It was a little after midnight, the snow was lightly falling, frosting the ground with cold, sugary powder. The night was cloaked in a thick layer of darkness, yet the moon was ever so slightly luminescent against the sky. It seemed to him he was in a dream; it was the perfect aesthetic for reminiscing.
And so he did. He reminisced…and images of her flooded his quiet cogitations.
It was late October, cool and breezy. School was bumpy and rough, and life seemed boring. He was the bag boy at the local grocer and going through the motions of life. Nothing interesting ever happened in Normal Town (as he liked to call it); it was the most basic, featureless town one could imagine.
That is, until, she appeared.
She was the type of girl to wear bright, floral dresses, decorated with chunky jewelry, and draped with a knitted cardigan, one size too big for her. She wore headbands and bows, hats and bonnets.
She made her grand debut at the grocery store on October 23rd, a Wednesday, the dullest day of the week. Her bright, joyous yellow bow caught his eye. Who-who’s that? He’d never seen her at school, in the park, at the store. But then he regarded her hair, a light auburn, and her nose, long and elegant, then her eyes, green and wild, and her mouth, pink and full, then her body, petite and quite tall. His eyes couldn’t seem to stop following her.
He watched as she picked up some pickles, carrots, walnuts, pie crusts and apples, along with a bouquet of pink dahlias. As she approached him to check out her groceries, his hands became weak with adoration which caused the jar of olives he was grasping to slip out of his fingertips while checking out the items of another customer. The old lady he was assisting glanced at the girl waiting behind her, and a soft, sweet smile began to color her disposition.
“Don’t worry about that, young man,” she said, “I see it’s been a busy day.” She winks, pays, and takes her grocery bags, heading out the door. The girl looked down and smiled as she started placing her items on the counter. He couldn’t peel his eyes away from her. He was scared, yet enlightened, frightened by her beauty.
She glanced up at him with wonderfully emerald doe-eyes and swiped her bangs draping her forehead out of her face. Any sensible person could clearly see he was falling in love with someone he didn't know the name of.
“$19.56,” was all he could utter to her.
Every day he would eagerly go to the grocers and do his duty, craning his neck over the heads of others in hopes of catching a glimpse of the auburn-haired girl. He would imagine talking to her, taking her to the coffee shop around the corner. He would wonder what clothes she would wear if she walked into the store to collect her groceries, a pink dress with roses perhaps? Maybe a light blue bow adorned with jewels? Pearls stringed onto a thin, gold chain and hung around her long neck?
Days, weeks, two whole months passed by like a breeze through his chestnut hair. He had created a script and memorized conversation starters. He thought of every possible question to ask her on their first date without sounding too, well, creepy. But a first date there would not be.
As he sat there, watching the snow gracefully coat the bushes and trees, he thought about how, if he had ran out of the store and left his duties behind him, grabbed her wrist and spun her around, if he had only done so and choked out the word “hello”, maybe he’d be happy, maybe he wouldn’t be wrinkled and full of despondent thoughts.
One year after first beholding the girl, he noticed her waltzing into the coffee shop just around the corner with another fellow. He watched as they laughed and playfully nudged each other, letting the wind chill his flesh and allowing his hopes to wistfully wash away with the air. It was no doubt that she had forgotten about him, if she had even let him squirm into her thoughts at all. He stood there for almost half-an-hour.
As the new boy she was acquainted with stood up and walked toward the lavatory, she caught sight of the poor, lonesome gentleman peering in from the cold. She smiled ever so slightly, but enough to say, "Hello." He nodded in response and turned on his heels to walk home. Nothing could fracture his sorrowful facade. It seemed as though he were sinking into a pit of devastating truth.
The reality of life was his worst enemy and closest friend. Without it, he would be adrift in a colorful, fake world, but it sometimes slapped him vigorously on his cheek, leaving a bruise of heartbreak.
The old man's dark, almond-shaped eyes followed the unique flakes of snow as they swerved through the air. He replayed a scenario of what might've happened if only he'd said...
"Hello." Her eyes shined miraculously in the blinding sunlight.
"Hey," she said.
"I-I'm Ronnie," he pronounced, gaining his confidence in one gulp.
"I'm Autumn." Autumn, Autumn, Autumn. He was never to forget that name.
"Well, it's a pleasure to make your acquaintance," Ronnie said as he bowed. She laughed a loud laugh, a charming ring that stuck in his head throughout the day.
"Please. I'm just a clumsy, 16-year-old girl who's bound to make a fool of herself."
"Really? You, this elegant, refined lady, clumsy?" he asked. She chuckled.
"Ronnie," she said softly, "what is it you want?" He swallowed harshly, gathering up the courage to speak what it was he wanted to say.
"Autumn, I like your eyes and your style. And your laugh...it was big and without care. I want to take you out. To dinner. To get coffee. I want to get to know you."
He paused this luxurious, yet imaginary idea. If only he was truly that bold.
As the elderly gent sat in his chair, he thought about where she was now. And how he would never know.