After the awkward dinner, she and I walked over the bridge that joined the two banks. The back of our hands occasionally brushed against each other, but neither made an attempt to reach out and take the other’s hand in their own. Intuitively, we slowed towards the middle and eventually stopped, holding the railing and staring into the black water. Even then, not a word escaped.
Seconds ticked by and I knew that I had to do it - NOW. Early tomorrow, a plane would take her away to where she came from, and there would be no way to contact her thereafter. She would leave no address, no number.
I looked at her in the dark as I felt the little box in my pocket. Even though her hair was tied in a tight bun, a few stray curls cast shadows on her translucent cheeks. The deep blue dress contrasted her skin, even in dimlight. She was beautiful. How badly I wanted to hold her. Just once.
In spite of the turmoil inside me, there was a deathly silence around us. Somewhere, far away, a saxophone was being played and its tune seemed vaguely familiar. A woman laughed loudly and the sound wafted all the way from the restaurant. The pregnant silence continued as if none of us wanted to break the spell that the night had cast on us. More minutes passed and I was becoming increasingly anxious. It was time to leave.
I twisted, opened and closed the box in the pocket, still contemplating, searching. Her face, her eyes, gave nothing away. The diamond ring on her finger glistened inspite of the dark and I remembered admiring it from my rearview mirror, on the night I first saw her.
- Her engagement ring; my damsel in distress.
“Damn it! She belongs to another man. I am her tour guide! I must be crazy to think she is in love with me. Ah! She’s just very sad to leave this magical place.”
More minutes passed and neither of us moved our gaze from the reflection of the moon on the dancing waves of the river. I tried not to think of the wonderful time I had showing her around the place. 7 days was all it took. Could I lose her forever?
Then, fighting back tears, I took her hands in mine and gently kissed them.
”It was great meeting you. Have a safe journey”.
The next day, as I passed her hotel, her butler came running towards me.
“This is your clients’ diary. She left it in her room.”
She had meticulously chronicled her stay uptil the last night. As I leafed through page after page, I came face to face with what I had been running away from. Things I had denied myself, things I had denied her. When I reached the final line, my tears blotted the place where she had signed her name...
– No more a dreamer, Sylvie.