There she was. Walking down that same lane. Again. It must've been the fourth time I had seen her this week. She had the same glum look on her face. She wore the same white sneakers with bright orange inserts. And the same purple sweater. Hideous purple sweater. It wasn't even that cold out here anymore.
Should I muster up courage to go speak to her? Maybe politely ask her to perhaps change the dress she was wearing.
Maybe I should not. What if it has some emotional connection? Maybe it was her late Father's gift. Or worse. The memory of a boyfriend long ago. I am not foolish enough to believe that she must've been single throughout her life. She wasn't the conventional pretty, but she was the conventional cute. Even in that purple sweater.
What kind of guy would she have liked?
Her stride exudes a composure. Though she does not use an iPod, she might as well have. Her eyes seem so lost somewhere; I am sure, in some painful past. Burning calories, and burning memories. Lighting old birthday cards or photographs at one end. Watching the flame absolve her from guilt and misery. The smoke must've caused that glint in her eye. The ashes though, she kept in an urn inside her.
Wait! Did she just turn towards me? No. Probably not.
There is a glint in her eye. Maybe I am imagining it. But when the Sun peaks down at her from between the branches, he strikes her with a gleaming smile. And almost as if to prove my point, she brushed a strand of hair off her face. The glint was gone from her eyes.
I shivered under my loose t-shirt. Maybe I was wrong. It is a bit cold here these days. And on second thought, the sweater is not that bad, really. Purple is a nice colour. It kind of suited her. Her curls bounced off the knits of her sweater.
All of a sudden, I had this urge to hold the sweater close to me. To feel the warmth that she feels as she wears it. And to see the bits of her hair that's stuck to that sweater.
She started turning back for home now.
He was staring again. For the fourth time this week, he was there. On that park bench staring at me like it's the most natural thing to do.
Why does he do this? It's not as if I haven't gotten used to guys staring. They stare all the time. When you walk, run (especially) and even if you are sitting somewhere minding your own business.
But he was different. Maybe he was thinking of something else and just staring in my direction.
Nah. He's staring. And gosh! What's with that hideous pink shorts he is wearing? He seems to be one of the clumsy kind -- doesn't know purple from magenta.
But otherwise he was the okay looking guy. He must have looked nice if he's going to the office or something. Not much of an exerciser. Probably drinks a lot of beer. Look at that paunch. I am sure he's happily unaware of it. Sitting on that park bench ain't burning any calories, dear.
Did he think I just looked at him now? I saw the faintest flick of his face up at me. No. He's gone back to his thoughts.
The sun was really bright now. It must be late. I should be heading back home now. But I felt something over my face. I hated my curly hair. It was so messy it always kept falling over my face no matter how neatly I tied it up. And there was one of those pesky strands up to it again.
I felt it brushing against my lashes. Much irritating that is. I flicked my palm over it.
I turned around at the intersection.
Even he was getting up from the park bench.
A Near Future
He stirred the sugar in his coffee for the 50th time that evening.
She was sitting opposite to him. She took the cup to her lips. She probably just wetted her lips with it. He loved his coffee, but give her an ice cream any day.
She kept the mug down with a mild clang. He got the intimation. He looked up at her.
"What did you think of me the first time you saw me?" she asked in a straightforward tone.
"Why are you asking me that now?" He was confused.
"Don't answer a question with another question, Mister. Just answer me." she snapped back.
"Ok. The first thing I thought about you. Was the first thing that I noticed about you."
"And what was that. And don't be nasty now," she added hastily.
He leaned back, tipping the chair on to its hind legs.
"Oh..." he stated looking up dreamily. "That pair... just bouncing... as you..."
"SHUT UP!!!" she screamed.
He came forward. The chair back its fours. His eyes were wide with mock surprise. He looked around. No. No one was looking at them. There was a cute girl in pink at the corner.
He turned back to her again.
"Ok. Ok.. Don't scream now." he said.
"So are you gonna tell me?" she waited for him to respond.
"Actually. I was thinking about your sweater the first time I saw you."
"You thought it was bad, no?"
"Nooo," he shrugged.
His voice became earnest now. And he looked deep into her eyes.
"I thought if I could just hold them with me. To feel the same warmth you felt. To feel the same love with which you held it so close to you."
"Really?" she melted.
"Really," he replied.