It was just so frustrating to not be able to read what he really thought of her. Cris was old before his time, and with his mind stuck in the past and his heart firmly belonging to baseball, any thoughts of his future that included her never made it out in the open, if they existed at all.

But here she was anyway, waiting on him. Starbucks wasn't private and it was hardly romantic, but it was comfortable enough for them to sit and talk to each other and see if they maybe couldn't move things back into the "on-again" side of their on-off relationship.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."

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