if and when


I think someone once said that life could be encapsulated in 2 letters.


There she went.

And him, right behind her.

Lest you believe the erstwhile hero of this story a stalker, I must assure you he is nothing of the kind. No, seriously. He’s not going to just quietly follow a random girl that he sees on the street with no purpose in mind.

That said, our hero has actually lengthened his stride, and hurried ahead. Maybe, you would think, just to get a glimpse. In a completely not stalker-ish way. Or maybe not.


In fact, if one was to take a mathematical view of this situation: the chances of seeing her in the next 3 minutes can be modeled as a simple probability distribution with variables that include…

..um, hold on to that Gaussian. He’s spotted her. There she is.

She looks amazing. You’ll just have to trust me on this one. I can wax and wane prosaic about her looks and her gait and her face and her fashion… wait, do I mean prosaic? I’m gonna need to Google this one, folks.

In the meanwhile, our hero has caught up with his quarry. Before you ask, no, he’s not a serial killer, either. His looks? Does he even superficially deserve this creature that he has caught up with so quickly? I guess he’ll do. He’s no Sylvester Stallone, which doesn’t really mean much as Sly is, like, 600. A very bulked-up, ripped, and hormone-injected 600 at that. That said, I don’t see anyone else coming along who can carry this story forward. And as I said, our hero is not a killer or a stalker or, y’know, something worse. He’ll have to do.

It also appears our man is not one of those geeky tongue-tied heroes who will end up committing some sort of terrible gaffe in breaking the ice. He’s forging ahead. Fearlessly. The opening gambit…

“Wanna talk?”

These words hit her just as she realizes that someone arbitrary has caught up and is addressing her. Her face clearly conveys “Huh?” while her feet start the process of getting away from random-creepy-dude-approaching-her-on-street-and-asking-about-talking.

“You know, talk? As in conversation, a tête-à-tête, banter… something like those two dogs…” It appears our hero hasn’t actually checked whether said dogs are playfully gambolling together or going at it. Like really horny dogs are wont to do. I won’t say ‘bunnies’, as they are after all dogs.

Awkwardness ensues. She’s averting eyes. She’s speeding up. She’s close to running away. Or taking out pepper spray. “Ahem.. well, I’m.. um.. sorry.. that’s not.. well.. you see.. the idea was that.. ah, crap.”

A real wordsmith, our hero. I don’t see this ending well.

She’s stopped. Maybe she found that pepper spray.

“Do I know you? I should hope not, given your tact and conversational skills.” A little bit fearless, our little lady. But she’s being sane about it. Not too close to him either. Her response brings a rueful smile to his face. Or maybe that is more of an ingratiating smile.

“Well, it got you talking to me.”

Unfortunately, our hero is no pretty boy who can pull off this line with the requisite swagger. The line does seem to have hit a nerve with our lady, though. “If that was an effort to somehow hit on me, you’re pretty sucky at this. In fact, if that was an effort to generally socialize with another human being, you’re extremely sucky at this.”

Game, set, and match, I should think.

His ingratiating smile remains plastered on his face. “Maybe I should start over… I’m John.”

I will say this for Johnny boy: he doesn’t waste much time trying to make an impression. From her expression, I think our heroine is of the opinion that he hasn’t spent much time developing his brain either. “I assume that is supposed to imply that I introduce myself. I’m trying to figure out why I’m standing here talking to you at all.” John’s trying to think on his feet now. I really hope he has something more going for him than just  vaguely stalker-ish tendencies.

“You clearly don’t remember me, but we’ve seen each other around campus. I think you’re in my class. Thought of saying hi so many times before this butneverreallyhadthechance.”

John is babbling. Ever had that feeling of impending doom, that feeling that whatever is going to happen next is going to be complete and utter…

“You really have a sense of timing… John, was it? Stalk a girl down a relatively lonely street, and start with a seriously terrible line. Most people would have screamed in pepper-spray induced-agony by now.” Despite what this woman is sounding like, I wouldn’t trust her. Her hand is still inside her bag. Any sudden moves, Johnny.. and… “Well, yeah.. I really shouldn’t have startled you like that. But you’re still talking to me, so.. say, your name is…?”

This guy is seriously blundering his way through this.

Hold on… she’s smiling. I can’t believe this fool’s luck, but she’s actually smiling.

And what a smile to be on the receiving end of.

John, predictably, gets a tad flustered. “Um.. ah, well.. I.. thought.. you.. walk…” Holy Jesus Christ. This guy? Seriously? “With verbal abilities like that, who would not want to talk to you?” I think she’s just ribbing him. Well, I hope so. For his sake. Her hand is outstretched. “It’s good to meet you, John. I’m Clare. Maybe I’ll see you around sometime?”

Yeah, I think this is weird too. Why is she not ripping him a new one? Or even running away? John, of course, is looking like violins are filling the air with music. Like birds are singing. Like life is for laughter and joy. Like the air is filled… his fingers touch hers. He’s smiling. “Nice to meet you too, Clare. Maybe we can talk some more over coffee?”

That’s a pretty gutsy move, given the way this encounter has gone down. She’s going back to looking uncertain about him. “I guess…” Her voice trails off, and you have to hope that Johnny boy takes the hint.



I think someone once said that life could be encapsulated in 2 letters.
But that it began and ended with 4.

To be continued…

Written in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge: Cliffhanger! I’m open to suggestions on how to resolve this. Of course, I have my own resolution… which is now posted here: when and…

6 thoughts on “if and when

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