I watch her from behind the gnarled branches of an old Oak across the road. I said I’d meet her for dinner at six-thirty. It’s now six-thirty-five.
Dream Girl’s waiting on the steps leading up to Alan & Alison’s All-Night Café. Some of the customers have to squeeze past her. She pretends not to notice their utterances of annoyance and turns her head away. Looking through the wrought iron railings, she takes another sip of red Fanta, making slurping noises through the straw and further infuriating the customers, especially the women. The men pretend to agree that Dream Girl is oh-so-very-rude, indeed; a loutish young woman who doesn’t belong in these parts of the city where art and history meet in the mortar between the stones in the walls, but it’s only a façade because by agreeing it gives them another opportunity to have a look at Dream Girl.
The street lights flicker on and vomit moths.
Dream Girl’s hair looks metallic in the glow of the light, an effect, I guess, created by the yellow streaks that give her hair that comic book-blue sheen. Her eye shadow matches her tank top and ripped jeans: Amazon parrot yellows and blues.
She checks the time on the watch I bought her at a flea market last Saturday. I didn’t want to buy it for her because it was cheap. I thought she deserved better, or so I made myself believe. The truth is I was embarrassed to buy the red plastic Lin-Ping watch because I was worried what the other people would think of me. Idiot. I said I’d buy you a Swiss watch, but she said I don’t want a Swiss watch; I like this one.
Dream Girl ties her shoe laces. She wears a pair of off-white trainers of which one of the soles has come loose. She takes out half-a-tube of superglue from her see-through handbag (green) and fixes the shoe. She puts the glue back and takes out a book and her reading glasses. She was reading Albert Camus’s The Stranger the last time we spoke; judging by the cover of this one, I’d say it’s For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway.
The eyeglass case has seen better days. The lid is broken, but she’s re-attached it with two pieces of Velcro (super-glued to the plastic, no doubt).
She sniffs and puts on her glasses. She looks so goofy now, Dream Girl. The lenses are so thick, they look like the bottoms of one-litre Coke bottles. She opens her book and the autumn wind comes up. A dust devil picks up dead leaves on the pavement and spits it out over Dream girl. She brushes away the leaves on the pages, but there’s one stuck in her hair that she doesn’t notice.
I let her read.
It’s eight-thirty, and she is on the last page of For Whom the Bell Tolls.
Maybe I should wait until she finishes the story before I run over and hug the life out of her.