ficlet: not the man you think he’s for

The door opens and a man walks in. (The beginning of a thousand stories.) Tall in a brown suit and tan shirt, his tawny eyes scan the room, glancing off strangers, trying to pick out a face. Dark shoes, no cufflinks, a tie close enough to straight to count. His fingers snag a drink off a passing tray and an intelligent smile slowly finds his face. A girl is animatedly talking at a small table crowded with people, a bundle of personality traits he’d always wanted to meet. He can tell from her coloured hair.

she’s staring up at the building, not certain how she came to be there, because she should have called, but it would have been awkward to say hello in front of people because she is shy of their so called intimate relationship and so she decided she would call as soon as she was alone, but then the bus was there and it would be another twenty minute wait if she didn’t get on as it pulled up to her feet, and then it was her stop out front of his building, and her heart feeling heavy and

At his apartment, she is quieter, tired. Taking her shoes off, she pulls without any of her previous grace. “How many times are we going to do this?” He takes off his jacket, sits down in front of his computer. “As many as it takes.”

A nightclub, dim lights and a red fish-tank behind the bar. The crowd is helplessly young. Older than they are, the man walks in wearing the same long suit, the same discovering smile. He carelessly pays for a drink with stolen quarters from a laundromat. A girl is dancing to the thunder, clever porcelain hands trying to grasp the sound around her, everything he wants to change about himself. He can tell from her painted nails.

she’s arrived, so it’s pointless to think of calling, and it’s always like this, indecision making her decisions, but she could go across the street to the public telephone, but then she would have to walk past the building to the corner and then she would have to backtrack and that would feel so stupidly inexperienced because of course it’s okay that she’s arrived and why is she calling from the corner, come up, come up

Damp from a shower, she drops to the couch, a towel wrapped around her head. “How did this even start?” He offers her another towel, “You’re dripping on the carpet.” She looks to her pale feet, looks back up and slowly accepts the second towel. “I remember when I loved you.”

Surrounded by pigeons, a girl is sitting on a bench by the water. From a paper bag, she is scattering birdseed. Her friends are laughing at her attempts to have them eat from her hand. Every time they laugh, the birds startle and flit farther away. She does not care, the sun is warm. The girl laughs too. Under a tree, the man in the suit waits with a box camera, the carapace of an enthusiastic black insect. He raises the instrument like a hammer. It chitters when the shutter snaps. With her, he would not have to sleep to dream. He can tell from the shape of her name.