Oh she was pissed. She had just straightened her hair by one of those Israeli dudes on 75th Street on the East Side and now she was caught in this drenching rain. No, not drenching rain but a complete opening of the skies which came down as if she was under Niagara Falls. She had spent a big part of her savings for this because her best friend had recommended her to do a makeover. Now as she stood beneath the awning of some Cafe, her clothes wet and her hair ruined, she turned to look at her reflection in the window and sighed. The clouds had disbursed and some rays of sun were spraying heavy humidity – the streets were wet and smoking, like a pot off the fire doused under a running faucet. People walked with umbrellas pointing downward and half closed. The sizzling sound came from the taxi’s and cars tires as they rolled on the steaming tarred streets. Instead of the rain cooling the air it actually had made it even harder to breathe.
She decided to go in Bloomingdale’s to blow the rest of her savings on a cappuccino and a summer dress. She knew which one she wanted – was a printed summer Day tube, they called it. She liked it because it was sexy and it was time she showed and appreciated the body that God had helped her have.
She sat down in the Cafe and ordered her Cappuccino – twirling the milk slowly she thought about David and how he had tried to have her hid her beauty. He had become overly observant of his religion when his father died and he had no where else to turn. He befriended his old friend Daniel who was now a “Blackhat” in his community. When he told her she needed to wear only long skirts it was ok because it was kind of in style. But when he told her she needed to wear a wig and cover her arms – that’s when she declined. With no children it was easy to separate and then divorce.
At first she was ostracized by her family – why would she need to show off her legs if she was married and had the love she needed? Why should she tempt other men – or the evil spirit to cause the temptation to overtake her sensible judgment. It was when she looked into her father’s eyes and asked him plain and simple, “Do you see me as one who gives in to temptation or one to dress revealingly?” He looked at her, his eyes teared and he hugged her and whispered in her ear, “Tell him to go to hell.”
She looked across the Cafe and noticed a young couple with a new born child in a carriage. That could have been her if …
Johnny walked into the cafe with his bag on his shoulder and his baseball cap on his head. He saw Gabriela, smiled and they embraced. Old friends from a different time and place – they had not seen each other in over ten years since they graduated High School. Yet they recognized each other right away.
“Wow! You look beautiful! How are you?” He was blushing as he spoke – obviously nervous.
“Yeah – beautiful with my hear a mess and no makeup – you stopped wearing glasses I see?” She smiled. She thought to herself – “I cannot believe I am feeling this way…its as if time has not passed and I am still that teenager…”
“I heard about your husband – what a dick.” He laughed – she laughed as well.
“Yeah – well better now than once the kids need to walk around all in black and I am forced to wear a ‘Bur-qua’ with just her eyes peering out.”
“Wow – can I sit down? Are you with someone?” He asked referring to the table.
“No I’ve gone on some dates – but no one special.”
“Well I meant right here – can I sit down?” He laughed.
“Oh…yes I am alone.” She said – blushing and looking away. She felt she would tear up so she looked down at her phone as if there was a message. As usual there was none.
“Well you are not alone anymore – is that ok?” He asked.
“Yes of course,” She called the waiter over and he ordered a Latte. “Are you still in Boston?” He had moved to Boston when he went to College and was interning at some hospital – that was the last she had heard, at least.
“No I just moved back last month, I have an apartment down the block actually. I am at Lenox Hill working under one of my old Professors who is head of the cardiac surgery unit there.”
“That is great, I live around the corner on 61st Street.”
“So we must get together for dinner or just to hang out. I am not seeing anyone either if you are wondering; so hey two old friends are reconnecting…sounds like a movie.”
“Yeah when Gabriela re-meets Johnny.” They both laughed.
Johnny was excited and felt like a teenager for the first time in, well since he was a teenager. He looked into her eyes and he could swear he was transported back to a time and place that was thought to be forgotten; lost. He had been exhausted these past couple of years – working, running 24 hours, tests, interning kissing up – he was exhausted, tired and kind of in a depression until he walked into this room. Looking into her eyes he was invigorated and felt alive for the first time in a long time.
She sensed it and she felt it – for the first time in a long time she was feeling, “What was that feeling?” Oh, it was a sense of her skin coming alive, her insides re-hydrating and a sense of being alive. How can this happen all within a couple of minutes – hell it was really once she saw him walk in…crazy, I must really be lonely to let myself feel this way so quickly.
She smiled at him and he smiled back.