Her hair was flittering in the wind. That’s when he first saw her. He couldn’t remember if it was in front of the post office or in the foyer of the old hotel. All he remembered was her hair, red like crimson, moving like waves. He was caught in her storm, almost immediately, like a ship that lost its way only to find a long-forgotten laguna, deserted yet captivating. That time he didn’t speak to her. He lost all the ability to utter even a single word and being quite resolute of not making a fool out of himself, he followed her with his eyes. No, he didn’t follow her, but he did observe her movement as if his destiny depended on it. A ship is often at the mercy of the sea, and that is how he felt. He submitted to this unfamiliar feeling of delight and loss that started to stir inside him, all at once. Delight at her beauty, the grace with which she moved, and the loss of independence that he tried to build over the last years. And he felt the loss of her as she moved away into the distance. Something woke him up out of this reverie; a car passing by or the cold breeze that invited him to come to his senses again. He then literally shook his head from left to right a few times, shaking off the cloud of surprise that gathered around him. After a few minutes he walked away, in the opposite direction. One thing he couldn’t shake off, though, was a sense that he went the wrong way, even though that was the path that led to his house. It was no longer as familiar, as if a thin air of detachment has paved the way before him. He couldn’t sleep that night, nor the next, nor the one after. In the pit of his stomach he knew he had to see her again. And he did. This time, she saw him too.
They were inseparable, eventually. She wasn’t impressed at first, but merely because she was hardly ever impressed at first with anything. She preferred to give it time, like drinking wine, savouring every sip, holding it in her mouth, feeling its texture, depth, noticing if it is sweet or bitter or whether it has traces of both. It would be wrong to say that she approached meeting him as she would wine testing. He just wasn’t an exception. She approached everything as careful as she could, and as much as life allowed it, for she didn’t like regret. Soon, however, she discerned that a taste of his presence was sweet and quite satisfactory.
They met in the same street, just underneath a cherry-blossom tree. This time he didn’t see her, he sensed her. He notice the air change as if in an instant spring started to blossom inside him as much as outside him. He wasn’t used to it and it made him uncomfortable. The fragrance of the air was filled with the smell of cherries and yet he knew that added to it was another yet gentler fragrance, belonging to a woman. His breathing was on the verge of nervous and excited, until a few moments after it calmed down. If he had tried to put into words what he just experienced, he would probably sound like an inarticulate fool, unable to find words. Later, upon reflection, he would say that the fragrance of the flowers and the fragrance of this woman both entered the depths of his soul and brought life, fulfilment and joy. He was hesitant to move lest he lost this newfound treasure. And then he noticed something quite unusual, he could hear the sound of someone’s beating heart. It wasn’t his. He turned around and the only person in close proximity was the woman with red hair, meddling with her shopping bag. He realised he could actually hear her heart.
What happened within her during this few minutes of the voiceless encounter, it is hard to tell. She looked at him straight into the eyes, smiled with a smile that burned him stronger than million rays of the midday Sun, but she was not impressed. Being totally unaware as to what happened with him, and not knowing that this was not the first time he noticed her, she simply uttered a kind “Hello” and was ready to leave but he stopped her. She agreed to meet him, tomorrow at the same time. Little did she know that tomorrow will be the end of her life as she knew it, and that the new day will bring a whole new beginning, a new start.
© Iva Beranek (Dublin, 15th April 2015)
Photo by © Iva Beranek
*This story will be prior to “When the trees grieve in Fall” (at the moment the full story is only in fragments)