She was wandering around the new bookstore
downtown. It had just been built, and the shop smelled of fresh paint, coffee
and newly printed hardbacks. She walked up and down the isles of the design section, thumbing through a book about Christian Dior
. Her red
skirt that swept out when she walked and had a stiff thick belt. As a child, she would twirl
. She still twirls now when no one is looking. Her shirt was light and airy, white with pearl buttons up the front and cherries printed all over it. White, oversized sunglasses held her long brown hair away from her face. She looked like a movie star. If the day was a little cooler, she would have on white gloves
He watched her from the science and medicine section, sliding books over in the shelves to see her. Whenever she moved down the isle to get a new book, he had to readjust his position. This one was on the style sense of Jacqueline Kennedy. He watched her bright red fingernails turn the pages of her book.
He had seen her before. She was first and foremost a socialite, attending the latest gala event and always in the newspaper for this or that. She was a fashion designer on the side. Her dresses sold for hundreds. She was the new hot thing and everyone wanted a piece of her. She never wore her own designs. The rumor was that she once said she wouldn’t be caught dead in her own designs, but she made her own clothes in her spare time, copying the fashion sense of the designers in the 50’s and early 60’s. He knew she did a lot of work in the community, but that was privileged information. He had seen her several times in the children’s hospital. She would entertain the children who lived there and they loved her. He knew she loved them, he saw it in the way she looked at them. She would be a clown for those children. She would tickle them, make silly jokes and play games with them. But she knew when to be quiet. She knew when the shy ones needed someone to sit down next to them and focus solely on them. She was gentle with all of them.
When she left the hospital, she became icy again. She would walk around town, pristine and unattainable. Sunglasses would cover her eyes as she strutted down the street, seemingly paying attention to very little. Men would stop her and invite her out with them. She would be polite and they would read into her. Women would try to get information out of her, anything they could scrape up to cause a scandal. But she was as clean as her white gloves.
He watched as she chose a cushy chair sitting next to the window. It was covered in sunlight that streamed through the windows, covering the chair in warmth and light. He walked, with his medical books, to a table some distance away. He pretended to read, as she pretended to study the pictures.
I watched them watch each other. I watched him steal longing looks at her and look away a split second before she would turn her head ever so slightly to look at him. I have never seen her as nervous as she was with him nearby. She is usually cool and smooth with men. She is always straightforward with them. She has never been turned down, but she seldom offers. He saw her for who she really was. He saw the melted heart that beat underneath the ice. I’ll never know what turned her away from men, but they loved her. She would not love them. She would never give her heart over to those princes that roamed this world looking for maidens to save. She had smaller saviors in her life, saviors weaker than her physically but stronger in heart, and stronger in love.
I think she saw in him the love he had for those children. She saw the way he puts them at ease when they are scared and hurting. She knew that he loved them, and she knew that he stayed awake at night thinking about them, crying for them, when he would let himself cry. She knew that his heart broke daily but he had saviors too. He had saviors who loved him, saviors who would kiss his heart and place band-aids on it with small, gentle hands. His saviors were weaker physically, but stronger in heart, and stronger in love.
This is what brought them together in this bookstore. Their hurt and their love brought them together. They were so different, and they knew that. They wondered how the other could love them. They were so insubstantial in each others lives. He was sure he was nothing more than an underpaid doctor to her. She knew she was nothing more than a spoiled princess to him. It was then that a remarkable thing happened.
Their eyes meet for the first time, but they saw each other’s hearts.