I chose the seat facing the mirror. Odd, because I would normally not pick a seat where my back is to the room, especially when the view is of me sipping with with two hands from a white cup as large as my face. The conversation was lively with three women legally high on splurge purchases of the day and over-priced caffeine. Mostly we reminisced about the taste of hot beignets at Café Du Monde and plotting our next trip to New Orleans. Then he opened the door, bringing with him a whirlwind of heat instantly felt against my bare legs.
He wore a long sleeved, gray shirt, two buttons opened, neatly tucked into black trousers. Handsome, but the kind of attractive qualities a man is born into rather than cultivated. His skin, natural and conveyed one who doesn’t spend his time in the scorching sun of Summer. His dark hair longer on top, just enough to see the waves of rebellion, but shorter along the sides. I imagine, as a child his hair was quite curly and unruly when he was not weighted with responsibilities. I could tell this wasn’t his first time here, as he clearly knew where he wanted to sit. He walked across the old, creaky floor with confidence, bending his torso, crouching, almost gliding headfirst into his seat as if he was trying to slip in unnoticed. All his efforts to no avail. He was noticed.
He sat at the table behind me, a direct reflection in the mirror of what was just over my right shoulder. He adjusted himself into the seat, resting his ankle on his knee casually, eyes never breaking from his phone. At first I only looked at him when I raised my cup to take a sip, but then my glances grew longer, more frequent. As soon as my companions engaged in conversation with each other, I found myself staring at his reflection in the mirror. He never looked up from his phone and yet he wasn’t texting. What could he be reading so intently? What was so important to leave him in this statuesque position, never looking my way, even with the uproarious laughter of three women less than ten feet from him? I was consumed by this stranger and what his purpose for being there. The barista brought coffee and sugary things to the tables which surrounded him, but never him. After a solid fifteen minutes with no other purpose but to just sit there… my thoughts shifted to you. As if this mystery quietly slipped into my life when I least expected it, consuming my thoughts, wondering things of which I had no right to wonder. Changing my view in a very unassuming way, willingly distracting me from everything and everyone in my life. This person whom I don’t truly know, but holds my entire world in his hands. Is enigmatic, but present and open as a book. I wanted to know everything about him, and yet not knowing was the thrill of attraction. And in that moment, it was as if everything I questioned about you…me… was answered in a ten square foot area.
Time passed as if I was stuck in a void. I became anxious as I assessed how many sips and shared bites of strawberry Napoleon was left on our table. I didn’t want this to end, whatever “this” was; maybe it was silent lamenting of what could never be or the feeling of some sort of strange closeness to you in this random place, when I needed you more than ever.
"I we ready?" my cousin said with an irritating, chipper than normal voice, taking one last gulp of her Americano. I wanted someone to cue the final scene music as we rose from our seats, some dramatic number from a romantic movie you and I both love. But instead it was quiet. A deadly, end of the road in the middle of the desert quiet, with only the rumble of the chairs to break the silence. I paused long enough to focus on his reflection in the mirror, hoping the commotion of our departure would draw his attention. His elbow found its way to the table, as his fingers raised to his cheek in an L-shape, middle finger resting over his perfect lips, adjusting to find a comfortable niche. Just as he found it, his eyes raised beneath his full brows and met with mine in the mirror. I pretended to adjust my bags, just long enough to linger. His eyes, dark as night; the depths of my longing held within the windows of this stranger’s soul. The door swung open, and I felt the familiar heat against my legs once more, bringing me back to the cruel reality of leaving this moment. I flicked my sunglasses down to cover my eyes. I couldn’t see if he was still looking at me. I hoped he was, but some things are better left in the unknown.