AN: All mine, tra lah lah!
You can have it, as long as you let me know.
"I'm so tired of being disappointed," she whispered, and I don't think I was supposed to hear, but I did. I keep thinking about that, about how, even though I wasn't meant to catch that thought, it somehow made its way to me. Maybe it had been my chance, maybe that was the moment I was supposed to swoop in and make everything better. It wasn't supposed to happen the way it did, I've always felt that, known that, and now I understand why. I was given the opportunity to prevent it all, to step in and rescue her from all her disappointments, but I hadn't, and I had let her down again.
She was beautiful. So incredibly beautiful. The observation was so powerful and immediate that I can still remember the feeling of surprise I felt when it hit me. And it seems long ago, yet the memories are vivid and clear. I was standing a few hundred feet away from her, descending some steps in my usual blind and clumsy way, jostled by others climbing up, knocked by bags and laughing at some joke my friend had made. And I turned my head, probably to make sure I didn't miss my footing and fall on my face. And there she was.
Of course, she must have been there before I chose to look upon her; no doubt for eighteen years beforehand she had been living her life, despite the fact that I had had no idea of her existence. But in that moment, she was born in my eyes.
Following my vacant gaze, my best friend rolled her eyes, instantly knowing the nature of the electrical impulses shooting across my brain. She gave me a slight shove, reminding me of her earlier comment, that I only thought of one thing. She didn't know, however, that on this occasion, my mind had frozen. I wasn't thinking about anything. It seemed sacrilegious to do so when my chest felt so tight and my eyes were close to exploding with glitter.
Still, life continued on, regardless of whether you have fallen in love at first sight. It's pretty cruel like that. With another affectionate nudge from my friend, I somehow forced my feet to move onwards, past the object of my instant devotion, and towards someone far less attractive- my History lecturer.
You never forget the moment you fall in love with someone at first sight. No matter if you never see that person again, or how many times you love others. The mere realisation that it's possible, the frightening strength and unexpected occurrence of the surge of emotion is enough to give such a jolt to your body and your mind that you never forget. Not really.
I saw her again a few times over the next year. If I were the mathematical type I could give you the odds on two people out of eight thousand living in such close proximity seeing one another every now and again. I mean, I'm not so naïve and consumed by romantic fantasy as to believe that something like that could be the work of fate. Of course, we would see one another occasionally, it was purely coincidental. Right?
Through these incidental meetings, by the end of the year, we had progressed to exchange polite smiles and sometimes, hellos to each other. We had, as yet, not even learnt one another's names, but those encounters meant a lot to me. Just one smile could get me through an entire month until I would receive another.
This fact was as disconcerting to me as it was to my scornful friends, who laughed at my blushing and gushing, and always reminded me that I didn't even know her name. They didn't need to tell me that, the very logical voice in my brain was shouting loud enough as it was. I tried to rationalise it, to make it all make sense.
What I was probably feeling was lust, pure and simple. She was beautiful, with long brown hair and shy blue eyes. She was perfect, that was it. She embodied every aspect of my fantasy woman. That's all, that's all.
And then Fate intervened. Or maybe it was just the weather. One day, it just started to rain; not such a dramatic act by itself, but you never know what else has been lined up amongst all the other insignificant arrangements.
The rain was almost tropical in its intensity. Hard, heavy sheets of Autumn water beating down against the shiny pavement, puddles gleaming shiny and solid in the yellow gold of the electric lights inside. I didn't know quite what to do, having neither an umbrella nor a car to provide shelter. From watching others running across the slippery tarmac, I realised that as soon as I stepped outside, I would be sodden. Not just damp, not just slightly wet, but soaked to the bone, hair plastered to my face, skin saturated to such a degree that I would probably need to be wrung out type wet.
Slowly accepting the depressing fact that I would have to linger at the university, waiting within the unwelcoming walls that suddenly ceased to be friendly and familiar when evening rolled around, I plodded down the steps and saw her.
She too was a victim of the rain and stood huddled against the large panes of glass near the door, staring out at the dismal twilight. I suddenly thanked God for the early evening darkness and unpredictable weather of autumn.
"Nice weather," I commented dryly, coming to stand by her side. It was the best icebreaker I could think of. She started, as though she had thought she was completely alone in her predicament.
"I was just saying... Nice weather, huh?" Saying it again, when it had sounded lame enough the first time, was embarrassing. I was tempted to just walk away then, before I made an even bigger idiot of myself, but somehow I couldn't.
"Perfect weather for sunbathing," she returned with a shy smile. The way her eyes dropped after she spoke, as though she was waiting for ridicule, was completely endearing. If I wasn't already mesmerised by her, that one gesture would have won me over.
I still cannot explain what happened next. I can only claim that Fate, having done all the hard work, grew impatient with my timidity and began to control me. A scary thought, but the only one that can explain why, completely out of the blue, I said:
"You know, it looks like the rain isn't going to let up for a while. Do you want to go to the cafeteria? I'll buy you a drink, and if you're really lucky, a doughnut." The instant the words had left my mouth, I was overcome with mortification and I could feel a searing crimson colour creeping over my entire body.