Oh, she could pinpoint his voice anywhere! Even in the busy diner she overheard his laugh and conversation. It snaked its way through the crowd of demanding, hungry people to her ears like a good, soulful song that she hadn't listened to in awhile. The smile in his tone was melodic and his sense of humor was a one of a kind rhythm. She instantly wondered if he had seen her come in and take her usual spot in the dimly lit corner, behind the always-filled coat rack. She liked that certain booth because it allowed her to unwind with some privacy - something she always had too little of – while still being able to observe the entire room. It had been an unforgiving, cold morning, with too many annoying disruptions, and all she had been looking forward to was meeting friends and consuming a fattening, double-melt, heart attack on a plate, tall Coke and fries on the side. Serious reconsideration was now being given to that craving; the last thing she wanted was for him to see her purge frustration and stress with empty calories and cholesterol. She rubbed the back of her neck and kept her eyes to the table, perhaps to keep the half formed smile on her face hidden. Her day had just gotten a hell of a lot better. Soon she wouldn't be sitting alone, and there could even be a slight chance of a "Hello," or "Good to see you," coming her way. He was an acquaintance that had never been available, neither had she for that matter, the timing was always wrong. They’re friendship that went years back was always just one big suggestion to something more. They never openly spoke about the attraction, but it was an understood feeling.
Even with the prospect of all the social fulfillment that was possible, she couldn't help but scold herself for venturing out of her apartment without thinking twice about what people were going to see when they looked in her direction. Her hair was wild and untamed, only held together by an array of elastic ties and knots. The make-up she applied all too quickly in the cab was hardly was enough by her standards, so she covered the top-half of her face with large sunglasses that ventured straight into Jackie Onassis territory. Yet, like any woman in her prime, she wore her clothes and accessories with a humble confidence and gave the aspect of deliberately projecting a bohemian image, as it is the fashionable thing to do. The thing now days seems to be that the more you make it appear that you don't care about how you look, the more you actually really do give a damn. To anyone else she is visually pleasing, but today, it was only his opinion that mattered. She peered at him through the dark lenses but the lack of light was restrictive and made it hard to see his lovely features. That didn't matter however, because she had memorized them well already. Her thoughts about that were: when you don't get to see a person everyday, especially when you have a thing for them; you learn to retain specific knowledge about them to help you get through the dry spells.
He had what could be considered a family with him; a tiny, white-haired grandmother type that seemed to have a questionable interest in her soup that she shakily swirled her spoon through, an aunt or perhaps his mother sat across from him, her voice a little too loud but affectionate. He only seemed pleased with, and not with the older company out of forced duty but of purely just wanting to be there. The girl’s concentration was only interrupted when she saw her friends walk through the door. She quickly straightened her hunched position, took off her shades, and shot a zinger of a smile in their path as if to say “Who, me, spy on anyone? Don’t be crazy!” Her two acquaintances, Anita and David, were a married couple with a sixteen-year age gap on her. Both in their late thirties, they were always open-minded, there for her when she needed someone, and somewhat parental but without the requisite guilt mothers and fathers can oftentimes heap upon their offspring when lending advice. However, it was a win-win situation; at twenty-four, she gave them a sense of youth and free-spiritedness that they enjoyed wholeheartedly. After the usual hugs and hello’s they got down to the business of ordering food and catching up.
Even with the exchange of witty quips and humorous sentences regarding life in general, the girl was still somewhat distracted. Her glances in the beautiful man’s direction became longer each time, her lips shifted to a half grin when she noted that they were finished eating and ready to pay the check. Suddenly, in mid turn, as he was getting up to leave, he seemed to have recognized her and stopped. She felt her heart tense and slow down the entire world like some sort of mystic clock. A voice inside her brain screamed, “Wave stupid, why can’t you wave at him!!!” Her inner, repressed, brave, woman had started a physical chain reaction; it was as if an invisible force lifted her slender wrist off of the table and moved her hand back and forth. She was beside herself with fear, but it felt good. The man waved back and mouthed “Hi.” As he walked to her booth she desperately tried to control herself to not just jump and tackle him right then, and there. The demure side of her personality won and she remained in her seat. He spoke first, “I guess you didn’t want to cook either.” His smile was genuine as she answered. “I’m here with friends, when did you get into town?” The man began to zip up his jacket, “A night ago, but I’m heading back home later today, right now I have to get some errands done.” She knew exactly what he meant by “errands” and figured that his now ex-girlfriend that she heard about was moving out of his place as they were speaking. “I hope to make it back here soon, take care and I might see you again.” He reached with his arms for her and she calmly returned a strong hug.
As he was still bent and close, she felt a small kiss on the top of her head. Too small for a public display, but so meaningful she slightly gasped. It was the first time in the six years of knowing each other that he had crossed that line. He stepped back, confident, fully aware of his actions and looked straight into her wide eyes. Before he turned, a small nod and smile told her that it really was what he had meant to do. She watched him pay the cashier, leave, and disappear with the traffic outside. David, on the other hand, who like any married man was oblivious to the monumental romantic storm of the century that had just hit the diner head on, continued his with his point on new versus pre-owned vehicles. Anita, who never missed anything, leaned in and gave the girl a knowing expression. “What was it that I just witnessed?” The younger of the two leaned in as well and slyly sidestepped the question, “You were witness to a change of luck.” Anita giggled at the response and shook her head in disbelief. David, not taking his eyes off of the food that just arrived decided to put his two-cents into the discussion and said, “I think that its time you start being yourself again, you’re ready, I saw the way he looked at you.” His words drew them all back to reality and even though she didn’t say anything, the girl, deep down agreed with him. For her own breakup had been well over months ago. Out of all of her friends, these two people were her main support and counselors through that horrible time. Because of that she felt grateful for them and happy they were in her life.
After dinner they decided to go downtown for awhile to check out shops and unique stores. The mood was fun and relaxed but she caught herself a couple of times, looking around to see if maybe she’d have some chance of spotting another glimpse of him. Though she didn’t for the rest of the day, an instant replay of that hug played over and over in her mind. Each time it ended she would smile before it instantly started up again. Before saying goodbye for the evening to her surrogate parents, she was asked again by Anita who that man was. “He’s just an old friend actually.” The girl brushed her hair out of her face and hoped that the subject would be forgotten until the next time they got together. Anita, transitioning from a young wife to seasoned pro, still had questions in her head. She still remembered what it was like when she had first met David and couldn’t get enough of him. “Well, I don’t think he’s just an old friend of yours anymore.” The girl laughed despite herself and told Anita, “I hope you’re right.”