A Misplaced Smile

According to my mother, a date is defined as two people spending time together, with at least one having romantic aspirations in regard to the other. Today I am on my first date, even though the boy in question doesn't know. He thinks we're just friends. you see.

It's a bright, clear, sunny autumn day, when the leaves are still red and golden and the sky is so incredibly blue I can't help staring at it. The air is cool and crisp, and I can smell the coming of winter. My friend Stefan and I are walking through Sainte-Anne, eating chocolate ice cream cones and talking politics.

The ice cream is so cold it almost bites my tongue; the sweet chocolatey taste makes me smile. I look into all the shop windows as we pass: the severe black-and-white bedroom furniture at D'Aoust, the kayaks and ski equipment at Club Nordic and the little ceramic figurines at the Victorian Order of Nurses' thrift shop all add to the texture of the day. Now and then, I look up into the blue sky. And more often, I glance over at Stefan.

He has such an intensely concentrated look on his face, and his brown eyes are bright and alert. He hardly ever smiles; he is not smiling now, as he wonders aloud if the situation in the Middle East will ever improve. He gestures with one of his long, elegant hands as he talks, holding his ice cream cone with the other. He is about a head taller than I am. His eyes have a hint of green in them. All those little details just stay in my memory, even when I try on purpose to forget them.

The Gulf War is a serious subject and I know I shouldn't be smiling while I listen. But hearing his voice, looking at him and spending time with him on this beautiful autumn day, under a bright blue sky, makes me so happy I just can't stop.