Sunday, December 12, 2004
Story-teller time again. Feeling quite creative these days - or is it, excessively mushy? Be kind. ;-)
He was watching her across an ocean. It seemed small for an ocean, but the world was strange, he mused, scratching idly at the tiny brown mark on a spotless table. Strange things happened, like this for example, he was looking at her, watching what she did, in all the clear confidence of being anonymous, unknown, just another figure among millions, thousands, hundreds, tens...
Cool air blew from her lips, slightly pink, slightly plum, as they made their way through the froth on the coffee. It was a bright blue cup, large and round, cheerful simply by virtue of its rotund appearance, and the coffee within was dark and swirling, brown, with a lot of milk, remnants of cream that crowned an exotic nature... and the cool air from her lips blew through all of that.
She had a slight bent to her head, as she sat there, reading, reading, reading... too far too tell, to near not to feel. Her eyes were half-closed, half-open, something like that first sensation one goes through every morning when sleep drifts away, a bit of restlessness, a lot of desire, a hint of activity, suppressed by deep, dark contentment. It was content in her eyes, that was it, as they pored over her book. Not too big, not too fat, hardcover and yet it did not seem intimidating in some way - perhaps because of the manner in which she was reading it? - calm, content, focused, easy...
Legs crossed, but that was to be expected. No signs of mystery, no signs of the Madonna, no secrecy here, now, then, no little cliched gesture that hid so much more than she revealed. She could not be omnipotent, she was vulnerable, as she had to be, and there was that hint of a rebel within her too. Homely, perhaps - angry, quite likely - rested, without a doubt. Mannerisms were difficult to tell - somebody called them the mirror to your soul, or was that line about your face, never mind, never mind - mannerisms were difficult, but this was something that you felt sure on, seeing her. You felt sure that if the waiter bungled up, or she would drop something on the floor, caught up in her intense reading, she would look up, bewildered, smile with an embarrassing blush that threatened to go out of control, give a short staccato burst of laughter, and then settle back down, book, book, book.... fingernails tap-tapping on the wooden table.
The blue mug was the key. The blue mug said so much about her contrast. She was thinking - it was placid. She was calm - it contained the swirling black coffee within, bubbling, boiling, frustrated. Her lips creased into a smile - but the cup remained, blue and round, and heavy, and strangely, mildly cheerful, but strangely, mildly out of sync now.
She blew cool air onto the broth again, and for a second, her lips seemed to shimmer. Or simmer.
Green eyes hidden behind a black frame, slightly square at the edges, held at the nose with two tiny grips, they might have been missed had you been less observant. Those eyes were poised now, looking, darting, playing a strange game that refused to die down, refused to submit. They were teasing what they saw, looking alternately at furniture (dead wood in a bland brown store), or the pastries under the glass case (chocolate, chocolate, something red, chocolate) and then coming back to the chase. It was fun, a test to see what would happen, you could almost feel the pupils dilate, the iris quiver in a flash of emerald pigment, something was going to happen, something was bound to happen.
Adam's apple was bobbing, slightly, up and down, not really voluntary, and he couldn't have any idea about it at all. Or that his finger was now tracing idle circles, ovals, ellipses on the table, his thumb pulled back, slightly clenched for no apparent reason - or the fact that his feet were upturned now on the table, brushed softy against it, and his left knee was rocking slowly, almost silently. Yet, it spoke, as it rocked, softly. Will she, won't she, now she, not now, godawlmighty, pretend now, look away, little whispers carried forth on a strangely invisible stream, across the ocean.
A tall, tall glass of something blue stood there, half-full, half-empty, squarely in the centre of one of his table-ellipses, its frosty surface coated with little droplets of condensation, the ice cubes within melted by now, and yet, there are many more miles to go in his vigil. There was a thrill when you thought about him drinking that, then his Adam's apple would bob some more, involuntarily, and you could take cover behind your book, and stare back at, and examine in turn, things across the ocean.
Things like the speck of dark tanned skin at his throat, like some modern-day rendition of the legend of Nilkantha, like some modern-day ascetic who has braved the flings and fortunes of unceasing life, and has taught himself never to stop either. It is all in motion, you understand, the room, the ocean, the table with the brown speck on it, the tall glass with something blue, the boy with his teasing green eyes and his excited Adam. All in motion, and there is a sense that if once something, anything, pauses, the entire framework will collapse. The composition will be marred, and the ocean, though small, though large, will somehow be sucked away dry. His frames will clatter to the table, he will look around, hoping that he has attracted no one's attention, then quickly drink the remaining blue, and saunter away out through the revolving doors to the passive outside where he will disappear. The motion will be stopped. That will be the real tragedy.
A part of her smiled within, and the alphabet on the page before her focused in her brain to crystal clarity once more. She read another sentence, but was soon watching him again, discreetly, softly, across the room, the ocean that separated the two of them. It seemed strange to be doing this, watching someone, who you knew was watching you, pretending not to watch him watch you watch him, feel oddly secure and confident in the anonymity that comes with the feeling of being just one among millions, thousands, hundreds, tens...
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