Every evening he would watch her, preening, stretching her limbs as a dancer might do just before a performance. Sometimes, it was as if she was aware of him watching, as he smiled at her beauty and her narcissistic posturing. He wondered if her hair was as soft as it appeared, or if her voice was as sultry as her attitude. She would often stare in his direction, across the space of the inner court between their two buildings, and there were times that he imagined she’d seen and smiled at him.
He closed the window shade and shut off his reading lamp, and got up to get ready for bed. He thought of her every now and then, as he performed his evening wind-down routine, between considerations of his wardrobe and lunch options for the next day. Once, while drying himself after his shower, he smiled at the thought of having a companion like her, in some future time. Then, he frowned a little bit. He knew he had to shore up his income and stabilize his outflow at least a little, before he could afford to hold up his end of such a partnership. By the time he was slipping beneath the bedcovers, he was smiling again, remembering her graceful turnings before the window.
The next day was a work day, for him. He got up, had his usual breakfast and coffee, walked to the bus stop, and entered the bus after only a brief wait. He noticed that her mom was already on the bus. That was different. Most days, they shared time waiting at the stop with another handful of commuters. He sat in his usual seat and daydreamed through the rest of the trip to his stop. The work day itself was neither good, nor bad. There were no disasters to deal with, and there were no great accomplishments to set aside for later recollection.
Settled again in his usual seat for the ride home, he noted her mom shuffling down the aisle in his direction after she entered the bus. On a spur of the moment, he raised his hand to get her attention and simultaneously slid closer to the window. “There is an open spot here,” he said.
She stopped, there being no one left behind her in the aisle, and looked at him, considering, somewhat bemused by his offer. After a moment, she decided the earnest looking young fellow would be safe as a seating partner. He was too young to be attracted to her, she was too young to be considered elderly or particularly vulnerable, so, with a why-not shrug, she sat. She waited for him to find his voice again, curious, but too tired to quiz him.
“Uh.” He coughed and shifted nervously a bit. “Uh, so, I don’t know if you recognize me, but we live across the apartment court from each other.”
She smiled, and said that, yes, she had noticed him looking across from his window or balcony, on a couple of occasions.
“Well, uh,” he started again, then rushed to get it out, “So, I haven’t been able to help noticing that your cat is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous, and I’d love to someday have a cat partner just like her! What’s her name?”
At this, her mom chuckled out loud. After the outburst, she said, “Her name is Eartha-Cat, and my name is Caroline, thank you for asking.”
He smiled sheepishly, and offered his name in return. He was going to meet that beautiful creature, after all!
Kevin R. Carr (2022)
About 750 Words