11.13.2013

In the reflection



I pulled my camera strap over my head and adjusted my coat collar.  It was a perfect autumn day, cool and crisp.  I had woken up that morning feeling the need to go for a walk.  There was a new book shop in town that had just opened and I had been wanting to stop by and see their selection.  School had kept me busy but today was Saturday and I was free from my college homework for a few hours.  So, armed with my camera, my large purse that people always made fun of, and a heart needing a de-stressful day, I closed the front door behind me and started down the sidewalk.  
I passed a biker or two on my way downtown but for the most part, the sidewalks were vacant.  The trees along the streets were changing their leafy colors and making a beautiful cascade as they fell to the ground.  I stopped once or twice to take a quick snapshot of the red and orange and yellow natural autumn decor.  
As I neared downtown, the sight of the old, rustic brick buildings was lovely.  I stopped short as something flashed next to me.  I retracted two steps and saw, to my left, that I had passed a large front window of an abandoned building and my reflection was what had halted me.  I stared at myself for a minute, then raised my camera to take a picture.  As I peered through it, I gasped and quickly pulled the camera from my face.
‘Oh sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.’  He had a British accent.
I stepped away from him.  ‘Who are you?’
He gave a small grin and said, ‘I saw you were going to take a picture and thought I could,’ he shrugged.  ‘Well, it’s not like I would be adding anything good to it.  I just thought you might want an extra person so you won’t be standing alone.’
I felt my eyebrows frown for a minute, then slowly relax.  ‘Sure,’ I said, offering a small smile.  ‘And you’re forgiven - for scaring me.’ I added.
‘Ah, there’s a difference between scaring and startling.  I prefer to assume that I did the latter.  Which,’ he offered a slight bow.  ‘I do apologize for.’
I bit back a laugh.  Here was a British boy, dressed like a hipster, complete with combat boots, a cardigan and beanie wanting to take a picture with a random girl.  My morning was certainly starting off interesting.
‘You can apologize a couple more times because your voice is kind of amazing.’
Wow.  Way to go.
He laughed.  ‘Why thank you.  Your accent is quite lovely too.’
‘My accent?’ I exclaimed.
He nodded.  ‘Your American accent.’
‘Oh,’ I said.  ‘Right.’  I always thought how funny it was that people hear each other’s accents when they’re from different countries.
‘So where do you want me to stand?’ he asked.
I faced the window and motioned to my left.  ‘Just right here.’
‘Gladly,’ he said, taking a step forward.  I didn’t realize how tall he was until he was standing next to me.  My head came up to about his jawline.
I raised my camera once more and snapped the picture.
‘Thank you,’ I said with a smile.
‘No trouble at all.  Thank you!’
A slight pause.
‘Have a nice day!’ I said with a small wave and started walking again.
‘You too,’ I heard him call behind me.
My mind played over the whole scene as I walked the rest of the way and up the steps into the book shop.  I was greeted with the ring of a bell above the door, the soft glow of candles and the smell of pumpkin spice.  
What a charming, cozy little place! I thought to myself.
A worker welcomed me and upon being asked if I was looking for a particular book, I said the first one that came to my head.  She pointed towards an aisle and I told her not to bother showing me right where it was.  I would be happy browsing until I found it.
I made my way down the row, passing soft and hard covered books.  The smell of them all was delightful and I felt like I was in reader’s heaven.  I found the shelf I was looking for and smiled to see that ‘North and South’ by Elizabeth Gaskell was there.  I carefully pulled it down and opened to a random page.
‘Wow.  This is strange.’
I looked up from my book only to be met with the face I had seen just several minutes before.
‘Oh!  Hello!’
The British boy held up both of his hands, as if in surrender.  ‘Please do not think I’m following you.  I know this may seem rather creepy, but in all honesty - ’
I interrupted him with a laugh.  ‘No worries!  I’m sure many people are making their way to this new bookstore today.’
‘I’m glad you’re taking this so lightly.  I was actually hoping I would bump into you again, though.  I didn’t properly introduce myself.’  He extended his hand and I shook it.
He shook hands with Margaret. He knew it was the first time their hands had met, though she was perfectly unconscious of the fact.’
I stared at him.  ‘What?’ I whispered.
