Well needless to say, these sorts of mishaps never rectify themselves that quickly. So of course, I didn’t see her the following weekend or the weekend after that…well it wasn’t until several weekends later (well…5 weekends to be precise, but who’s counting right?) that I saw her again. Up until that weekend I was timing my trips to the market to make sure I didn’t miss seeing her. I figured people liked to get mundane things like groceries out of the way as soon as possible. This weekend in particular though, I didn’t even bother with the time, it was a state of emergency sort of day that entailed lots of visitors and not enough food, wine or spirited beverages to get through the barrage of questions that were headed my way.
In my haste, I didn’t even bother looking for Ms. Fruit Cocktail; in fact, she completely slipped my mind…until I heard this soft lilting sound that seemed to reverberate within my chest. It was truly a weird feeling, I thought my heartburn had returned with the vengeance, but it felt different from my usual heartburn assaults.
How can I describe this feeling? It traversed the path of the emotional spectrum somewhere between being a light yet heavy and warm, settling, pressure alleviating, reassuring…hell comforting even sensation erupting from my chest and spreading like a wildfire through my veins. That reverberating sensation was so intense, that for a moment I foolishly thought my phone was going off…and me rifling through my pockets for my phone like an idiot, only showcased my complete ineptitude with emotions and feelings. I mean who has time for emotions when your life is potentially on the line with timelines and people to be fed?!
I followed the soft chuckle, well it felt more like I was being pulled towards the source…you know, like a magnetic pull, where she was the magnet and I was the metallic debris gravitating towards her. It wasn’t until I was right behind her that I realized I was standing right behind her, and my treacherous mind and body all acted on it’s own accord without any authorization or rationalization. Before I realized what I was doing my hand reached out and tapped her back, which effectively put an end to that soft, magical sound…and suddenly brought me back to the current moment. I was met with a curious set of expressive eyes. If I thought I had attention issues with her laugh, those eyes stole my breath away. For some reason, I forgot what I was trying to tell her, her gaze searched mine with curiosity that transitioned to mild irritation due to my inability to speak. I can understand the irritation, hell I was feeling the same way with my inability to generate words. Sure I’m not much of a talker, and my fists do most of my talking, but I was quite capable of conducting a basic human conversation.
Once again I was snapped out of my head static by a voice that blew my mind away. I mean how is it even possible for someone to constantly keep renewing the definition of wonder? Bloody hell! Was there anything about her that didn’t render me ineffective and an utterly incapable human being? I blinked a few times before I registered her question…
“Can I help you?”
With a jolt, I thrust her bag in her direction, which effectively caused both of us to jolt at the unexpected response to her question. I think I wanted to face-palm myself right then, but that would make an awkward situation far worse…which she never failed to mention at every opportunity she got…especially when said opportunity involved family and friends.
“Erm okay? Why do you have my bag? Have you been stalking me? Are you one of those creepy dudes? In which case I must warn you I will pepper spray you to kingdom come if you try anything. I have ninja skills you DO NOT want to mess around with.”
Her eyes were like a book with rapid transitioning chapters, that I was getting quite mesmerized by…until there was a slight shriek to her next question.
“Hey creepy bag dude! Why aren’t you answering my questions?! Do I need to call the cops?!”
She quickly turned around to get the vendor’s attention to call law enforcement. That’s when I realized I needed to do or say something fast.
“Hey Fruit Cocktail! Calm down!”
Okay, maybe not my best moment as far as conversational skills were concerned, but she was losing her marbles.
“What did you just call me?” she asked with a look of indignation.
Ugh, I really hate small talk, that too face-palming small talk.
“Sorry, I don’t know your name and you were over-reacting with the incessant questions. I understand this situation looks odd, especially when a guy introduces himself by literally shoving a bag in your direction. But, this bag belongs to you, you swapped it out with mine a few weekends ago. There’s a particular diet regimen I follow, and basically you picked my bag up and left while all I wound up with when I got back to my place, was a bag full of berries and assorted fruits enough for a fruit cocktail and maybe even a tropical punch. Besides, I don’t like keeping things that don’t belong to me, and I like to return stuff if I know who it belongs to.”
I was met with a look of amazement after what I thought was a decent introduction, hell explanation. But as I learned over time, what you think isn’t what is perceived or received by the other party.
“So not only are you insulting me, now you’re admitting to stealing my groceries!!!! Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t call the cops on you?!”
