Monday, January 29, 2007

Turning the Page

Here's a brief passage from the book I'm never going to finish writing:
It's clear that she adores him.

From the moment that he sneaked up and surprised her with a quick tap on her shoulder, she's hung on his every word. She's followed his every move through the store, asked his opinion on various books, and laughed a little too loudly and and a little too long at his jokes.

When she smiles at him, her eyes are alight with expectation. For his part, he remains aloof. Is he oblivious to her interest, or is that part of his game?

"I see that you're growing your winter beard." she says as she reaches up to stroke his chin.

He grunts in surprise and touches the stubble on his chin as if noticing it for the first time; as if his beard was, indeed, something that naturally occurred with the changing of the seasons.

"Yeah, I guess I am." he replies. "I started it a few weeks ago when the cold weather set it, but with the unseasonably warm temperatures we've been having, there doesn't seem to be much of a point to it now."

"It looks good." she says. "Really good..."

Her words trail off but her eyes linger while a seductive half-smile plays on her lips.

He strolls over to the Sci-Fi section of the bookstore. It's an area which, judging by the books in her hand, she has no interest, yet she trails him obligingly. He mentions an author he likes and expresses disappointment that a specific title that he's seeking is out of stock.

She checks the shelf to confirm.

"I'll be right back." she says.

He continues to peruse the shelves while she makes her way over to the literature section in the hopes that she'll find a copy of the book to ease his disappointment. Her search is complicated by the fact that she glances in his direction every two seconds; apparently fearing that he'll disappear as quickly as he appeared. After satisfying herself that the book has not been misshelved, she hurries back to his side.

I can watch no longer. I put the books I'd intended to buy on a nearby table and I make my way towards the exit. I look through the window and see her hanging on his arm as he reads aloud from book he's holding and I can't help wondering how things would have been between us had I been more to her than just the guy she was with because she couldn't be with him.

My eyes slowly lose focus until I'm staring at my own reflection in the window. I stare at the broken man I've become, and then I turn and try to lose myself in the crowd that snakes its way along 5th Avenue.