Other Sides of Glassbyvictoriawhita©
The tension of the day caused my mind to focus on getting to one place, and my body to be driven to keep my energy up until I could arrive there. The beach, even on a cold afternoon, was the only place I wanted to be. After several chilly visits I'd learned to layer my clothes and take clothes that kept the chill off. I went to walk on 'my' beach, to feel the water and sand on my feet, to sit and watch the waves in hopes of seeing 'my' seal, to watch 'my' sunset, hoping to bring a relief to my frustrations and see beyond them. All these things became mine as I drew energy from them on my visits.
After my delightfully calm walk on the all-but-deserted beach, I stopped at my favorite restaurant. Happy that 'my' table was available because it allowed me a view of the ocean without my being the center of attention and having other diners wonder why I always ate alone. Considering the frequency of my visits there was only one dish on the menu that I could afford. After the waitress took my order for a bowl of clam chowder, which, along with the complimentary bread and water, would provide a refreshing meal, I turned to watch the sunset. Outside the glass window was a porch, and occasionally people would walk by and even look in at me, but this didn't hinder my enjoyment.
The colors seemed brighter that night…they spread wider. The colors changed slower than usual. Half of me wished for a camera to capture it, the other half knew that worrying about settings on my camera might ruin the moment. I could no longer just sit, and stood close to the glass looking at, what was now in my mind, 'my' sunset. I reached up my left hand, stretched my fingers on the glass. I closed my eyes and as I pictured my sunset in my mind and felt the hardness of the glass under my fingers, it was almost as if I had reached out and touched the sky. It was a powerful moment. I enjoyed the feeling but didn't want to miss more of the sunset. I opened my eyes without moving and found the sunset partially blocked by a someone standing between me and the sky. I was annoyed that someone would take this pleasure from me.
As my eyes focused on him his features separated him from the silhouette he first formed on my mind. I realized he was facing me and not the sunset which was unusual for someone just standing on the porch.
He looked to his right also at the glass and I realized his right hand was reached out to touch my left hand, but we couldn't touch because of the glass barrier between us. I thought of pulling away but because his attention wasn't on me but my hand, I didn't feel self-conscious and waited to see what he'd do next. He matched his fingers up with mine. I moved my fingers together and he did the same. I moved them apart; he did the same. I slid my hand down and then left and right and he did the same. I looked at him. He was taller than I, and seemed to have blonde hair, although it was hard to tell in the dimming light. I turned back to our hands. He now stopped matching my movements and with his finger traced the outlines of my hand on the glass, as if he wanted to memorize its place, its position, its look. It was as if he were touching me and I could feel my skin tingle. I wanted it to last, but was too curious. I wondered what he would do. I started moving my hand toward my face. Our hands seemed to be tied as his moved slowly behind mine. I moved slowly but purposefully towards my face. He continued to watch, and I watched his face grow nervous as my hand drew closer to my face. Where his face had seemed inquisitive he now reacted as a boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar as I stopped my hand under my eyes. And finally his eyes joined mine. What was this connection I felt and did he feel it?
Was it just a game for him? His eyes were so serious and deep. I felt his expression change to that of a boy in a toy store. Now my thoughts starting wandering to thoughts of touching him. If he could touch my hand through glass in such a powerful way, imagine how he could touch me in real life. Could I be having these thoughts about a stranger? I brought up my other hand and he 'touched' it also and we stood 'touching' hands looking into each others eyes. I heard a cup being put on my table and didn't dare look away, but also wondered at what I was doing. I gave in and let a smile spread across my face. He looked at me as if he were a puppet and my smile could turn his face into a smile…as if learning how to do it from me.
A smile came to his face as well. I heard the waitress ask me a question. I didn't want to look away, but felt I had to. I kept my hands on the glass but turned my head. She informed me that someone had sent a rose to me. I was surprised. What was happening? I thanked her and turned back to the window, but he was gone. The sunset had disappeared as well.
Now I was wondering it had all been my imagination. I looked around to the entrance and didn't see anyone walk in. I sat down, picked up the rose and sniffed its sweet scent. It was a mystery. Was it just going to stay that way and be a sweet remembrance? I sat down and lookedd around the room, looking at it differently this time. I did notice some people looking back at me as I looked at them, but I was sure it was because they wondered at my behavior, rather than because they had an answer to the mystery. The waitress came to bring me my food. I watched her as she left and walked through the kitchen entrance.
Then I noticed him sitting at a corner table. His eyes were on me so strongly I couldn't look away. He must have come in the kitchen entrance while I looked for him at the front. What was he thinking? Why had he met me on the other side of the glass like that? I wanted to meet this man. How do you meet a stranger? I'd never had experience at that. If he had sent the rose, what could I send in return? I had learned during conversation-filled lunches in my college cafeteria how to fold a napkin into a rose, like origami. I took my napkin and carefully made a rose, wanting it to be the best one I'd made. I called my waitress over to deliver it to the man at the corner table. Her smile was more than just polite. Her eyes twinkled as she agreed. What could the waitress know about the man? As she walked away I wondered at what I was doing, realizing how out of the usual this was for me. I sat still watching him as he received the rose. The waitress pointed to my table, but he stood up before the she was even finished her sentence.