“Erm because lady, if I stole your stuff why would I come up to you and return your bags and tell you that you swapped your fruit cocktail with my stellar food choices?”
“You mean the assortment of leaves that would put all herbivores to shame?”
“Aah so you do remember?” I remarked with a slight smirk on my face.
“Your food choices aren’t stellar, they’re very leafy and fibrous and really really fibrous. What do you do with those many vegetables? I mean I don’t even recognize some of them from the usual assortment that most normal people are used to.”
“Being normal is over-rated, and that’s why you’re you and I’m me. Some of us have a deeper appreciation for all the things the world has to offer. Besides they help me with my routine and regimens.”
“The only routine I see that assortment of fiber working out for is someone with chronic constipation. Besides who says routines and regimens? Are you in the military or part of law enforcement or something?” she countered with a slight smirk.
“No, I’m a fighter…”
“I thought the saying for guys like you was I’m a lover not a fighter?” she questioned with a smile.
I couldn’t stop myself from chuckling.
“No, I’m a fighter. You know, a pro fighter? You know, like boxing, MMA…or mixed martial arts as it’s called…that sort of thing”
Realization dawned in her eyes…quickly followed by her eyes giving me a quick once over.
“You don’t look like much of a fighter to me.” She muttered.
“Wow…judgmental much? Haven’t you heard that old saying? Don’t judge a book by it’s cover? Anyway, here you go, this belongs to you. I’m in a bit of a rush, and hopefully the next time we bump into each other you won’t ‘Pepper spray me to Kingdom Come’ Miss Fruit Cocktail?”
“And you’re terrible at coming up with monikers for people. Please stop calling me Fruit Cocktail. If you must address me, my name is Mia.”
“Aah Mama Mia it’s Fruit Cocktail time!’ I have no idea where that came from, but yeah that definitely wasn’t a smooth move on my part.
“Remember that pepper spray? It’s not just a decoration piece, my name feels threatened and I won’t hesitate to use it on you.” She replied with a smirk on her face and a twinkle in her eye.
“Alright alright, take it easy Mia. My name is Max, and it’s nice to meet you. As much as I’d love to stick around and talk, I really have to get going. Sorry, can we pick this up later?”
I think I had an apologetic look on my face, or at least I thought I did, as I looked frantically between my watch and her.
“Who is to say there will be a next time Max?” she asked in a rather curious tone.
I shrugged before answering.
“Well that’s just the way things work. Besides, fate and destiny play the strangest of games. Think about it, if we weren’t meant to meet, why would we swap names?”
“Who is to say my name is actually Mia?” she challenged.
“There’s an honesty in your eyes. You would’ve hesitated to give me your name if you weren’t comfortable doing so.” I replied confidently.
“Aren’t you just a little too full of yourself?”
“Eh…some habits are just too hard to break.” I replied.
“Listen I’m sorry, I truly am, but I must get going. Take care, have a wonderful day, enjoy your fruit cocktail and here’s until next time.” I said, as I extended my hand out.
She eyed me with a look of curiosity and a pinch of uncertainty, before she grabbed my hand and said,
“Until next time Max.”
With that she took her bag, and we returned to our lives. That was just the start of the whirlwind madness that was about to sweep us off our feet.
I still remember the look in her eyes, how her hair framed that beautiful face…wait did she have her hair up or down? Wait if I can remember that chain around her neck, it was always more noticeable with her hair up. Did we swap numbers that day? Or was it the next time around? Why can’t I remember? There was more to that day…but I guess the little things don’t matter, not when the most important details are still intact.
Those eyes could find and lead me anywhere. They guided me through so many storms, almost as if they’re my compass, or better yet, my lighthouse. They’re the home I was always able to return to until I couldn’t…then they became the only thing I kept fighting to see…like right in this moment. I see the panic in those beautiful brown eyes, and all I can do is smile back with hope and affirmation.
There’s nothing to panic about my love, it’s just another fall and what goes down eventually does come back up. There are tears swimming in her eyes, I try and reach out to wipe the tear tracks off her face, but for some reason I can’t seem to reach her face. Those shimmering eyes don’t deserve to have any tears, at least not on my account…. not anymore; she has shed enough and more of them in my name over time.
Why can’t my hands reach her face, and wipe those tears away? My arms are not bound, if anything I’m down on my side surrounded by all these people in a room drowned by silence. I can see their mouths moving, but I can’t hear the words, and everything is getting more distorted. The only thing I can see and feel with any amount of clarity are her eyes.