#1: In Berlin, in love, walking with my arms full of flowers to meet my beloved. He was facing me across the road as we waited for the lights to change, watching... smiled as he approached me, one of those instant-connection smiles that reaches straight into your heart and pulls forth an answering smile. It was obvious we'd just made each others' day; I still wish I'd stopped to kiss him.

#2: He helped me find my way through the Paris Metro on a quiet Sunday afternoon in winter, then sat beside me and asked, in a voice heavy with suggestion and Gauloises: "You like adventure?" I didn't laugh.

#3: She was often on my train in the morning, blonde and luminous with youth; her favourite jacket was a revolting tartan thing but somehow it didn't make her any less compelling. We got to the point of exchanging barely-perceptible nods and sly glances before the school term ended and she disappeared forever.

We've all experienced this. A chance encounter with a random stranger, be it on a train, a bus, in a mall, or even just walking down the street. The kind of encounter where you don't say a word. Your eyes lock with the stranger. There's just something about this person. You keep looking until you realize you're staring. You both look away from each other, only to glance back a moment later. Should you say something? Should you not? Is this meeting a matter of mere chance or was it meant to be. You get to your bus stop and start to depart. At the doorway you look back one last time to catch the other's eyes following you. What if you'd said something...? What if...

I was gardening in my front yard when I heard the approach of heeled shoes on pavement and the slight creaking that I at first thought was my abused muscles but soon realized was a wheel of some sort. I looked up to find the cause of my interuption.

She was walking down my tree-shaded street pushing a baby carriage and singing a song to the occupant. She was just one of those random strangers that you can never forget. She seemed too put together to be a teen mother but I didn't think she was much older than eighteen. Her voice was too youthful and unjaded. I dusted off my hands as I watched her continue on her way oblivoius to the world.

When she passed under a ray of sunlight, I got a suprise. Her hair was not black but a very dark blue, obviously dyed but there were no tell-tale roots to betray her natural color. The sunlight also glinted at her exposed navel. I suspected a navel ring. That exposed stomach was flat and looked fit. Curiouser and curiouser.

Just as I was about to go back to the weeds, I heard a pathetic little mew and saw a little furry face peering out of the carriage. A cat? The woman (girl?) said something that I couldn't catch in a singsong voice and reached into the carraige. She withdrew the offending hand with a yelp and put one of the fingers in her mouth. The kitten escaped her wrapings and jumped to the ground. It was nothing more than a tiger striped streak as he sough refuge under my front porch.

I looked from the crying girl who now seemed so young to my garden and decided the weeds would wait. I bandaged her hand and helped her coax the hissing kitten out from under the porch. I marveled at her. Her carefully applied makeup was a bit tear streaked but clearly had once been expertly applied. I wouldn't have been able to stand up in the heels she was wearing let alone walk all over the neighborhood. She did indeed have blue hair and a pierced navel. But for all that, she couldn't have been much older than fourteen years and I was betting that she was closer to twelve.

I wondered who her parents were and if I would ever see her again. I knew, in a few years that she would break hearts and suspected that even now, she was breaking them. I used to be like her, striving to grow up and be considered an adult so I could escape my childhood. I never want to go back to that but for that one fleeting instant, I wanted to be that nameless girl with a kitten on a warm summer day.

I could have sat for hours,

talking, listening..

But I only had a few minutes

As you explained your philosophy,

'Sorry to bore you' you said

'You didn't' I said

I probably bored you, I thought.

Damn

I wish I'd had the time to get to know you.

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