December 2017

On The Coldest Day

When I first saw you you were eating an ice-cream on the coldest day of the year. Strands of your untamed hair kept getting stuck to it but you didn’t care, you kept eating while those around you sipped coffee from polystyrene cups.

You asked me when the next train was due and I said five and you said thanks. I wanted to ask you your name but didn’t know how, you saw me staring and asked me for mine. Andrew. You said your name was Gretchen but you didn’t like it because it didn’t sound like the name an actress would have. I asked you if that’s what you wanted to do, be an actress. You said no.

You told me you liked my jacket and asked me whether I liked fur. I said no because killing animals for clothing is wrong. I think you liked that because your nose wrinkled when you smiled. I felt nervous, kept thinking I was going to make a mistake with you. You kept smiling and nodding and laughing at my jokes though, and when it went silent you licked your ice-cream and sighed.

You walked to the bin and threw away the soggy end of the cone so confidently, as though the train platform was your runway, and we were merely photographers hanging on your every move and you knew you were the one in control. Walking back you stumbled on your heels so you took them off and got your slippers out of your bag. I think I fell in love with you then.

You stood next to me, almost too close, fuzzy blue slippers on your feet. I wanted to kiss you right then and there in front of everyone but couldn’t. You asked me what I did and as I told you you listened so carefully, looking right at me I could only look at your feet, I wanted to find your eyes but felt too scared and when I did I saw you tuck your hair behind your ears my heart stopped.

I said something that made you laugh and you touched my hand for a moment that blurred into the next and I missed what you said and just stared at you dumbly. You told me you loved the movies and asked me my favourite so I said Schindler’s List because that’s what I thought you’d want to hear but my real favourite is The Return of the Jedi and that’s all I kept thinking as you started asking me questions about Schindler’s List and I got hot and flustered because the last time I had seen it was in history class when I was 15. So I blurted out Star Wars. And you laughed, and told me that your uncle saw the first one 21 times when it came out in 1974. You said you loved Harrison Ford when you were younger and asked me if, like most guys you knew, I had a Princess Leia fantasy and I blushed.

I started noticing little details about you, like the fact that your eyes had green in them, and that you always held your head to the left. Your nails were chewed and I liked that, I liked the dozen rings you had on your fingers and the freckles on your nose.

You coughed and looked at your watch and I did the same and it was nearly five. It’s nearly five, you said, and looked down the tracks as if you expected to see the train coming, far off in the distance. I asked you where you were going and you said to visit a friend and my heart jumped because I thought it might be your boyfriend but then you said that she had an apartment in the city and I felt relieved, and then anxious again because I thought it might be your girlfriend. But then you told me how her partner works overseas a lot so you were going to stay with her for a few days while he was in Japan and I began to relax again. You asked me if I had been there, Japan, I said no, but I had been to Amsterdam so you asked me about the cafes where you can smoke pot legally and the red light district but I didn’t really remember all that stuff because I went when I was 12 and you laughed at me again. But it wasn’t in a mean way, in fact when you laughed a little dimple formed on the right side of your mouth and I loved you more and more every time I saw it.

The train came and we got on together. We sat down, you sat by the window but said that you couldn’t look out of it for too long otherwise it makes you feel sick. We paid for our tickets and as you leant across me to give the man your money you accidentally brushed my knee and I got goose bumps. And then I felt stupid all of a sudden. Because you had a life and friends and probably a partner and you didn’t know me and I didn’t know you and there’s no such thing a love at first sight.

But I did feel something, I know I did, something special and I just knew you felt it too. You talked all the way to town about William Blake and Walt Whitman and authors like JD Salinger, and through it all I just couldn’t help but stare at your face and your eyes and your hands as you made gestures representing the thoughts and ideas of Richard Kelly and it all melted into one long magical moment and then you were gone.

You were up at the door waving me goodbye. And I didn’t have your number or your address or your last name. But I loved you.

And now I think of you every time I catch a train, hoping to see your face in the crowd. And I think of you when I’m reading poetry or watching Star Wars. But most of all I think of you when there’s nothing to remind me of you at all, except a lonely figure eating ice-cream on the coldest day of the year.

Sophie Procter

February 4, 2010 by admin · 247 Comments 

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