As he walked past the glass door entrance of the cafe, taking a quick glimpse of what lay inside, a certain something stopped his feet from moving any further. He retreated a little and took a long and proper look at the magnificent blue cover of the book that had attracted his pre-occupied mind. He stood there for a couple of seconds, took a long breath and entered the café. There were tables for two on either side of the passage that led to the wider seating area and the counter. In the couple of seconds that he stayed outside the café, making up his mind about walking in, he observed something beyond the blue cover. The book was his favorite; the reader, a girl. She sat on one of the tables, facing the door. To her left, on the wall, was a huge mirror. The diamonds on her left ear-lobe shone every now and then in the mirror. With every step that he took towards her, his curiosity aroused more than it got satiated. She sat there cross-legged, leaning her back against the mirror on the wall, her mysterious face covered by the book. She moved a little in her seat, adjusting her posture again. He walked past her and took a seat to her right, diagonally backwards. He had not seen her face yet. She was looking at the door now, still engrossed in her book. All he could see now was her side reflection in the mirror beside her. She kept the book on the table and stared hard, lost in every word she read. She was gliding her fingers into the tangles of her dark brown hair, pulling a few and swirling them, making them go twirl. Her pink nails dived in the ocean of her hair and then emerged out with pride. Her gentle palm took care of every strand of hair that came between the book and her gaze. As she tucked her hair behind her left ear, he saw her left profile. A tiny mole adorned her fair skin, just above her gloss-eaten lips. She bit her lips as she read, the interval between her subsequent blink depicting the tension that the plot of the book created.
More people had started walking in for coffee in that cold winter evening. He took out a diary from his back-pack and started scribbling, taking an occasional glimpse at her blinking eye, every now and then. Her lips suddenly curved into a smile as she reached the climax of the book. He gazed at the reflection, awe-struck. She sighed, shut the book, and this time, with her right hand grazing her hair, she turned to look at her contented face in the mirror. In that sea of humanity, he finally saw the face that contained an untold story behind the pages of another one. Their eyes met and he was caught stealing a glimpse of what now had become priceless to him. He quickly looked away and started writing again.
She yawned and stretched to disguise her effort of looking at him through the mirror. Her eyes had already registered a complaint against her stalker. But her heart seemed to favor the culprit, no matter what the mind said. He seemed in his early twenties, clad in a Lacoste, Denim and Converse from top to bottom. His jacket covered the bare shoulders of the chair he was sitting on and his guitar leaned against the wall to the right of him. He was writing something with mock seriousness. Every now and then, he would look up, as if engrossed in a deep thought. With the top of his pen near his chin, he would look around for inspiration and finally, finding some in the reflection, would continue to weave words again.
And then, like any cliched romantic movie, a series of seemingly never-ending exchange of looks took place, each with the perfectly wrong timing, completely evading the possibility of any prospective eye-contact. Losing her patience, she finally decided to turn back a little and look at him. Just as she turned, a waiter came and stood in front of his table, prolonging the mystery a little more. Disappointed, she turned to face the door again. The waiter then came to her table, gave her the menu and asked her, in the most polite manner possible, to place her order at the counter. The poor waiter, despite all his etiquette had been cursed. She took a deep breath and got up from her seat. He looked up at her. Determined to get what she wanted, she got up, turned back and making a piercing eye-contact with her stalker, walked towards the counter and said, “One black coffee, please?”
She took the bill and paid the amount. As she stood there, waiting for the change, she turned to take a quick look at him. He was still there, engrossed in his diary.
“This will take a minute, Ma’am”
She politely smiled at the guy who took her order. After a couple of minutes, she finally got the change and turned back in exhilaration to see him again. But he was gone. Her heart ached a little. She felt like a farmer fooled by the dark grey clouds that shed no rain. She gathered herself quickly and started walking towards her table. Despite the rush, the café now seemed empty to her. She sank into her chair and her eyes fell on a little piece of paper pressed within the pages of her book. She took the paper out and began to read,
“A lifetime of eternity
Lived in an ephemeral moment
An eternal satiation
Now dwells in my eyes that met yours.
Eternal the memory, eternal the joy
Eternal like the Helen of Troy
In this brief odyssey left to traverse,
Eternal be you, in this eternal verse.”