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As you saunter over to tap her on the shoulder, I feel as if I'm watching, in slow motion, a scene I've seen a million times. The eyebrows arched in surprise, the open mouth of recognition, the dazzling smile preceding the laugh – my God, she still doesn't know. No one knows.
By the end of the hour, she'll be won over by your undeniable charm. Your looks don't hurt either: tousled sandy hair, understanding green-gray eyes, a lopsided smile, and one infuriating dimple in your left cheek when you grin.
She'll give you her number. You'll call the next morning, full of flattery and humorous anecdotes – I always wondered, did you look those up on the Internet beforehand? You'll arrange to meet that night, maybe at a posh café or for the newly released blockbuster film. You will laugh and joke and enthrall her once more.
And it will begin.
You will drive her home in your father's rusty red Honda. You will twist the key slowly as you turn off the engine, and you will hint at a next time – will there be one? Of course, she'll assure you, as she places a delicate hand on your warm arm, of course there will be.
A beat of silence. Then, in that captivating way that only you know, you will raise those green-gray eyes to hers. Perhaps she will remark how uncannily like the ocean they are. She does this in hopes of your lips on hers. She does not know that it has already been scheduled for the next date. There will be no kiss tonight.
You will let her go, leaving her shaking knees to turn to soft pudding. You will drive away, dust trailing behind your wheels. She will unlock her front door and stumble up to her bedroom, unaware of what she has just begun. She does not know yet what is to come.
You will spin your web oh so carefully, and she will begin to truly care. She will often recall your first kiss, that jolting sensation of your mouth brushing past her trembling lips. She will read and re-read the sentimental love letters and poems she keeps in a locked box under her bed. She does not realize her time has almost run out.
Then, one day, you will lead her away for a “talk.” She will be beside herself with stunned, salty tears. You will pat her on the back as you would a dog and walk away, leaving her with so many questions: how and when and why? She will call out for you, but her throat will be congested with fear and regret. She will sit shakily and review your history, trying to identify what she did wrong. She does not realize that she has done nothing but fall prey to your charm.
All this I envision in a tenth of a second: the tears, the memories, the unsaid. As I watch your lips move and your green-gray eyes flash with the thrill of the game, I do not notice her faltering smile and her furrowed brow. Instead, I see your mouth form a small “O” of shock as she collects her belongings and strolls away. As she passes the place where I sit watching, I glimpse the faintest hint of a smile, the corners of her lips upturning slightly in acknowledgment. Before I can react, she is gone.
I glance at you and am pleased to notice a frown disfiguring your pleasant face. Didn't see that one coming, did you? Those green-gray eyes are angry as you catch me watching. I smile in response.
Then I gather my things and, humming, follow the girl out.