The shiny buttons caught her eye. Silver and reflective, they stood out against the red coat wrapping the slim man in front of her. The light, orange and white with morning, played over the right side of his face and along the metal running down his front that hung toward that side. Sitting on a dark wood bench, dangling his feet, something seemed off.
Was it the way his hair fell in frayed curls around his face? Framing the strong features of a sharp nose and bushy eyebrows? Maybe the scarf tucked and wrapped high and above the collar of the coat, hiding the bottom of his chin and the entirety of his neck. Her gaze sweeped up and down, then across the body. The pads of the jacket puffed and gave a hard line from shoulder to shoulder, squaring his frame. Still, something was off. Her eyes went back to the buttons.
Another sip of coffee and she continued watching. Staring without worry, her query was staring at a brick on the ground not too far from him, avoiding the eyes of anyone who took notice. Not many did. The meek person attracted little attention besides the lady across the street. Another minute watching and she stood up and walked down the street then back up alongside the opposite front. Idling looking into shop windows before sitting down on the bench.
She felt the tension as she sat, aware of the broken social contract she made by not taking a seat on an empty bench nearby. She looked at him, head fully turned and with a coy smile leaned in.
He stiffened and turned slightly towards and away from her. "Excuse me?"
Her smile reached her eyes and she put an arm around him and lightly touched his shoulder, "You know what I'm talking about."
Hands clasped together, his back tensed under her touch as he tried to shy away from her without making a scene. "I'm afraid I don't, please leave me alone."
She slid along the bench, this time locking her arm with him. To an outsider she may have looked like an old friend trying to get a rise out of him; or a lover playfully flirting with her stoic partner. Regardless of what it looked like, the woman had one thing in mind -- her own amusement.
"Your buttons sweetie, I think you know exactly what I'm talking about."
Eyes wide and shoulders slumped, he turned away from her and shook his arm from hers as he stood. The flared cut of his coat brought imagery of a rocket blasting off to the tormentors mind. And the haughty manner in which he twirled on his heel to walk away promoted her to envision steam blowing off of him.
"Take care, honey" she laughed, catching his shamed eye as he rounded the street corner and disappeared from sight. She stood then, walking away in good spirits, her own audacity and cruelty a boost to her ego.