My brother, Dave was driving his blue Toyota towards home to Springfield. I sat in the front seat beside him, taking in the long line of cars on the road. Late afternoon had people coming back from work. Dave was quiet, looking straight ahead, his ears open to the car radio giving news updates on sports. It was soccer news and my brother knew that I had little interest in the game. I was content taking in the outside world where spring had shades of greens on passing trees. The sight of the perennials filled my heart with joy. Two months of the snow laden winter world in Massachusetts had my aesthetic being thirsty for colors in the nature. And the day, with flora and fauna waking up everywhere under a clear, blue sky held endless promises.
We came to a halt as traffic light tuned to red. From my seat, looking at my right, I could see a gray jeep waiting in the next lane. At the wheel, was a man around his fifties. He looked familiar, handsome with a sharp nose, strong jawline and brownish hair. Resembling some actor perhaps? His wide, generous mouth broke into smiles as he talked with his male companion in the front seat. He took a brief look on his left and I got a better look at his face. The sharp nose gave him a Roman look that was amazing. Being an artist, my senses somehow got glued to beauty regardless of its place. A handsome man was a mark of beauty to me and so I looked on, not aware that I was staring. Perhaps the mind was already trying to set that face in my next painting.
When one is at the wheels, the peripheral vision remains alert and the driver of the gray jeep must have felt my eyes on him. He turned his head and our eyes met. My heart went ‘flip’! He had wonderful blue eyes, bright and twinkling, just the way I love it. In that momentary meeting of our gazes, I could not hide admiration of him. He reminded me of Roger Moore, my all-time hero. And it was only few days since the famous actor had passed away. Rest in peace, Sir Roger Moore. The strong resemblance and the loss of my hero had my reasons and passion in confusions. Feeling foolish, I smiled at the driver, a friendly one. Fatal attractions are dangerous.
The driver’s left hand, which was resting on the wheel came out, ever so lightly out the window. My eyes caught the wave like gesture of his hand and the sunlight caught the gold wedding band on his hand. It sent the intended message alright. He gave it a few twitches as if to ascertain that I had seen it.
And I did. His action was as good as saying, ‘Hey don’t hit on me, I am married.’
I felt like an idiot but wondered if he was happy or not. My own marriage was on egg shells and so wedding bands made me think. Meanwhile, the handsome driver’s companion, a man of similar age was looking at me intently. Through the car window I could see them laughing and imagined them talking about the lady in the other car, that is Me. The friend waved his left hand suggestively and I could see his ring finger was empty.
‘I am still available, if you care. ’ I read in the movement. Single. I got the message alright.
Amused, I pretended to scratch my right ear with my left hand, making sure that the men could see my ring finger. I had no rings. The driver’s friend smiled and waved. Ha, something was happening! Just then the traffic light turned green and the gray jeep started rolling forward as did our blue one. It was innocent flirting I supposed. But I rather liked the other man beside the driver.
Dave was driving and still quiet as we came to the next traffic signal. Once again we got the red light. But oh! I could hardly believe my eyes. Once again the gray jeep came to a halt on my right. Both men in the front seats turned their heads and smiled, as if meeting an old friend. The driver’s friend looked straight at me and our gazes held. He had blue eyes too, dark hair and a nice smile, a sort of Italian look on his features.
The signal turned to green. But before the cars started moving, a visiting card flew in through my open window, right into my lap. What a perfect shot! Stuck in the cap of a ballpoint pen, the card could not fly elsewhere. Pen and paper, a sign? I wondered. A writer companion that my heart had been searching for? I looked out just in time to see the driver’s friend waving before the gray jeep was out of sight.
I looked at the card, reading the hastily written message, “Shall we meet?” I assumed the name and contact information were for me. Two doves flew past the windshield of our car making me wonder what was coming with the revival of the spring.
I looked at Dave to find him smiling that bemused smile of his. Soccer game updates were over and he has been observing his sister and her ring finger talks.
“Best of luck, Sis.’ He said as I turned scarlet, embarrassed at being caught.
I opened my handbag, to put the card inside. At the bottom of the leather bag, my wedding ring winked. I was glad I had opened it just earlier in the morning. Life has strange ways of leading us. I held my breath till I could make a special phone call.
Tulip Chowdhury writes from Massachusetts, USA.