Posted Monday, March 15th, 2010
You promise yourself youíll just walk by once. Just glance at his favorite table. You wonít search for your own reflection in the glass, wonít try to see if your legs look skinny in that skirt, wonít bring your hand absently up to your hair when you notice a stray wisp escaping the ponytail. No, youíll just walk by as if youíre still a tourist and see if heís still there.
He used to be there every day. And you used to be a tourist. And then he wasnít there anymore and you werenít a tourist anymore because you can hardly be a tourist when youíre practically living in his apartment, when you buy tampons at the corner store and when you know that garbage day is Thursday. Then you know youíre not a tourist anymore. And yet you are. Youíre a tourist in his kitchen, trying to find the sugar and the flour. When you try to make him pancakes, you discover that he doesnít keep staples like flour and baking soda in his cupboards. And so he treats you to breakfast at the corner cafť where you first saw him.
He used to sit there every morning and write stories about the women he was going to meet. And after he met you he didnít sit there. He stops drinking espressos each morning and instead warms his hands on a mug of your weak black coffee made with that press-pot you got on sale at a flea market. And even though heís agreed to the coffee, you know he still writes the stories. Even when heís not sitting at his table by the window writing the stories, heís still making them up in his head. Every woman he sees on the street has the potential of being a woman heís going to meet. You were once that woman. You were a woman he saw and then he met you and he didnít have to make up stories anymore because you were right there every day and the mystery was gone.
And then you realized that youíd rather be the mystery. You have been raised to believe that the woman should be mysterious and the man should be whatever the opposite of mysterious is. And yet you found yourself trying to solve him, trying to explain him, like why doesnít he buy flour and why canít he sit in the cafť now that heís got you. So you became a tourist again.
And now itís been so long. Or maybe it hasnít. You canít decide if five days is a long time. Youíve booked your flight home and packed your bags. Youíre staying at the hostel you were in when you met him and now your duffle bag is stuffed in a locker maybe thirty feet from the chair he used to occupy. And you have to know if heís there again, writing about the women.
But when you walk by, all you can see is your own reflection and your hair has indeed come loose from its clasp and your skirt is not at all flattering to your legs. You try to see past the glint of light, but the only man you see is a tourist walking by, and you are both just reflections turned backwards.
Comments [post a comment]
Posted by Donna Levy [ firstname.lastname@example.org
] on Monday, March 15th, 2010 at 10:29 PM
I think what we have here is a little masterpiece. I loved the second paragraph in which the tourist became a tourist in his kitchen. Bravo, Anika. Love, Donna
Posted by SALOME DAMON on Tuesday, March 16th, 2010 at 3:33 PM
Very good story about the longing and hope many of us have had in lost relationships. It has happened to me, too.
Posted by jocelyn johnson on Thursday, March 18th, 2010 at 9:17 PM
I like the flipped reflections and the flea market coffee press.
Posted by Shane Ryan Bailey on Saturday, July 31st, 2010 at 9:05 PM
Very nice. Good short-short story Anika.