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The Girl with the Mona Lisa Smile – a short story
To start off my third year here at Hubpages, I’ve decided to try something new..for me at least. A short story. Here’s an ‘odd girl meets boy’ tale. As a twist, I’ve interjected a few permutations from bits of article spinning and comment spam..into the conversations. You’ve been forewarned…
The story begins...
Simon was observing Nicole at the checkout, as he had done several times over the last few weeks. He was captivated by her casual deportment, and enigmatic Mona Lisa smile. He noticed that she was somewhat frugal in her grocery purchases, judging by the small basket, usually filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, and other organic or minimally processed foods. Never a cart full of junk food, or what Simon felt were unnecessary items. A woman of sensibility, my kind of girl…he mused to himself. Actually, if truth be told, Nicole had also been eyeing Simon these many weeks as well.
Nicole, a freelance writer, submitted articles to magazines and online publications. Her forté was mainly health issues, and sensible eating. Still, she never took things too seriously, her articles were always peppered with various little humorous asides.
Simon used to drive a taxi, but after some slightly scary encounters with some very weird people, he decided to leave that scene…although it was an interesting way of meeting all kinds of people. Based on a conversation with one of his more ‘normal’ passengers, he decided to revisit an earlier idea he’d put in the back of his mind. He was now a sign painter, and worked on commission. Business seemed to be going well at the moment, but hey..you really can’t count on anything these days.
A chance meeting
On this particular Thursday, Nicole was in the international foods aisle, looking for some Tahini paste. Although Simon had no particular interest in such food items, he was determined to summon up the courage to meet Nicole for real this time. He hesitated again and again, trying to come up with the perfect pickup line. Finally as he approached her, his pulse began accelerating, beads of perspiration making their presence felt on his forehead, his hands coming over all clammy.
Nicole could sense his nearby presence, but thought not to acknowledge him just yet. He shifted his weight slightly to his left foot, then leaning towards her right shoulder, uttered: “Nice day for Tahini…”. Not the sort of thing likely to set a young woman’s heart a-flutter…still, it was something other than silence…an ice-breaker of sorts.
Nicole turned to face Simon’s moistened brow, and spoke to his forehead: “Have you ever noticed the morning dew that forms on the outside of a bugle?” Simon’s glistening brow began to furrow, wondering what to make of the decidedly curious question, and what might be an appropriately snappy reply. “What…you mean those tasty corn snacks?”, he proffered…a slight quiver in his voice.
“No, silly…the kind that sounds like dictionary spoons”, Nicole replied. A pregnant pause that actually seemed much longer ensued, as their eyes dared to meet, then not, then back again. Finally, the ice was broken, and they both fell into hysterical laughter, to the curiosity and consternation of nearby shoppers.
Getting to know each other
After having introduced themselves, Nicole and Simon went into various diatribes about relationships, and about how people just don’t eat healthy stuff anymore. Relieved that they had found some common ground, Simon was curious to know if Nicole was ‘spoken for’, as he put it. Though she was hesitant to get into anything personal at this point, she offered “I speak for myself, and I use a personal floatation device.”
Simon, though a bit dumfounded at the responses he was getting, was captivated by Nicole. Having tentatively latched onto her strange verbiage, he rightly assumed she was single, and perhaps preferred the position she was in, thank you very much. Nevertheless, Simon took it upon himself to ask Nicole if she was at all interested in going out with him. She let her gaze wander aimlessly past the Jamaican salsa and Indian rice flakes, and pondered the question for a moment. Then came this enigmatic reply: “Well…noticing a new expert way you treated it, forced me to jump over fulfillment…so yeah, sure” Although slightly perplexed, Simon assumed that she had agreed to his request.
