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A Brief Infatuation


Ken Bushnell

So you're sitting in the coffee shop after a difficult morning at work. Martha, an account representative from purchasing, came down to scold you for a mistake on an order. It was minor, but you feel like floor toast, maybe good enough to feed to the dogs. Martha's mean, gruff, direct and vindictive. You have no real defense because it was your mistake and she's not going to cut you any slack. In between her appearances you turn to fellow employees for solace. None found. You're poison. No one's going to come near you till this blows over. You come to your senses and realize you have to get out of there as soon as you can. 

Devoid of all human companionship you leave when the lunch bell sounds. Down the street at the coffee shop your mind is reeling. Defeated, alone, there is a void somewhere deep inside you mirroring hopelessness and despair. Not fully comprehending it, this has also hit at a biorhythmic low. Even your metabolism seems to be caving in to the psychological defeat. Then you see her. A smile. A hint of femininity. She sips her coffee and you find yourself staring at her. A warm feeling comes over your being. Somehow this is far removed from the problems of the morning which you find yourself forgetting for the first time since they began.

She doesn't look back. The first smile happened almost by coincidence. You realize you were staring at her, she had looked up, smiled, and then looked away. Maybe you didn't respond. You were absorbed in the morning's problems and you can't remember. Now she gets up and starts to leave. She's not strikingly beautiful, by any means, plain, simple. There's something about her that is uniquely yours to appreciate. The way she moves, her femininity, her charm, she smiles at the busboy and says hello. Her voice floats across the room, a friendly alternative in your world of despair. You're enraptured. She leaves and walks out the door. You watch her drift out of view, beyond the coffee shop windows. You're vaguely aware of a tug in that direction. Sipping your coffee you try to let the moment slide by. She's out of sight, and now fading from your mind. 

Back to work. The despair starts again. You've been able to rally your spirits a little and now must face the ogres again. There's nothing you can do. You must go back to work.

That afternoon you fill out a few more orders. Some good luck. Martha's gone. The day starts to drift back into its routines. It's about half an hour before closing. Your mind wanders. You think of her, the girl in the coffee shop. She's beautiful. She was nice, gentle, maybe warm and friendly. You find yourself wanting to meet her, imagining a walk. You don't say much. You both look out over the water and feel comfortable being together. You don't have to say anything. You both just know. Your hand touches hers. She responds. The moment seems to last forever. Back to work. You have to finish up a couple of things if you're going to get out of here on time. 

Then the earthquake hits. Buildings collapse. People scream. You rush out into the streets tearing through rubble to find her. You save a small dog and three
children from the smouldering wreckage. You hear her call in the distance. You rush to find her... Wake up! Get back to reality. Hurry up and finish so you can go home.

Later that night you don't turn on the television like normal. You just sit there for a while, relieved the day is over and letting your mind wander, to her, the beautiful vision you saw in the coffee shop. Would you be friends? Would you be lovers? Dare not to let in even the most unsacred thought about her, you subliminally discipline yourself. Never mind. This is foolish. Quit dribbling over some girl you don't even know. It's time to get on with your life. Tomorrow's another day. You turn on the TV. Sitcoms. Thank goodness for sitcoms, the mindless extravaganzas. There's nothing better than to let your mind fill up with this tripe from a fictional vista.

It's Tuesday, the following day. You're instructed to attend a meeting with the head of purchasing regarding your impropriety with the customer order. You apologize profusely, grovel, and provide some pretty good reasons how this will never happen again. It's your metabolism, your psyche. Even though you left most of your pride at the meeting, somehow you're able to get on top again. 

Things are looking up. It's a new day. You've found some finality to the problem and now it's time to forge ahead. Routines become a snap. It's late morning and all of a sudden you find yourself thinking of the lunch break, her again. The thought sticks. The natural graceful beauty you saw yesterday. This is your new horizon. You must do something about it. Lunch. Maybe the coffee shop again. No, that would be obvious. There must be a better way. Who is she? Where does she work? Was she a regular at the coffee shop? Why shouldn't you go to the coffee shop? It might be a little obvious, but there's nothing wrong in that. This is important. This is what you have to do. You return for lunch.

Your hopes are high. Your heart flutters. What do I do if I see her? Will she come in today? Should I talk to her, maybe buy her lunch, or just be bold and ask to sit down with her?

You eat your lunch, sit back and savor the coffee. She's still not here. Maybe she doesn't eat at the same place every day. What if it was only the one time? Still no luck. She doesn't come in. It's almost time to get back to work. You're a little late. You take extra time walking back, glancing in windows, stores, another coffee shop on the way. Maybe she's in one of these places today. The people on the street. You absorb faces you've never noticed before. Is she in the crowd? Will you happen to see her? You're pushing the clock to the limit. You have to run the last block to make it to work on time.

The afternoon is downcast. It was just a 'lark' that you happened to see her yesterday. The routines turn to drudgery. The emotional peak of midmorning is gone. Home, eat, television is uninteresting. There's a gloom deep in your gut. Sleep is difficult. Late night television is barely interesting. You're finally able to sleep.

The next day at work, the same thing. Routines are bland. There's a hope as midmorning arrives and you think about lunch. You come to the same decision about where to eat except this time you take a little more time getting there. You're looking for her on the street and in a few more windows.

She still doesn't show. You're a couple of minutes late getting back from lunch. A sort of hopelessness falls onto your spirit. What to do? You must get on with your life. It's time to make a change. Forget about her. Try not to think about it.

