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An Intiguing Meeting
A shadow fell across the book I was reading and looking up I was momentarily blinded by the sun, which blasted in through the windows. A hesitant voice reached me,
“Alright if I sit here?” Looking up I noticed for the first time how crowded the café had gotten. Having placed my briefcase on the armchair beside mine and taken up most of the coffee table in front of me with my papers, I moved the briefcase and shifted some papers aside so she could have room for her coffee, and motioned her to sit down.
She was not a young woman, maybe in her middle forties to fifties, it was difficult to say. Her eyes held a limitless age but were clouded in a self-protective way that was hard to read. Consequently, I did not initiate any conversation sensing, more than knowing, that she didn’t want to talk. I turned back to my papers but was very aware of her brooding presence beside me. We sat there for a time, she, staring off into space and I with my head in my books. I had almost managed to forget she was sitting there when she began to rustle about in her large black bag. I looked over.
“I’m sorry,” she said, her face a mixture of anxiety and shyness.
“No worries, do you need some more room at the table” I asked as she pulled a portfolio from her bag.
“Oh no, I’m fine, the arms here are good,” and popping off her shoes, pulled her legs up underneath her and propped her portfolio on the arm of the chair. Gathering her thoughts for only a moment she began to write. The concentration of writing erasing all anxiety from her face, she was soon lost in her own words.
Not wanting to make her uncomfortable, I forced myself back to my own reading, but was definitely distracted by this woman’s energy. I finally sat back in my chair. I came to this café often, usually early in the morning. I seemed to be able to concentrate better in the buzz and action of the café than in my office. Most people came and went as they grabbed a coffee on their way to work. Some were regulars as the staff knew what they wanted before they even asked and there was a continuous flow of friendly banter. Sometimes others have occupied the armchair beside me but rarely have I noticed them come and go. However, this woman had a story. I could see the heaviness of life, which hung over her. I wanted to ask her about herself but she was so absorbed in her writing.
I picked up my Bible from the floor beside me and sought to bring my mind back to my study at hand. After reading intently for a time, I felt that I was the one now being watched. With the shy look back on her face I could see she had noticed my Bible. I lifted the Bible a little and asked,
“Do you read?” Her eyes lit up,
“I do, it’s my favorite book.”
“Mine too,” deciding on the spot to take a chance, “Do you come here often to write?”
“No…not here, but I thought I would try this morning. Did I disturb you?”
“No, absolutely not. I’m use to the bustle of the café, I kinda like it.” She smiled in a friendly way but did not offer any more information. Should I ask any more? I did not want to pry but there was something about her. I wanted to see beneath the shields surrounding her. Looking at my watch I also knew I had run out of time. I had an appointment in exactly fifteen minutes, if I hurried. Packing up my papers, I looked over.
“Well, if you decide to come back tomorrow I’ll save your chair.” She smiled, and bid me a good day. I wondered if she would be back the next day.