This story has been translated into French.
I see her from across the street. She is walking with her friends. Her bag is dangled from one arm. She steps carefully, her weight flowing from one foot to the other. She is smiling, talking, laughing. I follow her from my seat, my gaze skims the top of today’s news, through car windows. I see her reflection in a shop window, she kneels to look at shoes she likes. She arises, and threads her way between parked cars, looks hurriedly up the street waiting for a gap in the passing traffic. Her friends follow, overtake her. They sit, at the café table, not too far from me.
My spirits rise, for now I can take her in slowly. I order another coffee as the waiter goes to serve their table. I catch her eye inadvertantly, she notices me, her friend makes a joke and a smile widens as she turns to converse. She puts a cigarette to her mouth, lights and inhales. She removes her jacket, as she twists to hang it over the back of her chair, her silk blouse is pulled taught across her chest. I can see the straps of her bra through the light fabric. She takes off her sunglasses and I can better see the outline of her face, her nose, her eyes. She is beautiful, almost too beautiful, a beauty that captivates, a beauty that garners attention without effort, a beauty that all too often renders the bearers capricious and selfish. Despite that, her manner gives leave to wish that she is a kind spirit, friendly and open, generous and loving.
I imagine that her parents loved her greatly, but had always been strict. I see her as a child, running in green fields with her father’s hand. I see her lying in her mothers arms, enjoying the idle caresses upon her crown. I see her now, lying in a bath, her eyes closed, the bliss of sented water enclosing her body. For the longest time, I turn my attention away, I read the headlines, the menu, I watch the street scene, I smoke, but eventually I feel my attention drawn inorexibly back to her. She is listening to her friends speak, her mind elsewhere, daydreaming. I smile, and she sees me smiling, and smiles back slowly. I want to look away, but I can not, I felt the smile slowly fade from my face, and then watch it slowly fade from hers. I blink, and my coffee arrives. The waiter asked to be paid right away. I fish for coins in my pocket, gave it to the man, and look back to her, she notices me but does not hold my gaze a second time. The longer I look at her, the longer I wait, the less I am able to introduce myself. Unfortunately, I can not stand, approach her and introduce myself, for that would encroach upon the intimacy of her group of friends, and put her in the awkward place of having to quite politely ask me to go away. No, no, no, that simply wouldn’t do. Instead I simply let the moment slip away, finish my coffee, get up and walk away. One more whom I’ll never see again.