“There was the distant call of a firetruck. I did not feel distress then, but I do now. I feel like I remember more than I saw. It is not my memory that deceives me, it is my conscious mind that does. Do you hear the chirping of the birds or do you hear my voice?”
“I hear it all, but I’m only listening to you. Keep talking.”
“I was standing in front of the glass panel by a storefront. It was a shop that sold hats. I love hats. I’ve stood at that window everyday, but have never gone inside. The hats catch the sun in the evenings. They cast their shadows on the wooden shelves. How I love those wooden shelves with their golden shimmer- like the sweat of caramel in candle light.”
“Sounds lovely. Tell me something, why don’t you wear a hat?”
“I love the sun too much.”
She was a beautiful girl. I felt quite lucky talking to her. It was a Thursday. I remember it for no particular significance. She had broken into tears in front of a stranger– me– and being as awkward as I was, I did not know what to do. So I did nothing.
I was sitting by the street, on the stairs that lead up to my house. I had made a cup of chocolate to enjoy with the evening. I don’t remember if I was reading a book. If I did have one in my hands, I doubt I was reading it anyway. I love the smell of books more than I love books. But perhaps that is a lie.
She was walking up the hill with her cycle by her side. I live on a hill far too steep for cycling. She needed a rest and I needed somebody to talk to. We exchanged artless smiles with our practiced pleasantries. She sat next to me and heaved a sigh. I had nothing to say so I said nothing. That is when she broke into tears.
She was beautiful in her sorrow. Fragile like a thin sheet of glass shattered by a flower in the breeze. When she stopped crying I offered her a cup of chocolate. She told me she loved chocolate but hated its smell. I was disappointed, but at least it saved me a trip indoors. I waited in the silence, hoping for it to end.
It did. And it was wonderful. She never told me why she cried and I never asked. I’ve been cried to before, this felt like I was cried at. I don’t mind being cried at. We spoke of music she’d never heard and books I’d never read. I told her of places she’d never been and she told me of food I’d never tasted. An hour went by and with it, the sun. She stood up to leave and it hit me at that moment that I did not know her name. But I did not need it because I knew her by her laughter and her tears. She had not asked me for mine.
“Did you go inside?”, I mumbled absently. I looked at her. “The hat shop– did you go inside?”
“No”, she said.
“There was no door. Just a window.”, she said as she walked into the night.