I sat at my table. It was Wednesday. I had sandwiches and a ginger beer on Wednesdays. I sat silently observing everyone around me. A woman who was trying to shut up her two year old in vain, the potbellied man who looked at the daily paper like he was going to enter into its black and white depths, the sullen looking teenager who wouldn’t stop chewing on gum, smacking his lips in sickening fashion. I observed. It was routine for me. I wanted to be a part and at the same time stay detached from it all, I was all and nothing, I just was.
Why was I sitting here on a Wednesday afternoon? Simple! Her.
She came in at exactly 1:00pm, like clockwork. It was her lunch hour. When she came in, the whole place literally brightened up, she had that effect on people and places. She was… breathtaking! I always stopped breathing when she came in, it always got me giddy. She wore her hair long today, it had been much shorter two weeks ago. Her light skin glowed, her aquiline was as flawless as ever, her small lips were inviting. She sauntered to her table and looked my way. Our eyes met. Her eyes were like endless pools of water, you voluntarily wanted to drown in it. She smiled faintly. It was a sad smile. I felt the heat rise at the back of my neck. I was suddenly self-conscious; did my hair look okay? Did my breath smell funny? Did I look weird? She had that effect on me. But I quickly reminded myself that that didn’t matter much.
We had kissed once. It was in my kitchen. She had come to visit and had decided to make lunch. I have no recollection as to what she was making, but it involved her chopping onions and tomatoes. She worked with such grace. She had an apron on and her back was to me. I just watched in fascination. How did she end up in my place? Does it matter? Do I remember? I don’t care. She was there. She had been there, that was all that counted or counts. Her knife hand smoothly cut through the tomatoes, in a slow rhythmic motion that had me transfixed. I watched for a while, and then I moved. I don’t know why I did. I don’t know what I was planning on doing. I just had to be near her. I stood behind her and took her arms. She stopped cutting, she didn’t turn to face me. She just quietly looked down at her incomplete work. I bent my head slowly to her neck and I just took her in. Her soft skin had a faint whiff of perfume on it, it was hardly noticeable. But her skin itself? It smelled of coconut, fresh pine and olives. I inhaled her and just stood there for a couple of minutes. She didn’t pull away. Then slowly, she turned around. I looked into those endless pools for a moment and bent my head. She lifted her chin and our lips met.
It was a simple kiss. It wasn’t rough, we didn’t try to devour each other, we didn’t bite at our lips, we didn’t grapple. It was a pure kiss. It was an innocent kiss. It was an intense kiss. Words that couldn’t be said were expressed in that kiss. It lasted forever but was over in a second.
We pulled apart, and then held each other, saying nothing, swaying slightly. There was nothing to say. It was what I called a ‘companionable silence’, comfortable in our embrace, breathless from our kiss, despaired in our circumstance.
She had someone else. Simple eh? Pfft! I wish.
She ended it. She couldn’t have us both I guess.
So, looking at her now, with that slight smile on her face, that sad smile, the one that said so much, memories of that afternoon occupied my head in those few seconds we spent staring at each other across a crowded room. Secrets of the ages were shared as two became four. Then she turned. The spell was broken. Her face split into a smile as the person she was waiting for arrived. She got up to give him a hug and I could her faint hellos between them.
This was my real reason for coming here on Wednesday afternoons.
I felt it, the familiar sensation spreading across my bloodstream like a drug.
It wracked my already fragile being as I watched them together. My heart probably bore crisscross scars of several stitches. It broke for the umpteenth time. I felt a sorrow so raw, so undiluted, so potent. It was surely going to swallow me into an abyss I’d never be able to come out of. I sat there, hands trembling over my ginger beer, heart thudding in resignation. It beat to keep me alive, but even the poor organ had become disinterested in its work, like it knew its master wasn’t really interested in what it was doing.
Pain, sorrow, despair; my favorite people.
I got up shakily. I’m not sure she noticed, maybe she did and just decided to ignore it. I came here because this was the only time and place I could see her.
I moseyed to the café door and let myself out. I’ll be here again next Wednesday; I’ll have my sandwich and ginger beer. I’ll get my heart broken again.
I’ll come once more to see Moby Dick.