Monday, June 23, 2008

A Chance Encounter with Love

An old woman frantically crossed the street in the rain. Holding only a sopping newspaper above her already dampened hair, she peered through store windows looking for something. I watched as she sprinted over puddles on the sidewalk, a person on a mission.

As I took a long mouthful of my warm cappuccino, a young boy and his mother walked into the cafe. Obviously enjoying this wet day, he marched along her side intentionally squeaking his boots in circles with the front of his feet. She had just picked him up from school because he was going through his cartoonish backpack showing her artwork from the day.

A crying baby soon gained my attention, and I watched her mom lift up her shirt to breastfeed while herself cradling an organic milk by the straw in her mouth. She appeared to be enjoying this moment out of the house and able to carry on in public amongst others. I remembered helping my cousin when she'd had her first child, and every moment of independence was a gift in itself.

I adjusted my glasses to peer out at the street, once again in search of the old woman. Her bright red raincoat made it easy to spot her, but I had no such luck. I focused on the different shops across the nearby way. There was a modest sized bookstore that looked like it probably smelled of old classics, a bakery with steamy windows and blurred shadows of people crowded inside, and a flower shop with colorful plants, waiting to be sold, under the awning.

Some beautiful orange flowers caught my eye, and I finished my drink, grabbed my umbrella, and walked across when it was clear. The rain had slowed down, and I could even make out a glimpse of the sun reflecting off of a fragmented spider web attached to the awning. I honed in on the beautiful foliage and noticed something. The old woman I had observed earlier was an attendant at this store, her red raincoat visible from inside. I watched as she fussed with her undone hair and patted down her apron over her pants. I walked inside.

"How much for these gorgeous flowers?" I asked to the young girl at the register.
She noted the price, and I took to looking for a new vase to showcase their beauty. It was a quaint little shop that had very good business. As I looked around, already twenty people had been in and out with their purchases.
"When did he say he was going to pick them up?" the old woman asked.
"He said he was on his way, and I called you immediately after I hung up. He asked for you," she relayed back to her co-worker.

The woman's expression eased and she smiled to herself. Her eyes looked as though she had been through a lot, and yet there was still hope for something better. I fumbled between vases, looking for the perfect balance between African safari and exotic gypsy. As I narrowed it down to two, the door opened to the shop and an older gentleman stepped in. He wiped his shoes on the mat and immediately took off his hat and said hello to the two ladies.

"We have your order right here sir," the young girl beckoned.
"I really do love the way you ladies fashion a bouquet. You see every year on her birthday, I bring the most marvelous flowers to my mother," he smiled at the older woman.
"Well your mother and all the other ladies in your life must be very lucky to have such a kind and generous man," she smiled back.

The young girl took her cue to arrange some other projects away from the counter. He looked at the older woman for a moment, suspecting that she might be playing with words and said,"Surely you must have noticed my hands at some point through our exchanges?"

They smiled a knowing smile. I was sure I'd become invisible vapor by now, a mere spektor floating amongst the plants.

"You know I asked for you," he held her gaze and her hand," Let's go for a walk."

She untied her apron and he helped her into her raincoat. He left the money on the counter and said goodbye to the young girl. She smiled and her eyes filled with happy tears.
"He bought them for Rose," the words escaped her mouth. In an instant we both had witnessed an act of love so kind and gentle, we were moved.

I paid for my vase and flowers and left the shop. I looked down the street and saw the two walking hand in hand. I couldn't help but imagine what a loving life the two would share together. That even at an older age, love was still prevalent. The butterflies were still there and the tension and playful flirtation existed beyond my years. I walked home that day smelling each flower I passed.


Mary said...

I enjoyed this story. It was so uplifting as entertaining. Thanks for sharing the warm good thoughts of observing everyday people living their lives on an ordinary rainy day.

Anonymous said...

Great story Sara. I really liked the way you characterized all the details in your writing, this made the story look great and really professional. Keep writing them Sara, because I think you can be really great at it. Writing is important, it is a form of self expression that is vital to all aspects of society. Once again, your story is wonderful. Hope to see more of that from you in the future.