Chance Encounter (an Ode & Lament to Beauty) | {story#4}


This is an original fiction piece written for StoryADay September. Read more & follow here.
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As I was walking down the crowded downtown street, I noticed a woman walking the opposite way, walking toward me. She was stunning. Long black-brown hair framed a clear face with a touch of rouge; the face contained two deep and dark eyes, ornamented with the perfect accents of eyeliner and shadow. Tall and slender, she walked with a poise and confidence that could do nothing but draw one’s eye. The cool of the coming Fall brought forth her seasonally-appropriate dark colors, layered clothes, and charming violet shawl.

My gaze was immediately arrested and mercilessly held without bond, tortured for the information I had no words to say. I had only thoughts. Only sensations. Only slight, but deep, sensual perceptions rising to an unfulfilling place of fleeting desire and longing. I felt the invitation to come, tempered only by the canyon of anonymity between us.

I felt lust begin to rise as I held my gaze, wanting nothing more than for her eye to flick to the left and catch mine. To hold my gaze until I might observe a half–no–quarter smile ever so slightly be drawn upon her face as she then broke the visual contact. To see her head then held a bit higher in the confidence of knowing my thoughts. And then proceed along with her day. To give me that ever desired, yet never satisfying gift from this One who has seen it fit to award it from her perch high on the pedestal upon which I have placed her.

My eyes fixed on her elusive eyes, trying to draw them–my soul shouting, the sounds echoing off the city walls around us, but contained in the cacophony of my deceptive heart. She approached ever increasingly closer, nearer to me.  I held her in my sight, longing for those two earthen orbs to yield to my optical advances. My heart was rising to a pitch, drowning out every other city sound that perhaps should have had my attention.  We were almost perpendicular.  My head turned to the left a bit more obviously than I would have normally preferred, to try and give her one last chance to give me her look. I stared. I gazed. I held. I longed. I screamed.

She passed. She never broke her gaze from her intent. She never looked my way. My head turned back to my own path, moment missed, heart still flurry.

But as I did, my eyes stopped on the woman walking behind the previous object of my fancy. She had been blocked by the angles present in the previous exchange, but now I was able to see her. She was short and fairly overweight with pale and blemished skin held in a bed of long, dull, dry, and unkempt dirty blonde hair (more dirty than blonde), with a bright pink streak through one side.  She wore old blue jeans, with a dark blue hooded sweater. She wore wire rim glasses that sat in front of eyes glued to a spot on the ground perpetually 5 feet in front of her. She was hunched beneath the weight of the periwinkle backpack burdening her frame.

My eye stopped at her, and my internal state took a tangible and shameful fall from the high, the enchantment, of which I had been under just a second before. She lifted her head (an action which seemed more difficult than it ought to have been) and she looked up into my eyes. I gave a sincere and observable half–no–quarter smile ever so slightly drawn upon my face.  I then broke visual contact, but did not hold my head any higher, and did not simply go on with my day.

I was reminded of a line in James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man where the main character, Stephen Daedalus, is talking to a girl with which he is infatuated.  He is trying to impress her with the sophistry of his own philosophizing.  When he is done portraying himself as profound, she looks at him and says, “I am afraid you are a heretic.”  He replies, “Are you much afraid?”

I am much afraid.

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Creative Commons License
This work by Paul Burkhart is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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