The amethyst set into the ring on his pinkie finger glinted with the sunlight as the young man sat, bringing the oversized cup to his lips as he looked out onto the steps of the Forum. He had a small leather bound notebook to his left, and he picked up a pencil at regular intervals, made small notes that brought a wistful grin to his wide, sensuous mouth before setting it down. He had dusty-blonde hair that caught the sun, held it with a loving care whenever he moved his head. The wintry sunshine made its way, embraced him and upheld his unadorned primal beauty with each ray that fell upon him.
He had on a battered olive leather coat worn over a chunky sweater that had stray threads at the hem and its sleeves protruded past the jacket’s dimensions. The waitresses made regular trips to his table, deferring to him with glazed eyes and dreamy smiles, the flush of emotion lasting long enough to get a refill or another slice of the delicious cheesecake that he would lift to his mouth.
He had spent the better part of the morning there, watching and writing.
Waiting, if anyone asked him.
Sarah had been eager to get away from the office and her head was ringing with the angry voices of the people who owed the business money, which was pretty much everyone. The fifteen minutes of peace that the library trip afforded her gave a brief measure of respite, between which were sandwiched the bear pit that work had become and the needling demands of mother, who had become bitter and mean with illness.
John had been immersed in the last few pages, eyes sucking up the last few drops of adventure and pathos in the heroes’ journey. His reading habits bordered upon the anti-social but he had developed a zen awareness so was able to happily walk around without bumping into anyone. He wanted to like people, but had been so disappointed by them that he sought to love them at a remove. His spectacles were balanced on the tip of his nose, and he often mismatched his clothes, pretending that he was simply affecting a nonchalance about fashion. In truth, he wanted to put his peacock feathers up but he had never found anyone who made his heart thump. He was a quiet man, but beneath that something roared, lost in a forest of propriety and waiting to be found.
The amethyst glinted in the sun as the man raised his hand, a conductor before the massed, unwitting orchestra of humanity. He knew the pattern of gestures, had done so ever since he wrote to the jailer’s daughter, and his words became the first things she had seen since birth. They had been co-opted in the centuries since, and yet his work was still, eternally, healing.
He lowered his hand.
Sarah had been distracted by a flash of purple light in her peripheral vision when she knocked bodily into him.
John held onto his book and managed to remain upright, struck by her green eyes and red hair as he sought to maintain some measure of aplomb from the encounter.
The man closed his notebook, slipped the pencil into the pocket of his coat and wiped the last dollop of mascarpone from the corner of his mouth. He left a healthy tip on the saucer and walked away with a jaunty flourish.
The couple stood there, awkward and stammering as the world gently but inexorably pushed them together.