You don’t see me, but I see you. Every morning I watch you from my usual table, walk across Laraby Street to grab a bagel from Lou’s Bakery. You stride with purpose, looking straight forward. Your black hair seems to radiate in the sun, reflecting its rays to the world around you.
I watch you duck your head to enter the bakery, and hear the bell tinkle as the door shuts behind you. You laugh with Lou and ask him how his children are doing. Fine, he responds, saying that Cecilia just started her senior year. You congratulate him and make your way to a worn table with an onion bagel and the funnies section of the paper.
I hear you laugh out loud, not a small chuckle, but a booming noise signaling your enjoyment. I would love to laugh like that with you, giggling for hours,but you don’t see me. You flip the page of the paper, on the hunt for the next batch of comics.
Each day I come here. Waiting. Wishing. To be noticed. To make you notice. To draw some of your attention to me, that I might stand out, even a little.
At home, I think of outrageous things I can do to distinguish myself. I thought once about bumping into your table and spilling my coffee on your pants. I nixed that idea, the possibility of lasting damage was too high. I just want to meet you after all, not leave you horribly disfigured.
Taking a bite of your bagel, you look around at the crowded bakery, and for a second I think your eyes finally rest on me. They slow down, but quickly dart back to the task at hand. You chew thoughtfully.
I thought about wearing a scandalous outfit, in hopes that you might admire me. And while you might admire, so will the other men in the bakery. Exhibitionism is not for me. I flip my red hair over my shoulder, I hope the sun’s rays bounce off of it and draw your attention to me.
I even briefly entertained the idea of hiring a man to dump me dramatically and without thought at the bakery in hopes that, in your kindness, you would try and comfort me.
They sound pathetic attempts, even to my ears.
You are just a man my friends say. But you are a man I find endlessly fascinating. I can’t seem to pull myself away. You like Kansas, I saw the cd once when I walked by. But you also like Missy Higgins, the tune you hum under your breath is one of my favorites. I heard you tell Lou of your enjoyment of Adam Sandler films , and just moments later, confess a love for Gone with the Wind. Based solely on it cinematic achievement, of course. Davis Hart, even your name is lovely.
You are an enigma, and I want to know you. I am shy, and so I wait. Wait for you to notice, or wait until I gain the courage to make you notice.
* * *
You are back again today, the copper-haired beauty I try desperately not to stare at each morning. Just as yesterday, you eat a scone and sip on coffee. You concentrate as you select a book from your bag. Your brow is wrinkled and you look to be thinking very hard about something. I see you, but you don’t see me.
I asked Lou about you. What your name is, what you do, who you are. He looked at me with a knowing grin and laughed. It took him several mornings to pull together the information I wanted. You are Verity Jones, 24 years old, with a love of books. I can see that. Each day I watch you dig into a new book. The turnaround time is something to be marveled at.
I watch you tuck a stray strand of hair behind your ear. You turn the page silently. Across the cover the words The Road, are stamped carefully. I have read the book, all about the darkness of humanity and the capacity to hope for the future.
I want to walk by your table and casually mention the story. Explain how I felt reading of the father’s struggle. I want to analyze the barren setting with you, and ask you to explain the ending.
You pop the last bit of scone in your mouth and wash it down with a swig of coffee. Your breakfast is coming to a close, and once again I do nothing to make you notice. The waiting is unbearable. I want to know if we would suit.
I look at you, and for a second I think you see me too, but I turn away. You were not looking at me, were you, but at the clock behind my head? I sigh and take another bite of my bagel. The old lady by the window laughs. I’m sure she caught me staring. She looks at me and grins.
One day I will do it. I will talk to you. Ask you to eat breakfast at my table the next day. I am discouraged by the thought that you already have a boyfriend. Why would you not? You are young, beautiful, and smart. But why would he leave you alone for so long , right? There is still cause for hope, right?
I’ve thought about asking Lou to mess up our orders so that we can bump into each other on the way to sort it out, but that seems a little convoluted.
I only need one good plan, though, to get the job done. You look like you are finished and you stand up. You grab your bag and start walking towards the door, stopping by the garbage can to throw away your trash. You continue on towards me, making your exit. Do it. Do it. My heart is beating, pounding. Making so much noise I am sure the rest of the diners can hear it clearly. I stand abruptly as you near, making you jump back in surprise. You drop your book and I bend down to retrieve it. Opportunity! I look up and see your green eyes wide and staring. The smell of you perfume drifts around me. Vanilla, cinnamon, perfection. You smile. I smile.
I see you, and now you see me, too.
* * *
You stand so quickly, I am caught off guard. I drop my book in surprise. You bend down to pick it up and return it to me. I want to touch your hair to see if it is as soft as I imagine it to be. Lifting your head I encounter deep brown eyes, intent on mine. You smile. I smile.
I see you, and now you see me, too.