She smiled politely as she brushed past me, undoubtedly on her way to work—as was I—her perfume lingering in the air before being unceremoniously swept away by a fiendish gust of wind. I glanced behind myself—wishing, hoping perhaps even praying that she would turn as well to give me another smile—it would be another arduous 24 hours before I saw her again. The miserable heat of disappointment rushed along my neck. Once again, as always and to be expected, she continued on her way, without so much as a partway glance to the side to lift my spirits.
Of course, why would she smile back at me—I was an invisible speck in her world, just another face, another lonely man, another gawking spectator of her unfailing timeless beauty. I was being foolish to think a woman of her grace and her undeniable power would ever notice a man like me—but wait, what was this? My heart leapt at the sight. At that very moment God had looked down on me in absolute pity and had gifted me an opportunity—one that I had so miserably failed to take since the day I had first laid eyes on her.
She dropped her keys. What chance! Once again, heat raced up my body, flooding my face with the spirited redness of exaltation. I raced to pick them up, already pre-planning the words I would say to her, envisioning our conversation in a matter of seconds.
“Excuse me, miss?” She turned around, a slight curve in her lips indicating the beginnings of a polite smile. “You dropped your keys.”
She grabbed at her coat pocket and laughed, a disbelieving laugh filled with good humor and her own gratitude for me. “Thank you.” She reached out to receive them. Our hands touch, and I feel it—that spark that is only ever read about but regretfully, seldom truly felt. Our eyes meet and I know she feels it too. In that instant I know we’d talk about this moment for years to come, we’d tell our grandchildren when asked the time-old question, how we met, that it was love at first sight on a cold winter day outside the subway station. They would hold that image in their minds and it would guide them in their journey as they too searched in earnest for their one true love, knowing in their hearts that it was possible—because Nana and Papa had experienced it themselves. In that moment, time was mine and all else faded away into a blur of lines and soundless images. I could feel a gravity-like pull forcing our bodies together as we leaned our faces toward each other to touch lips—
“Excuse me, miss? You dropped your keys,” I heard a deep gravely voice say.
Suddenly, time was no longer mine. I looked at my feet to see that they had not in fact moved more than an inch in that span of time. The rage of disbelief consumed my every breath as I witnessed the exchange before me.
Her face lit up as she laughed, taking the keys from the man who had retrieved them from the ground. They exchanged pleasantries and turned from each other, ignoring the significance of such a moment. Thankfully—mercifully—taking for granted their missed opportunity!
I sighed in relief. The wind seemed to understand my sentiment and enveloped me in a brief gust of coolness, which served to temper the adrenaline that had been unleashed at the sight of her smile.
I still had a chance.