“The Perils of Dining Alone”

I saw her enter
the store
and time stood still
for everybody there.

She turned everyone’s
heads.

She disappeared behind me
but reappeared
moments later
in my field of vision
and sat
in the next table.

She placed her phone
against her ear
and gazed sideways
at my direction.
Then her eyes darted
around the room
and outside
and she looked
straight through
the glass wall,
obviously expecting
someone.

At that moment I knew
for certain
that only three more glances
are needed to seal my doom.

The first glance —
I saw her long hair,
her figure, her olive green
blouse and faded blue
jeans.

I forced myself
to look at the worksheet
in front of me.

The second glance —
I saw her face
more clearly
and I lost
my equilibrium
altogether.
I stared at the computer
screen
and tried to make
sense of the email
I was trying so
hard to finish writing.

She fidgeted
in her seat,
and once or twice
from the corner
of my eye
I noticed her again
looking straight at me,
then through me and
towards the people
outside passing by.

All my thoughts were lost —
work, plans, goals,
people, authors,
books —
they hurled themselves
out of the window
and plunged
into the concrete floor
below.

I cannot afford
to lose my mind.
I knew without a doubt
that the third glance
will almost permanently
fix her in my
memory.

I preferred to let her image
disappear like a smoke
from my brain.
I preferred to forget her
entirely.
I preferred to have a
pure mind
and heart.

So I sent the email,
finished the report,
packed my laptop,
drank what remained
of my Americano,
and with weakened knees,
unsteady feet
and scattered mind
I walked as fast
and as far
as I can
away from
the coffee shop.

 

 

 

 

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