After work, you decide to take a walk around downtown. Maybe a chance meeting. You dine, you dance. You whisk her back to her flat overlooking the river. A gentle kiss. She says she wishes the night would never end. You tell her you must get back to your duties. The dream is over. You remember your duties and your working man's flat in the suburbs. You scold yourself. You don't even know her. A quick bite to eat out and you go home. A little TV and it's off to bed, a little earlier tonight.

Work's a little more promising today. There seems to be opportunity and challenge where you haven't seen it before. Your spirit is up. You're ready for a change. You are in control of your life again. No silly romances with a girl you don't even know, someone you probably wouldn't approach even if you saw her again. Lunch finds you back in the same coffee shop, yet it's no big deal. If you see her, great. If not, there are other things to do, more important things. No show.

Back at work the routines seem to provide challenges. What can I do to make sure all the orders are filled out right? How can I concentrate on customer service? Can I make any improvements? A quick call to a friend and some plans for an evening of beer and pool. The weekend's coming and you'll have some free time. Maybe sit around and watch a few games. There's always that trip to the mountains, with a little preparation. The mall. There are a couple of things you wanted to get. Then of course there are the dishes. You haven't done them in a week. Maybe it's time to clean the apartment.

She's out of your mind for most of the weekend. You force yourself to concentrate. Don't let your mind wander to that girl. There are a couple of spells, where you sit around after some ambitious cleaning, and you find yourself day dreaming about her. The beauty, the grace. You crave the feminine companionship. You must check those thoughts. The cure is the game. You enter a whole new world of excitement as one team is pitted against the other in mortal combat to prove its imperviousness to the other.

The weekend's over. The routines are back and provide a bit of a challenge as you muster some ambition to make the most of the week. Lunch plans change this week. You try the deli at the local grocery store. Tuesday you bag it. Wednesday you try the coffee shop again. Your mind wanders briefly to the creature that gained your attention last week, but you're able to wrestle the thought from your mind. Nothing to get excited about. Then it happens. Thursday. You're sitting there sipping your coffee and she enters. The whole world stops. She's there. More beautiful than before. A goddess. A siren. History knows no bounds. The moment seems to fall into the pit of your stomach. She's there, you're here. What do you do?

She orders, sits down. There's something about the way she moves, the way she so daintily picks up her food. She is truly perfect. Should you say something to her? What should you do? You're not prepared. Your feet won't move. You just sit there. You know you should do something, but you can't.

You try to look away, but she's still there. You can sense every move she makes, everything she does. Oh, no! Am I making her uncomfortable? What should I do? I have to do something. You try to concentrate on something else, anything else, but to no avail. She's over there, taking a bite, glancing out the window. Wait a minute. She's pulled a book from her purse. What does this mean? Is she bored? Is this an opportunity to talk to her? Should I find out the name of the book and then maybe figure out if we have something in common? What is the book? 

Maybe you could read it and then you'd have something to talk about next time. Yes. That's what you have to do. You should find out the name of the book, get it, read it, and when you run into her next time you'll have something to talk about. She is so beautiful. The way she so delicately picks up her sandwich, the way she sips her drink. Control yourself. This is getting out of hand. You can't say anything. You're frozen. You know it. Don't be a fool. You don't even know this girl. Just sit here and enjoy her presence. She's very special, and who are you to think you can be anything to her. 

Maybe if you had a lot of money you could provide the things she deserved. Maybe if she and you were working together on a project or something, you might get to know each other. It's foolish to just sit here and fall in love with a girl you don't even know. Does she sense how I feel? It's probably embarrassing her. Don't put her through that anguish. Here you are providing for her and you don't even know what she likes. Maybe she just wants to be left alone. What does she want? I don't know, but she deserves it. I think I'll just sit here and enjoy what I can, her presence. After all, she's marvellous, a beautiful sight. Just being in the same room...

Lunch drags on. You can't do anything. She gets up, and you try to move. There's nothing you can do. She's half way to the door and you find yourself getting up too. You leave. She's left. She's part way down the block in the same direction you work. Should you follow? What can you do? She's leaving. She's about to disappear. You have to do something, now! Jump, react, yell. Do anything. This is ridiculous. At least you know in what direction she works. What will be will be. Maybe I'll see her again, maybe I won't. It doesn't matter. We're both adults. I don't want to do anything that will make her uncomfortable.

Your mind's fixed on her diminishing presence. Oh the despair. She rounds the corner. You try, once again, to ignore the feeling in the pit of your stomach, as she disappears from sight. She's gone. You had your chance and you didn't do anything about it. There's an emptiness. What did you do? Why did you let her go without saying something? Now there's nothing you can do except wait. Will there be a next time? It's time to get on with your life. Stuff like this happens and it's no big deal. Just go. You have to get back to work.

The afternoon floats by as you follow well-worn routines. The flowers on Jennifer's desk. Why do girls like flowers? They do add color, a certain vitality to the room. The softness enters your soul. Your mind drifts back to the girl in the coffee shop. If only you could walk together... If only you could talk... The day dream is wonderful in its own way. You indulge yourself and let it go awhile. You're walking on the beach, the wind's blowing. You've shared a few experiences. She laughs. That wonderful air of femininity, charm, and kindness that only a woman has to offer the world. You can't get her out of your mind. Not today. Will you ever see her again?

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