Short story: The Encounter
I was like any other traveler in a foreign land, frustrating the local inhabitants with my ponderous movements, while trailing a heavy suitcase behind me.
It had only been my quick reactions that had stopped my case from plunging onto a woman, when it toppled over, as I momentarily relinquished my grip while entering the metro.
Normally one might expect a look of admonishment, a scowl through gritted teeth, but no such look was forthcoming: indeed quite the reverse, a sweet smile radiated, despite the fact that my suitcase if full impact had been made, would have caused considerable pain.
I apologized profusely, but she said nothing; that smile sufficed. I struggled with that heavy suitcase onto the platform and waited for the train to arrive.
Having settled on the train I noticed the same woman, with the radiant smile.
I was compelled to stare at her.
There was something unfathomable about her, something that led me to conclude, I couldn’t let her go, I had to do or say something.
There were bodies cluttered in front of me, acting like huge barriers, obstructions in front of this exquisite woman. I lost control not only of my emotions but my mind.
“I want to marry you,” I blurted out. gesticulating in her direction. The whole carriage gawped at me, some chuckled and mocked, some just wore looks of stark amazement: a stranger on a train asking a woman to marry him.
The woman blushed , but that smile of hers ventured again onto her face.
She was pinned against a wall, surrounded by tourists with hefty suitcases. What if she hadn’t understood me? My
voice had been sincere and honest, my proposal genuine.
The volume of people talking seemed to gather strength. After a few stops, she smiled at me and much to my pleasure gestured to me to get off at the next stop.
Sometimes when traveling, you might envisage a fellow traveler is the person of your dreams, Few would act on their instincts, most would let that person slip away, out of their lives. Only the brave or reckless might accost, a stranger, a traveler, that had caught their roving eye.
I shuffled onto the platform, with great anticipation.
Her voice was sweet.
“Quite a generous and bold offer,” she purred.
“It’s not something I normally do,” I said reticently.
“I thought it was normal to go on a few dates, before entering into marriage,” she mused, with an impish grin.
“Well, yes,” I replied.
“I am not too familiar with dating,” she said, lowering her eyes.
“Oh, yes?” I said, with a quizzical look.
“Well, you see, I spent my childhood in an orphanage, and have led a somewhat secluded existence.” She unbuttoned her raincoat and pulled out a huge silver crucifix and looked at it proudly.
“I am afraid I could never marry you,” she lamented. “I am on my way to become a nun.”
Francis H Powell recently published Flight of Destiny, a book of short stories. (Find out more here.)
Born in 1961, in Reading, England, Powell studied Art, receiving a degree in painting and an MA in printmaking. In 1995, he moved to Austria, teaching English as a foreign language while pursuing his varied artistic interests and adding music and writing.
He currently lives in Paris, songwriting, doing concerts, and writing both prose and poetry.