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A Hot Summer's Night
I don't really know when I first noticed her standing there, I really don't!
I didn't see her come in either. Maybe I was too involved in my coffee or maybe even the conversation going on at the time. Don't even ask me what it was about, I haven't a clue. Hell! All I know is that I looked up and looked around and eventually my eyes fell on her. She was standing there, at the counter, giving the guy a hard time on her order. I can, even to this day, hear her placing that order.
"Coffee, no cream and a iced tea with little ice. Wait, that is too much ice, a little less please."
"Picky, aren't we?" I gibed, as I went up to the counter.
Oh my God! If I could have melted under the counter I would have, with the look that I was shot.
"Do I know you?" Hard, icy blue eyes bored into my soul.
"I don't think so, but do I care?" Hard, gold eyes stared back.
Life carries on. Days, weeks, months pass, and still life carries on. This time I did see her come in though. A quiet day in the coffee shop, so everyone, in and out, is noticeable. I had a hard, dark, rich coffee that day. I don't know why I remember that, I just do. I heard the bells over the door jangle 'open', but I didn't look up right away. I wanted to finish the sentence in the book I was reading. By the time I looked up, she was at the counter placing her order. I evaluated the options and decided my book was more fun that picking sport for the day.
From the last time we spoke, I thought I was less than a speck of dirt on the floor to her. I was thoroughly surprised then, when I felt the chair sliding over the floor across to the table. Maintain calm, don't look up, don't acknowledge, finish the paragraph. I think I maintained that for all of thirty seconds and then I had to look up. Up into those icy blue eyes.
"Not so picky today are we?"
Lowering my eyes back to my book to pretend like I was reading some more. "Huh?"
Pointing to the glass. "Full of ice, not so picky today."
Seemed an eternity after I said that. Why did I? What is this desire to antagonize this woman? I don't even know her. The walls seemed oppressive just then. Terrible pictures hanging on the pale-beige walls. I think they call it 'Art'. What a subjective thing art is! Smoke haze lingering in the air between us, curling softly in the fading summer sun.
"No, I guess I'm not." With a twinkle peeking out from the corner of those eyes, now icy only in color.
Time decides to slip then. Hours pass, and the words seem only a few. Is that what happens with infatuation, does time seem to pass without knowledge? Oh, to only have those few moments back. Why is it time passed, never to be regained, is only treasured when it has gone? A movie, books, the so-called art on the walls, all of them are fair game for conversation. Nothing substantial it would seem, but at that moment in futures past it was the all. Is it possible to have someone so much the same as you are?
I have never believed in love. Make that love at first sight! To see someone and think that they are the end-all, the be-all of the universe. It is a ridiculous notion, that someone is exactly the way that you see him or her. There are three sides to every person. How you see them: how they see themselves, and how they really are. Or at least that is what I believed before that hot summer afternoon.
My coffee is long since drunk away, and the remains of her ice-cube have melted into a small puddle of water at the bottom of the glass. I notice her eyes are no longer fixated on mine, but drawing hesitantly away from them as reality steps in. A glance at the clock on the wall. A slight bit fidgeting in her seat.
"If you have to go, please don't let me keep you."
I see the hesitation in those eyes. The conflict between reality and the little pocket of time and space that we have created, right there and then.
"I don't really want to go, but..."
"No, go! I understand. It is getting late and the conversation seems to be winding to a close for right now," I said, trying to ease from the moment, with an opening for another. Another pocket in time where I could just sit and look into those eyes. Feel those eyes hunting for the remnants of my soul.
"Why don't we get together for dinner?"
My heart did a leap. Dinner with her? Dinner with her!
"I love your eyes. They are searching, I think."
Dumb thing to say. Why did I say that? I may have just blown dinner.
"You know, I was going to say the same thing. I am glad you did though."
Those eyes looked downward, the confidence leaking out into the air around us.
"I was thinking you would think I was too weird for saying that."
I can't help it. I smile, I laugh, and she looks up, a questioning look, a searching look. Am I making fun of her or what? As she looks into my eyes again, she sees it isn't making fun of her; it is a smile and a laugh of relief. She opens her purse and takes out a scrap of paper.
"Do you have a pen?"
Knowing full well that I don't, I pat my pockets anyway then shake my head 'No'.
"Hold on one second."
I sit. Like an obedient dog, I sit. She grabs a pen from behind the counter, and starts to scribble something on the paper. Recapping the pen, she drops it on the counter.
"Here you go!" I hear her voice say as she gives me the paper scrap.
A tiny, little piece of paper, torn off an envelope or something. It is like gold in my hand.
"It's my number, give me a call tomorrow."
"Okay, when would be a good time?" Can she hear the stammering in my voice? I hope not but if she does, then she doesn't seem to mind. My God! I feel like a schoolboy again. That same thrill of touching a girl's hand for the first time, the first kiss, the first glance. It is the same, and it is only a phone number!
"Oh, anytime after one," she says into my ear, as she leans forward to give me a hug.
I smell the shampoo in her hair and the trace of perfume on her clothes. I never would have thought her cheek was as smooth as that. I will have to shave before tomorrow. I want to feel her cheek against mine, without these damn whiskers in the way. Wait, maybe she likes the whiskers? I'll ask her tomorrow.
"Goodnight" I hear myself say. "Drive safe, all right?"
"Oh I just live around the corner. I walked here."
How could she walk anywhere? To me it seemed like she floated on air!
"Well then, would you like a ride? Got my car out front."
"No, thanks. I am all right. The walk is my exercise for the day."
There is that smile again, reaching to the corners of her eyes. I would never have thought eyes could light up like that.
"Goodnight" she calls back from the door.
I look at that piece of envelope, that piece of gold. I pick up my book, but how can I read?
The screeching of tires outside! I know it, even before I get up. I am up. I am running to the door.