I watched her, sitting there music in her ears, a book in her hand, an ice tea and a sandwich on the table, a sketch book, some coloured pens. It seemed as if she had been there a long time, or that she came there a lot, or may be she just went to cafés a lot and spread her paraphernalia on the table and felt at home. I don’t know. But I envied her, just for a second. I don’t really know why. I guess I got the feeling she didn’t care about all the people walking in and out, looking at her, people like me sitting at a table behind her, guessing what might be going on in her head. She seemed content with herself and her stuff strewn accross a table in a café, without a care in the world. She just sat there, facing the door, but she didn’t seem distracted by the people coming in and out during the busy lunch hour.
I had been watching her for about thirty minutes, while I ate my own sandwich and sipped my coffee, music in my ears, when she looked up and watched a man enter the café. It was the first time in the last thirty minutes, I had seen her look at the door. I couldn’t see her face but she kept looking at him and he smiled slightly keeping his eyes on her. He walked with a limp, slowly, towards her table. She had been expecting him. Did they meet here everyday at this time? For lunch? Wait! She had already eaten. May be they met for coffee after lunch. She stood up as he came closer, they hugged briefly and awkwardly it seemed to me. They knocked down a glass of water. They seemed nervous. She hurried to clear the table, her phone, her books. So they didn’t meet everyday? Or they didn’t know each other very well, perhaps. They had met recently, perhaps. He sat down and leaned over to get the tissues and wipe the table. She let out a sigh, shoulders slumping and sank into her seat. He put his hands across the table palms up, she let hers slide into his, he held them tenderly and smiled. “Hi”, he said. So they did know each other well. There was an intimacy in that moment that could only mean they knew each other well. Right? Then why the nervousness?
She left her hands in his and said “Hi. You’re still limping.”
So they hadn’t seen each other in awhile.
“Yeah. You noticed.” he said.
“Adds a quirk to your already quirky self.” she said.
He smiled softly looking in her eyes, squeezing her hand tight.”So what are you reading?”
She showed him the book and he said something about how he didn’t know it existed.
“Yeah! I didn’t have a lot of cash, I couldn’t use my card, but needed a book desperately so I bought a cheap one.”
He laughed, “Come, let’s go get you a better book.”
“Who said its a bad book? Its a cheap book, not a bad one.”
He smiled, a long smile, looking at her, it seemed to me, as if they had known each other a long time. “Coffee?” he said, signalling to the waiter.
“Americano” she said.
“Two” he signalled to the waiter.
“Want to take it outside?” she said. He walked to the counter paid and got the coffee while she got her stuff. She stood up and caught me looking at her, smiled at me briefly and walked out coffee in her hand, his arm around her waist, holding her close.