Charlie walked down the street, eyes upwards, gazing at the light pink blossom on the trees. She crashed into a passer-by.
‘Oh gosh, I’m so sorry,’ she said as she bent to pick up the papers that had scattered from his grip on impact.
‘Quite alright,’ he snapped. His voice left Charlie in no doubt that it was anything but alright.
The sun shone brightly in her eyes as she stood, holding his papers towards him. Squinting, she said, ‘I do apologise. Spring is my favourite season. I was gazing at the pink blossom. The trees are so pretty this time of year. Don’t you think?’
She knew she was overcompensating. It was her thing. Fill in awkward spaces with unnecessary babble. Especially when faced with a person who was blatantly aloof. The lack of response from him was killing her, the silence deafening. She opened her mouth to speak but he beat her to it.
‘Yes, I suppose it is quite pretty. I’ve never noticed before?’
‘How can you not have noticed spring in the air?’ Charlie said, astonished. As soon as the words had tumbled out of her mouth she realised her mistake. She’d been rude. Very rude. He looked taken aback.
‘I’m sorry. Again,’ Charlie said, giggling. ‘We’ve spent two minutes together and I think I’ve said sorry three times!’
‘Quite alright,’ he repeated. ‘Think nothing of it.’ He cleared his throat. Charlie turned to leave when he surprised her by keeping the conversation rolling.
‘I’m Paul, by the way,’ he muttered.
‘Oh, Charlie. Charlotte Mitchell.’
‘Well, what do you know! Mitchell is my surname too.’
‘What a marvellous happenstance,’ cried Charlie. She noticed that he no longer seemed aloof. Whatever that was—annoyance, most likely—had lifted from his demeanour. As she gazed up at him, she noticed his symmetrical face, his brown hair that tousled over his forehead, and full lips. But deep within her, in a place that knows no reason, she felt a connection to him. She decided to go for it.
‘Look Paul. I never do this.’ It sounded like a lie even to her ears, but she was in for it now. ‘Do you have time for a coffee? With me? My shout.’
‘Charlie, I never do this either, but yes.’