He released my hand and motioned to the book I still held.  ‘North and South.  That’s a line from it.’
My eyebrows raised quickly.  ‘Oh!  You’ve read this before?’
‘Several times.  I’m a bit of a...what do you Americans call it?  A book nerd?’
‘Then that makes two of us.’
He looked at me for a moment and his brown eyes seemed to see right to my soul.  ‘I must seem like such a random person to you,’ he began.  ‘Asking to be in a picture with you, coming to the same bookstore, and now quoting from a book.’  He chuckled.  ‘I’m sorry.  I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day.’  He gave that small bow again and turned to leave.  
‘What other books would you recommend for me?’ I asked suddenly.
He stopped and looked back at me with a smile.  ‘I can show you a few, if you’d like.’
‘Please,’ I said, following his lead.
The next hour or so seemed to pass in a blur.  We talked about our favorite authors, places we’d like to visit, how school was going for both of us and how autumn was our favorite season.  He told me that he was an exchange student who recently moved to town and today was his first day to explore.  What were the chances that I could spend my leisure Saturday with a British boy?  
‘Do you need to be heading home?’ he asked, as I checked my phone for the time.
I didn’t want to, but I knew I had a stack of homework waiting for me on my desk.  I gave a sad nod.  ‘Yeah, I should get going soon.’
‘Well before you leave, pick out a book that you’d like.’
‘You-you mean, to buy?’
‘No, silly, for me to buy for you!’
‘Are you serious?’
‘Why would I tease about something like this?’  He rolled his eyes.
I smiled.  ‘Gosh, I don’t know which one I want...’
‘How about ‘North And South’?  Or do you own a copy of it already?’
‘I don’t, actually.  I need one.’
‘Then it’s settled.  I’ll purchase it for you.’
I left the book shop with a paper bag containing the Elizabeth Gaskell novel in one hand and a white chocolate mocha in the other.  
‘Thank you so much,’ I smiled at him.
‘No, thank you.  I had a wonderful day.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I had such a good one.  And thank you for not thinking I’m a creep.’
I grinned.  ‘Not at all.  Well...goodbye.’  I starting walking towards home, making sure I didn’t look over my shoulder.  Part of me almost wanted to give him my number, but knew that'd be way too forward of me.  He didn’t ask me so, I wouldn’t.
I tossed my purse and camera onto my bed when I got home and fell into my bright red chair to start on homework.  But instead, I sipped my mocha, staring out the window in front of me.  It was starting to rain.  I sighed and turned to my desk, but I saw something move out of the corner of my eye.  I turned to look out the side window next to my bed and gasped.  There he was.  Sitting at his desk.  A chin resting in his hand while he stared out his front window.  The British boy was my neighbor.
A million questions raced through my head but I didn’t have time to do anything before he glanced over and a shocked look came over his face.  Then, we both had the same idea.
I jumped onto my bed and quickly lifted the window open, and he did the same.
‘What are you doing there?’
‘I live here!’
Of course.  He’s an exchange student.  And he just moved to this new house.  Right next door to mine.
I laughed.  ‘This is so crazy.’
‘I agree.  But a good crazy.’
‘That’s the only kind of crazy I like.’
A pause.
‘Want to come over and do homework with me?’ he winked.
‘I thought you’d never ask,’ I smiled.

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8 comments:

  1. oh my goodness raquel! this is cute and adorable. i love how you came up w this cute little story out of this one photo. :) i love your little romances. ;) x (ps funny how i had already pinned this photo).

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  2. agh, that is too awesome! North and South, British accent, I mean seriously! So well written- I was smiling the whole time reading it, thanks!!!

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  3. what a fun story!! Thanks for dropping by my blog!
    Lilly
    Wildflowersinbloom.com

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  4. And this is the post that made me want to read "North and South" ;)...and it's by far my favorite of your short stories :)

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  5. Amazing . . . wouldn't we all love it if our guy bought us a book like this? ;)

    walking in the air.

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  6. Beautiful! The story just kept getting better and better! And a quote from 'North and South'! Perfection

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