Sunday, November 29, 2015

Living Stories: Kafka Woman

The thing was that he didn't want to send out the wrong signals. There was no denying the facts: he was much older than her and she was, no question, beautiful. This random encounter – so far quite a lovely thing - could quite easily turn into the clumsiest of cliches.

Maybe it was best left alone. Left to fade to the faintest of sweet memories.

But what if he was – yet again – missing an opportunity? Hadn't he already missed his opportunity with her? Only for her to return, for the memory of her to return, for him to be given the chance to thank her and talk to her and get to know her a little.

She had been sitting in his cafe. Her beauty and serenity had caught his eye. He didn't feel love or lust, but he was entranced. That she was reading one of his stories intrigued him further. Which one was she reading? What was she thinking as she read? He kept glancing over, entranced and intrigued as she read.

Later, while he had been busy making coffee that he knew they would enjoy, he heard an accent ask his helper a question: Excuse me, can you tell me who is the author of the stories?

His helper had looked at him. He had looked at the customer and smiled: I am the author of the stories, he had said.

She had smiled like she knew, a smile of peace and knowing.

I loved your story - she had said in a way that made him forget what he was doing - It was so sad and so beautiful.

He had felt such gratitude hearing these words. Thank you, he had told her, for telling me this. It means so much to me that my stories reach people but I never know.

It moved me so much, I had tears as I read it.

Ah, he had replied, I had tears as I wrote it. A sad smile of gratitude, then he had remembered the mundane thing of work and had shifted his attention.

She lingered, seemed to want to say something, could see that he was busy and wished him a good day.

And was gone.

He watched her go.

I think, his helper had said, that she wanted to talk to you.

This was true. As true as the fact that she was gone. He said something about next time, knowing as he said it that she was a traveller, perhaps passing through, perhaps never coming back. Losing focus, he had heated the milk too much, tipped it out and started again.

But she came back. She was looking for work, would like to work in his cafe. She wanted to leave her contact details in case there was work for her. He didn't recognise her immediately. He wondered why there was such friendly warmth in this traveller's smile. Then the memory fell into place and this time there was no room for the mundane things. He was not going to miss this opportunity again. Fortunately it was the quiet time of the day. Perhaps she had planned it that way.

You were here a few weeks ago, weren't you.


And you told me you enjoyed my story.


Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. It means a lot to me. And thank you so much for coming back. It felt like you had wanted to talk.

I did. Your story has stayed so much on my mind. It's so strong, the way life moves on... it is such beautiful writing.

Thank you. It's just a thing I do. Stories are all around us, happening all the time. Some of us have to write them down. Are you a writer?


And they talked and talked the way only very old old or very new friends talk. She told him about her play that she had written and produced, and about the other things she had written but not yet shared. They both asked questions and gave answers. They told each other about the tricks needed to get the words flowing, about the pleasure found in writing the perfect piece. He made her a coffee that she said was perfect, and she stayed and they talked and when finally he had to get back to the mundane things of cleaning up and closing down, she sang a peaceful song to herself in his empty cafe, perhaps for herself, perhaps for him. Her voice was exquisite.

Eventually, it was time for her to go. They thanked each other for whatever it was they had given each other, and once again he watched her go.

And now, weeks later, he was worried about sending out the wrong signals. He thought that maybe he should just let it go because it could so easily become the clumsiest of cliches. And yet... what if it could be the perfect friendship? What if, like him, she was a solitary soul who rarely opens, but opens fully in the right company?

He had no work for her, but he had her contact details. He could write to her. He could tell her about a new story he had written. She could come back into the cafe to read the story and they could talk and...

And what? Could they really become friends? Could true friendship really come out of this random chance encounter with a stranger? Why not? Stranger things had happened.

And yet. Maybe it was best left to fade to the most perfect of memories. She had come into his cafe. She had read his story. They had talked. End of story.

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