I ordered my cappuccino and looked around for a free seat. Jilted Joe had only been open for five weeks but the combination of great tasting coffee, using organic beans grown on the mountains of Nicaragua, together with its location near the entrance to the town’s largest park, were already proving to be a major success. So much so that there weren’t any free tables. I spotted a corner table for four with only person, a young woman, sitting at it and quickly walked towards it. She sensed my presence and lifted her braided blonde hair, from the paperback she was reading, revealing a freckled face with blues eyes and pearl white teeth. She wore a short sleeved top with narrow blue and white horizontal stripes. Her slim arms led to the charm bracelets tied around her wrists and slender hands where arts and craft rings adorned most of her fingers .I placed my hand on the back of one of the two walnut stained wooden chairs and asked ‘May I ?’

‘Sure, why not sweetie’ she replied, with a soft voice and an accent which wasn’t local.

Although I’m sure that I had heard her correctly, I could still sense a degree of reluctance as she slowly moved her bright blue, rucksack from the chair diagonally across from her and placed it on the one opposite her. Obviously her Aztec Inca rucksack was more worthy of a seat than an actual paying customer, but did she really think that the both of them required four seats?

I took the, now, vacant seat and stole another glimpse of her. I reckoned that she must have been around 5’4 in height, slim and attractive but I could now see that she was older than I had first thought. Her weathered face, the wrinkled neck, the crow’s feet around her eyes, all indicated the passage of time. I guessed she was perhaps in her late forties, or even in her early fifties. She looked as if she enjoyed the great outdoors, well the sun at least.

I looked across the table at her, as if to start a conversation but her head turned down again, focusing on the book and avoiding any eye contact. I followed her gaze down to the bright pink cover of the book, which was obviously more interesting than me. The garish cover had led me to presume that she was reading a romantic novel, probably from the Mills and Boon stable. However I now read the title: ‘How to Kill your Husband’. ‘Very pleasant’ I thought.

My eyes began to scan her left hand, observing a pale circle of skin around her fourth finger. Had a wedding ring been worn there until recently and if so, why had it been removed?

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2 thoughts on “Chance encounter

  1. You leave me wondering, wanting to know but impatient to know more about this woman. Her response, “sure why not sweetie,” to your asking, “May I?” What is the connotation of this word? Does it not imply friendliness and yet her behavior was contradictive of being friendly?

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