I head off to a nearby cafe before I retire off home. I order a medium latte, then sit down right beside the window, watching the world go by on this regular, mid-Autumn afternoon. I peer at my watch; 5:17, take a deep sigh, then sip my steaming latte. Reaching into the chest pocket of my jacket for my pack of Purple Clovers, I spot a familiar looking face. I edge my face closer to the glass and squint my eyes for a better view. Darcy? Indeed it was her, sitting outside a small bagel restaurant on the opposite side of the road from the coffee shop I am in. I gentle my gaze and put a cigarette to my lips, all the while still staring at Darcy. She’s sat alone with an empty plate and the wrapper to whatever she’d eaten. I see her lips moving and realise she’s on the phone.
Darcy is the girl I’d only spotted not 3 months ago, who’d apparently been attending the same college as me. Never had I seen her beforehand and whenever I contemplate this, I always come to think how could I have not noticed such a face? She was in effect stunning. Every one of my peers, both boys and girls, thought so, too. Golden-blonde hair which trickled gracefully halfway down her back, light brown-cross-green eyes, an alluringly beautiful smile completed with a brilliantly white set of teeth, a slender, thinnish body with elegant fingers. She possessed a certain cleanness and purity about her presence. What struck me the most about the way she looked is how simplistic she looked; she was not overdone with products or a particularly fancy hairdo. Just plain old, beautiful Darcy.
A third way down my Purple Clover, I sip my latte to inquire its temperature. Still warm but cool enough to drink. A waitress attends my table and asks if I would like anything else. “No, I’m fine for now. Thanks.” I say with a smile. Before she gives a response my attention quickly turns back to Darcy who’s still sat there. She hangs the phone up, puts it into her black handbag and substitutes her phone for a pack of cigarettes. She then dignifiedly lights one up and smokes. Her head rested on her left hand, supporting the weight with her bony elbow on the table, and her other arm laying across the table with her hand which has the cigarette in hovering over the ashtray, right leg crossed over left. She sits casually, smoking in no particular hurry. Is she waiting for somebody?
I think over on whether to go speak to her or not. We’d spoken a few times in person, but only socially or when we’d randomly bumped into each other on the road or in college or one time when she was leaving the gym as I entered. I’d never had a lengthy conversation with her so this time may prove to be somewhat.. Awkward. Besides, I might have been intruding on her afternoon post-lunchtime snack time or a peaceful smoke. I leave the thought, and simply continue to observe.
Some 90 seconds later, she dubs her cigarette out in the ashtray, and puts the packet away in her handbag. She then brings out a small hand-mirror from her bag along with a soft red lipstick and applies it before taking a sip of bottled water and eating what appears to be a mint. She then stands up and my stomach seems to tug a heavy drop. As if her and my stomach are on a seesaw, her rising removes weight and in result my stomach sinks. Darcy walks off naturally stylishly, and I’m left half hoping she spots me, half relieved that she doesn’t. Soon after, I finish my latte and head home.
The thought of seeing Darcy still lingers in my head, and I mull over a number of scenarios of how things would have turned out if I’d approached her. I picture myself crossing the road to go greet her, then us having a comfortable exchange of words. How-have-you-been or how-are-things-going type of conversation, you know, petty talk. We’d then get deep in the conversation and arrange a proper dinner-date on the following Thursday or something. After a successful meal, we start to meet regularly? Or perhaps I’m waiting at the traffic lights to go approach her and before I reach, another man takes the seat opposite her, and I’m left with a great big sulk?
I continue tossing these thoughts around my head when it occurs to me that I’d gotten her number off a friend a few weeks ago. Deliberating on whether to call her or not, I sit up on my bed with my phone placed in both hands. What if she’s asleep? I ask myself. It’s 9:40pm, what 18-year-old sleeps at this time. I finally bring myself to calling her phone. “If she does not pick up after 9 rings, I’m hanging up”, I mandate to myself. A deep sigh to prepare.
On the 6th ring, Darcy picks up.
“Hello?”, she starts in her soft voice. Taken aback, and unprepared, my mind lags, refusing my vocal chords to utter a response. “Hello?”. She tries again. Without allowing my brain to process it, I bark out a stuttered greeting.
“H-hey… It’s me”. I realise how trivial saying ‘It’s me’ sounds, knowing full well she doesn’t have my number, or even know I have hers. So before she answers, I say my name.
“Oh.. hey, how’s it going?” she says in a tone of confusion. Although, she gives a fair effort of concealing the confusion with a friendlier tone.
“I’m not too bad, I guess. How about you?”
The conversation goes on moderately boring. What have you been up to. Where do you stay now. Plans for the weekend. That sort of thing. She tells me she’s just got out the shower, and she places me on loudspeaker, clearly not paying full attention to the rubbish I’m mouthing. I ask her what she’s planning on doing this year, as she’s finished college. She tells me she’s moving to New Zealand in just under 2 weeks. This takes me by surprise.
“For real? What are the reasons? You excited? Sad? How long for?”
“Woah-woah-woah, slow down” she says with a small laugh. “My dad’s found a permanent job out there after doing a 2 year placement, he seems really up for it. Good paying, too. We’ve all always wanted to move out of here some day, and I guess there seems to be no better or suitable time than this, I suppose. I’m really quite excited, you know, the whole ‘starting a new life’ feeling. It could be good for us”. What she says sounds scripted, the typical ‘my-dad’s-found-work-abroad’ type of idiomatic reasoning. I remain silent for some time, trying to take this all in.
“Well, as long as you’re happy” I say. I hold back a slight anger to my tone. Anger? Why anger? Have I developed feelings or some kind of infatuation for this girl? No, can’t be. I’ve only known her, what, 3 months and I’m acting like she gave me false hope. Hope for what anyway? These questions play around in my head. I feel a slight build up on my throat. A weird emotion overwhelms me for a moment. A mixture of sadness and a lack of interest.
The emotion then subsides as I remember her saying she’d just come out of the shower. I picture her sat on the edge of her bed, wrapped in her towel, with droplets of water still stationed on her smooth, delicate skin. Her soaking golden hair, all placed to one side on her slender shoulder, routinely caressing it gently and draining the remains of excess moisture with another smaller towel. Her tender, long legs, polished to perfection with a golden tan. I mentally linger around the rest of her body, the whole while she is speaking. My turn not paying attention. I’m swept back to the conversation by an abrupt pause, as if she’s realised I was not fully listening due to my irresponsiveness.
“Oh.. sorry. I got caught up thinking about you moving so suddenly.”
The chat doesn’t go on for much longer after that. She suggests we meet up sometime before she leaves.
“Yeah” she says half-heartedly. An uncomfortable silence follows, for about the 70th time in this one phone call.
“Well”, I break, “I’d better let you get on with whatever you’ve got to do. I’m sure you’re very busy now, leading up to your fleeing to Auckland”,
“You’re quite right”.
“Best of luck, I’ll see you soon” I throw in.
“Thanks”. She hangs up.
I let out a deep, deep sigh. The type of sigh which is subsequent to bad news, or a result of hopelessness. Was this really bad news, and do I even feel hopeless? You’re overreacting, I tell myself. She probably forgot me anyway, or even my name. I lay down on my bed gazing into the ceiling. The thought occurs to me that this ‘meeting’ we are supposedly going to have really isn’t going to happen. I close my eyes, and drown myself in thought. As per usual.