He approached and I allowed this stranger to sit at my table. My eyes in a trance held by his. I hoped he'd speak first but when he didn't I said, "My rose smells very nice, thank you."
It didn't sound like my voice. I heard his voice then say, "My rose will not fade."
Many questions floated through my mind but I dared not voice them. He said, "What is it about Thursdays that brings you here?"
Did he say "Thursdays," plural? How did he know that I often came on Thursday? I was here other days too, but Thursday was a more regular day. The revelation slowly dawned on me that he must have noticed me some time ago and had been watching for me. I started to open my mouth with a quizzical look, but closed it again. He smiled as he realized I had connected. He seemed pleased that I had caught on, so it made me bold enough to actually answer his question.
I responded, "Thursday is staff meeting day, which causes a great deal of stress towards the end of my week."
"And you're a teacher?"
I was quite surprised at this and started to move away from him. Scared that I had starting thinking of this 'stalker' as a friend so quickly, I started panicking. He quickly explained, "I see you grading papers some times." I relaxed. I agreed that that was true. He asked me what grade I taught.
He smiled when I answered, "Grade Two."
I asked him if he was going to join me for dinner. Some tension left his body with a nervous sigh, as if he had been holding his breath under water. I could see him start to relax as he ordered a light meal. His voice was smooth and I knew I was starting to get caught in a magic spell. I didn't know if he had cast it, or some other force, but I was being drawn to him. He asked me my name, and I was almost surprised he didn't know, for he seemed to know so much about me. But I was also glad that he did not.
I asked him to tell me his name first. It was David…David Forrester. I whispered it to myself, so I wouldn't forget.
"I'm Victoria Whita" I responded. I knew I should be cautious but all of a sudden I wanted this man to know me. He licked his lips as if tasting the name and then repeated it back. I nodded. I knew I wouldn't completely relax with this man unless I knew. I had to know, so I took a drink and asked, "How long?" He looked up and seemed to not be willing to answer. I said, "It's important that I know."
He nodded and said, "You want to know how long I've been watching for you?"
He said, "It's like a dream that I'm not watching you again tonight. I used to work here. I noticed you even though I only worked in the kitchen. During my break I'd sit and watch you. At first because I was watching everyone. But soon I would look for you…always looking beautiful...one night windswept…one night looking serious and deep in thought." He moved his hand toward mine. I sensed he wanted to touch me as he spoke. I wasn't going to move toward him until I knew the whole story. His hand stopped moving and he continued, "Another night you looked full of sadness that I ached to comfort you. One night you were grading papers. The night you walked in with a guy, I was so jealous that I knew I had to meet you."
I was flabbergasted but let him continue, remembering how each of those nights I had felt so alone, but had found solace in my evening trips to the beach and restaurant. Maybe his unknown attentions had reached to me to add to the solace I felt. I didn't know how to react. I grasped my hands in my lap trying to control the shaking in my hands. I was starting to enjoy this story. He said, "I had another job offer at the same time I was wanting to meet you. And it was a job I was looking for, and I couldn't believe the timing. I thought I'd have to keep you as a just a sweet memory. Then I realized that if I just came here every Thursday night as a customer, maybe some night I'd have the chance to approach you. I brought a rose with me every Thursday night for the last 3 months. I always came early enough to get the same table by the kitchen and asked for yours to be reserved if possible. Some nights you didn't come and I prayed you'd be okay. I was jealous that you might be out with someone else. And tonight you looked so sad and even lost, I knew this had to be the time. That I wanted to do something to encourage your day. You were so sad you didn't see anything except the sunset and I knew if I could connect with you through the sunset, I'd get your attention. The idea popped in my mind and at the same moment that I realized it was probably insane, I was determined to try it."
"I slipped out through the employee entrance onto the back porch and stood on the other side of the glass, feeling that even though the barrier was there, that I was with you and giving you some of the joy that you've given me. I thought if I looked into your face I'd scare you away and you'd think me a lunatic. I had many times dreamt of holding your hand and I knew if the evening ended with me just holding your hand from the other side of the glass it would have been enough."
He came to the end of his story as if holding his breath the whole time. He had been shy and had hardly looked at me while talking. I had stared at him, watching his nervous finger movements and his uneven breathing. Now he looked up at me, waiting for some sign from me.
What he saw was some tears trickling down my cheek, and me biting my lip. Was it possible he had just said all that about me? Did I need to turn around to see if there was someone behind me he was talking about? No, it was me he was looking at. It was me he was talking about. I finally spoke, "I wonder if it was some of your concern and caring for me that I felt as I came here each week and felt safe. I always went home refreshed and feeling better, and wanting to return. Thank you." He was visibly relieved after I finished my sentence.
"So, you don't think I'm a lunatic?" He asked as if he needed more affirmation.
"I don't think you're a lunatic but I guess I do think you're crazy to be so patient and take so much care just to meet me."
I put my hand up resting my elbow on the table and looked at him. He put his hand up and touched mine. Our hands were together with no glass separating them. His large hand was warm and steady unlike my shaky one. I felt all the tension spill out. I had come for a little time to forget about my life stresses, but now had found the beginning of something new, exciting, powerful. I folded my fingers down clasping his hand, and he folded his fingers down covering r my small hand. We couldn't stop smiling at each other.
I wasn't going to let him go.