Grasping

... And just like that he was gone, again. She just couldn't figure out what she was doing wrong. On each encounter he approached her with an eager smile and ebullient spirit. At each approach the lines of his face were relaxed and his dark eyes wide and full of mirth. Yet within minutes of the encounter, sometimes within the moments between minutes, his face would grow hard, the deep lines of age would return, his dark eyes would lose all warmth, his smile would become forced and then he would excuse himself to tend to some important errand.

Each time she would politely excuse him and remind him that there would be other times. He would smile, briefly, and seem more relaxed and without a second glance walk away at a pace so brisk it seemed almost a run. Her biggest concern was the nagging feeling that this brief meeting, peering into the store window, might be their last.

She couldn't put her finger on it. Maybe it was the fact that with each meeting the following meeting was more brief and the gaps between meetings became further apart. Maybe it was the sudden onset of tension; One minute he was there, engaged in conversation and the next absent and looking for an excuse to escape.

Repeatedly playing the various scenes through her head offered no clue as to what she might have said or done. Their conversations spanned a variety of topics, technology, art, music, history, and science. She'd even had conversations with him about his late wife and his struggles as a single parent. There wasn't a common theme though, not a single topic or issue that seemed to spark his flight. This time he hadn't even more than said hello, looked through the store window with her, and then fled again.

She looked in the window searching for a clue, for a trigger. All she saw was her own face staring back. So instead of dwelling she decided to take action. Next time they met, she wouldn't be nearly as accommodating to his excuses. Through force of will she'd have him stay and talk and no excuse or errand would be accepted. She didn't know what it was about him that drew her in, but she knew that she needed to learn more. So with a smile she set her mind to it, and feeling relaxed went back to shopping.