“So…where do ya wanna go?, Simon inquired. “I dunno…where do you wanna go, my fair…ginger snap?”, Nicole winked, as she peered slyly into the soothing blue eyes of her newfound ‘ginger snap’. “Umm…how about Italian, there’s a nice place I’ve been to a few times..you’ll like it.”, Simon cajoled. After some protracted consideration, Nicole replied: “I procrastinate a lot and by no means seem to obtain a little something done…however, Italian would re-start my sandbox just fine…sure.” Simon, though still bemused, was starting to wonder if his mate might embarrass him in public, with this convoluted wordsmithy. Still, it couldn’t be any worse than that date with Candice, but let’s not go there…
A nice, intimate evening…
Being a beautiful, warm summer evening, Nicole wore a fetching, summery floral print dress. It had just the right amount of ‘reveal’ factor..just a teaser, nothing lewd or overdone. Her lovely brown hair, drawn back neatly in a bun, gave her a touch of class, and understated confidence. Simon was impressed, and relieved that Nicole wasn’t dressed in some quirky manner that mirrored the way she frequently spoke.
Simon was dressed stylishly casual, in a blue and white striped dress shirt, and beige pants, and his favourite cologne ‘Acqua di Gio..by Giorgio Armani’, his best ‘babe magnet’, as he called it.
Simon suggested a table on the outdoor patio. Nicole said “Sure.” After a short time, Simon once again noticed the Mona Lisa smile from Nicole’s radiant face, darkened slightly from the summer sun. Simon reached over the table, took Nicole’s left hand tenderly in his right, and told her how lovely she looked, and that he especially liked the summery dress she was wearing.
Nicole smiled once again, and thanked him…moving her gaze about his face, taking note of the soft blue eyes, the slightly curly, sandy brown hair..momentarily moving her gaze to a light tuft of chest hair peeking out from his casually unbuttoned shirt..then back to his eyes. “So Nicole, what do you write about?” inquired Simon, as he surreptitiously checked to make sure his cellphone was turned off. “Oh…mostly about health stuff..you know, eating right, exercising…that sort of thing”, Nicole confidently, but casually intoned.
“I’ll bet you had some weirdos in your taxi...” Nicole cut her words off abruptly, as the waiter arrived at their table. “Would you care for a drink before dinner?”, inquired a slightly tall gentleman with a Mediterranean complexion. Simon, ever the gentleman, first asked Nicole what she would like. She wanted a Cosmopolitan. Simon ordered a Tom Collins.
After some convivial conversation, and casual imbibing, the waiter returned to take their orders. Simon suggested to Nicole: “I think you’d really like the veal parmesan, with the spinach linguini..I’ll bet it’s fairly healthy…” Nicole replied: “I am sorry, this variant does not approach me. I’ll have the vegetarian slipper with the gunpowder salad.”
An embarrassing silence filled the immediate area. Nicole smiled her sly, enigmatic smile, as the waiter’s eyes scanned the surroundings from left to right and back again, wondering what he might scratch upon his small order pad. Simon cast his eyes upward, as his worst fears had been realized. “Alright then, I’ll have the vegetarian lasagna, and the Mediterranean salad.” Nicole said, and smiled calmly, satisfied with the awkward moment of confusion she had created.
The remainder of the meal transpired without further incident, though Simon was initially miffed at his dates’ lack of..decorum, for want of a better word. Though they both managed to laugh it off by the end of the meal. The bottle of wine between them helped to smooth things out as well.
A little later that same evening...
As they left the restaurant, and headed towards the parking lot, Nicole and Simon made eye contact, and wrapped themselves around each other in a tender embrace. Nicole said “Oh…thank you so much Simon, you’re such a sweet guy.” To which Simon replied: “Well…you oughtta know.” Quickly adding: “..I mean the part about being sweet, that is…not the part about being a guy.” They both had a modest, but somewhat awkward laugh.
As they approached Simon’s black Sunfire GT in the parking lot, Nicole noted: “Nice wheels, Simon…I should have my hamsters verify up here typically.” Simon laughed aloud, shook his head, then casually replied: “Yeah..well it makes for nice flashlight boxcar, I guess.”
Nicole was beside herself, in hysterics. Simon had finally equalled or perhaps topped Nicole at the spam nonsense game she had been playing, and they both laughed themselves silly. Simon was fairly confident at the possibility of a second date..at the very least.
This article ©2012 by timorous+