In Weston’s words…
The circumstances were ordinary, but the woman was anything but.
I remember every detail. I always remember. Whether this is a curse, or a gift, I’m still not quite sure. The smallest specifics, the most unimportant facts surrounding an event always seem to stick. But these recollections are often devoid of sentiment. I am rarely affected, or thrown by circumstance. I tend to not feel strong emotion. I always remain distant, looking in from the outside.
But on this fateful night at a busy restaurant, I realized there are exceptions. She was the exception.
In truth, I wished to be anywhere but there. But plans had been arranged, and I was without options, unwillingly caught in a corner. If it had been just myself and Bridget, I could have convinced her to forgo the evening – although, not without much effort and cajoling. But we were to meet my good friend Simon and his lovely wife Jennifer… and I am a man who keeps his word and his commitments.
I do everything in my power to please my beautiful perfect wife. I desperately wish for her to remain happy, to stay with me. Unfortunately, she has been pulling away for a while – our marriage has been a struggle these past few years. For the sake of my children, and myself, I can’t let her go.
To that end, I accompany her wherever she wishes, I surprise her with gifts, and essentially let her boundless energy wear me out repeatedly.
I was exhausted. The troubles of the week had worn me out. I felt raw, jagged. All I truly wished for was a quiet night with my children, perhaps popcorn and a family movie. The last place I wanted to find myself was at a busy restaurant. But unlike me, Bridget has always loved the hustle and bustle of the city.
As soon as we walked in, the noise grated my nerves – what seemed like hundreds of simultaneous conversations, kitchen noise, and a hum which was probably only noticed by myself, as I tend to suffer from sensory sensitivity. As Bridget chatted quickly with the maître d’, I inhaled a deep breath, and willed myself to relax a little, as I often need to do.
When I turned around, I saw her.
Her lovely eyes were fixed on me. I looked away instantly, not able to maintain eye contact with this beautiful stranger. But in the fraction of a second I was blessed enough to have, I saw everything. I noticed her dark thick wavy hair, and her big eyes; a soulful dark shade of brown. And those lips, ruby red, full and luscious; the kind of lips that can turn proper respectable men into lunatics – men much like myself. And the curve of her hips in that striking dress…
She stood out from the crowd – like a vision – a shiny spark of color in the otherwise very monochrome room. She reminded me of the silver screen actresses; a modern-day Katharine Hepburn, Lauren Bacall or Vivien Leigh. I admired these women as a child, when my mother and I delighted in classic films. These films are some of the very few fond memories I have of my mother. It was the only time she seemed to enjoy my company; the rare occasion I didn’t seem to press her nerves. All I had to do was remain quiet and enjoy the films with her. I was very good at being quiet. I still am.
She was with a man; good looking and slightly unkempt, a rugged type. Bridget and I took a seat next to them on the banquette as we waited for our table. I did not dare look at her again, but every inch of my being sought to do so. Bridget made polite small talk with the attractive man. I personally, am not one for these kinds of social dances. I only speak when I have something worthy to offer. And I only ask questions when I’m truly curious. I venture out of my comfort zone when I am intrigued. And I was very curious about her.
I finally dared a look in her direction, and I studied her. My gaze travelled from the soft curve of her calf, to the skirt of her pink dress, the swell of her breasts, the profile of her flawless face, and finally to her delicate hands; white as snow, red-tipped. She wore a wedding ring, to my dismay. I was disappointed by the fact that this complete stranger belonged to someone else. I was jealous. The utter ridiculousness of this emotion did not escape me. When she caught my gaze, I instantly recognized that flicker of interest… of awareness. A soft smile and a blush on her cheeks was all I could cling to before she tore her gaze away. My heartbeat sped, taking me completely by surprise.
I don’t usually react in this manner.
I’m told I’m an attractive man. But when I study my reflection in the mirror, I do not see it. All I see is a stiff stance, and an overly serious fellow. But I do often see that glimmer of attraction in the expressions of women around me, be it the barista at my favorite coffee shop, one of my secretaries, or my marketing executive.
I’ve always been indifferent. In this sense, my wife is secure. I’ve only ever touched another woman when my wife has given me the permission to do so. Thus far, there has only been my wife, and two other women. I admire, but I do not necessarily need to touch.
But somehow… I wanted to touch this one. Desperately. Like a child needs to touch everything that glitters.
What if I had my wife’s permission to do so? I mused. Even so, I highly doubted her husband would ever let me lay my hands on his beautiful wife.
My phone rang and jolted me out of my ill-advised reverie. If this beautiful woman, this complete stranger, could read my thoughts, she would be appalled, I admitted to myself.
Simon informed me he and his wife would not join us. Typically, I would have been a little vexed by the cancellation, but I wasn’t. Because the plans Simon had proposed had led me to this moment. I had seen the most captivating woman, and even if I never had a chance to utter a single word to her, the moment had left its mark on me.
I was sure we would be pulled away to our respective tables soon enough, and I would lose sight of her. But then, fate intervened. I believe in fate. I am a very logical man, but somehow I believe in this completely irrational concept. I suppose I’m a romantic – the result of the afore-mentioned classic love stories enjoyed with my mother, I’m sure.
When her husband stood to speak to the maître d’, I noticed how large he was. I estimated he had a few inches and a good forty pounds on me. He seemed like the type of man who could handle himself decently in a brawl. The kind of man who could surely flatten me in a second. His jaw was unshaven and his hair too long. He seemed like a free-spirit, carefree, much like his wife. I could only envy them. For I unfortunately am not carefree – my mind never ceases to work.
And for that reason, despite the fact that I hadn’t even spoken to her, I knew she would consume me for the next few days, until eventually, I would be distracted by work.
I listened carefully as he argued with the maître d’ over a reserved table. Apparently, they didn’t have one. I couldn’t help but smirk a little. I’ve always taken a small pleasure in irresponsible people like him finding themselves in these kinds of situations. I was sure they would leave soon.
But then I heard my beautiful wife say, “I have an idea. You nice folks could have dinner with us,” she suggested.
And my heart ceased to beat. Just for a second, thankfully.
“Our friends have just cancelled on us, and we have a table for four,” she informed them, in her usual cheerful tone. “It seems like fate, doesn’t it?”
Yes… it was fate.
I truly believe this.
The beautiful couple thanked us profusely, seemingly a tad ill-at-ease. They were skittish, understandably – we were complete strangers.
“You two really don’t strike me as sociopaths,” my wife jested.
I spotted a hint of a smile on the beautiful woman’s face when I finally mustered the courage to look at her again. But unfortunately, it was just for a moment and then she was serious once more. And I desperately wanted to see her smile again.
“Well, sociopaths do come in many shapes and sizes,” I added, holding my voice steady. My heart showed its presence as it pounded hard. “But regardless… I think we’ll take our chances and live dangerously.”
The most beautiful smile stretched across her lovely face. And it was for me. Just for me. I savored its unique almost childlike quality. It was inviting, playful and so, so very sweet. But then, she raised her hand to her mouth, and covered it. And I desperately wanted to pull that cruel hand away, and see that intoxicating smile once more.
This was it. This was the moment Mirella stole my heart.