His lungs were this close to imploding when her arms touched his. It surprised him more when she placed her thumb on his left wrist and brushed it briskly, before pushing a packet of tissues into his palm. Schooling his features to give her a polite smile, he made sure not to hold his gaze for too long. He felt almost stupid for smiling when she darted a curious look at him. She circled her finger at the mess on his pristine white shirt and apologised again.
The coffee stains weren’t going to be easy to rid. He managed a stiff shrug, tugged at the cotton material that now stuck to his chest where the steaming liquid had spilled, and trashed the two paper cups that had fallen from her hands. Coffee she had gotten for some loser, like every other morning, had this time landed on him.
“I am so, so sorry,” she repeated, flustered. Frazzled, he observed, his heart aching. Life hadn’t cut her some slack; not with so much to deal with outside of this space. If he couldn’t stop her past from rattling her peace or make her off-hours better, perhaps he could help ease the misery of a work day. He made a mental note to check on her again.
“It’s ok, dear…” he trailed off on the Freudian slip. Punctuating it with a hum, he hooked a thumb backwards and bumbled off towards the restrooms.
“Bad day. Spilled some coffee. On someone. Probably burnt the poor guy too. Tyres were busted. The courier was stuck in the rain and couldn’t get our files to the client’s office. Got a splitting headache, broke a plate in a bout of frenzy. Bad, bad day.”
He glanced at the stars banked in the night sky, praying for strength to refrain from hopping into his car and driving straight over to her house. No, it wouldn’t be a good time. She had started texting him again, after months of silence.
“Luckily for me, the poor guy didn’t flare up. The client somehow received our documents. Aspirins appeared on my bonnet – and guess what, the tyres were miraculously replaced too. I wonder if there’s a guardian angel watching over me. I wonder if he knows how thankful I am. I wonder if he’s got someone looking out for him too. I wonder… do you?”
He rubbed his scalded chest gingerly, his hand finally resting on his impassioned heart.
He too wondered if she knew.
This is Part 5 of a story about two strangers. Two strange strangers.
Part 1 is here and the rest are linked up at the end of each post.