Part One - "Where we have been"
I loved her face when I saw it.
She looked at me and with a stern scowl shoved me back. Amidst the bustle of the busy street I was all at once offended and entranced.
"Watch out. I'm trying to walk here." She spoke in harsh tones. I stepped back and felt the hot shudder of shame that a child feels when his hand gets slapped for reaching into the cookie jar. I felt myself look down at the sidewalk. If there were a feeling for the redness in my cheeks I would describe it now.
"Don't let me be the bearer of your bad day." My slightly off kilter retort. It felt stupid. But anything I would have said would have felt stupid.
"What did you say?" She switched gears and stepped toward me. My immediate response was to step backward but in a flash of courage I stood ground.
"Don't let me be the bearer of your bad day!" I repeated and on hearing myself say it I felt silly. Nonsensical.
"That doesn't even make sense." Sweet lips parting to call my bluff. Sinking my conversational battleship.
"Haha doesn't it? Think about it!" I smiled to impart confidence. Consciously directing my gaze into her eyes. I felt it was a bold move to usurp some dominance back in our power struggle. Her eyes were strong, however. Light smokey blue. They cut my heart to look at. I felt cardiac chest pain. Numbness down my arms. Radiating pain to my jaw. Clinical signs and symptoms of being struck by the simple, meaningful act of running into someone on the street.
With a scrunch of her face she thought. I wished she would think for an hour to let me plan my next move, and maintain that sweet look. I cursed my brain for retrieving the word 'cute'. I could picture the word on the movie screen in my head with her face underneath it. The face below being the definition to the adjective.
"Uh, can I buy you a coffee? By way of apology, of course." I interjected. Maybe better not to let her consider all the implications.
"You did this on purpose, you creep!" She spoke sweetly, humourously, in jest. It was the open door I was waiting for.
"Like fishing with dynamite!" The wittiest comment I could come up with. "There's a shop around the corner. If you have nowhere to be, we could go". I felt that 'we' implied some togetherness, but I meant it only subliminally. My way of speaking to the part of her brain which remained outside of our physical conversation. Set the idea deep so that just maybe it would take hold.
She hummed and hawed eventually allowing me to share her presence. We held company in a slow gait around the corner. Our footsteps clipped and clopped on the sidewalk in unison providing cadence to our conversation.
"You alway go around pushing people?" I started as I slid my hands into my pockets, as much for the cold as nervous tick.
"Whoa, you walked into me!" She smiled lightly or maybe a little angrily.
"Just woke up on the wrong side of the bed I guess." I kept trying to make light as we walked, unsure of where I stood.
"Do you really have to get in a girl's way to get her to notice you?" She smiled and I felt all at once at ease.
We broke the threshold of the door. Greeted by the bitter scent of brewing, boiling beans. We synchronized steps toward the counter dodging chatting patrons. Bowing slightly I stepped back to allow her forward.
I watched, paying particular attention to what she ordered; it was a clue about her.
"Large coffee, black, please." I watched the words flow from her lips and felt the sigh in me. Black coffee. A girl after my own heart.
"I'll do the same, please."
We took our drinks. She led me to a small table with two simple wooden chairs at the back of the cafe.
I waited for her to sit first. It was a conscious move, but nothing that I fully understood. I was always just taught to do that.
While she sat I was allowed to look her over completely. It was a gift.
I engaged my senses. Wanted to take as much in as I could. I was warm in the faint scent of her perfume. I felt my face smiling watching the way her hands tended to the black coffee within her grasp. 'Lucky cup,' I thought. It shared the warmth of her hand. My face began to hurt because I was smiling too hard while I watched the loose curl of brown hair across her forehead. She adjusted her coat and looked up. I was a thief caught in the act. All and at once becoming aware of myself I sat.
"Uh, are you okay?" Red handed, without any recourse I smiled again. I felt the stiffness in my cheeks return.
"Yeah, yeah, sorry, I was just.. thinking of something." A million beautiful words flowed through my mind. Such that I could barely think.