Short Story

 

CHANCES

Three years, two days, ten hours, thirteen minutes and twenty nine seconds. That is the measure of time from the moment I first saw her.

Every day I see her. For one hour, I can bask in her glory and pretend my life is perfect. Pretend I live in a world that a guy like me can talk to a lady like her. Pretend to have the nerve to.

It is another busy day. The rush hour crowd is streaming in and out of the small cafeteria at regular intervals. Young men in dirty sweat-stained vests and torn pants rub shoulders with elegant ladies in dresses and men in suit and tie. The hustle and bustle is a symphony of the rhythm of days.

I sit at the corner, my usual table. It is especially hot today; the weatherman has been very vocal with dire warnings about exceptionally high temperatures. I sit at a window, but that doesn’t make much of a difference. The air is still and muggy, making individual dust motes visible. It seems that many have come inside to escape the oppressive heat outside. It smells of stale cooking grease, sweat, ‘perfume’, and ‘cologne’ bought at 100shs at Muthurwa. It settles like a warm blanket around us.

In the crowd I lose sight of her at times, though her voice still carries to me as if she were speaking in my ear. Oh, her voice. Like the melody of wind chimes, guiding the weary traveler in me home. Like the first glass of water, refreshing me after my travels. For me it was like finding the treasure where once was marked X.

” Hallo, my name is Sharon, what will your order be today?” She asks me.

How did she come to be in front of me without my notice? Does she not recognize me?

As I fumble with my answer, while trying not to feel hurt by her not recognizing me, I hear the distant trumpet of a bullhorn. As if pulled by the same puppet string, all the bodies attached to murky white sweaty vests stand as one and leave. I stand up and join my fellow laborers at the door, casting one last longing glance at her, still standing by my table. None of us can afford to lose the day’s wages by being late.

I will see her tomorrow.

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