Common, Now? Really? Carrie sprinted across the street, her slender legs carrying her as swiftly as possible towards the bus stop. There had been a storm warning, one she hadn’t considered well enough. Her timing had been off and her hopes of being safely seated in the bus when the rains began were shattering with every fat drop of cold liquid that hit her exposed arms. “Shit” she cursed softly as she began to run.
As if punishing her for daring to complain, the drops tripled and quadrupled and the winds hurled louder and stronger, almost hustling her to the ground. She couldn’t run fast enough, not when the heavy breeze was blowing right into her eyes, making it hard to see anything. Everyone everywhere around was rushing for the nearest sheltered place. Carrie couldn’t find shelter; she needed to find the bus stop. Missing that bus would mean going at least an hour late to her second job. Manager Justin wouldn’t like that at all. So she kept running.
She noticed someone rushing by. He wore a short-sleeved black polo T and black slacks, and had a backpack tightly strapped to his back. He was in just as much of a hurry as she was. The tiny black umbrella he attempted to protect himself with, was useless against the gust of winds that were tearing through. Its weak spokes flopped around in whatever direction the wind chose to blow it. He passed her and crossed to the other side of the road. Just then the rains doubled force and the light white cotton blouse and black pants Carrie was wearing, were now soaking with heaven’s tears.
He stopped rushing when he had reached the other side and looked over at Carrie who was hugging her novel and journal closely to her chest in an unsuccessful attempt at shielding the precious books from the pouring rain. Is he smiling at me?, she wondered and ran straight to him as though the smile meant ‘come here.’
“Haha, are you Ok?” he asked once she had joined him under his tiny suffering umbrella.
“Well, I’m soaking wet, and guess where I’m headed. To work!”
“Me too.” he laughed. “I have an extra shirt in my bag but…”
“Good for you! This is me right here. I have nothing. At least you thought to bring something with you. I’m coming from another job and I didn’t expect to get caught in this little disaster.” They chatted on; laughing at what would have been a miserable experience.
“I guess this makes for a great story to tell someday” Carrie said between smiles.
“I guess so!” he said and laughed. They exchanged first names and continued to talk. She found out he was Venezuelan and had been in the country 7 years, a tiny detail she appreciated all too much. The company was proving to be great and Carrie was yapping on about whether or not to go home considering her soaking condition, to which Tony said he couldn’t. He was the manager at his job, which meant mandatory attendance.
They were now approaching the bus terminal and she cursed every step they took closer to it. She was enjoying the bond she and Toni were sharing. Their chat had now settled on where she was going and what bus to take.
As if fate disliked that she was making such a good experience out of what could have easily been a miserable situation, his bus appeared in front of them on the other side of the street.
He pointed to it and said “I take the 38 bus. Does it go your way?”
“No.” she responded, disappointed that he was leaving, and taking away a great conversation, a sexy voice and his tiny black umbrella with him.
“Do you want my umbrella?” he asked as if sensing her feelings.
“No. You’ll probably need that later.”
He smiled at her and waved at the bus which was now almost leaving him behind. When he rushed to the door, he called back at her; “Bye!”. She smiled and waved at him as he disappeared into the closing doors.
Why didn’t you take the Umbrella Carrie? What is wrong with you? She kept reliving that conversation over and over wishing she had taken the umbrella as a souvenir of that moment.
Standing in the train 15 minutes later after deciding to go home, she thought about how charming he had been. His slightly bearded face was cute and he was easily at least 6 feet tall. His smile was warm and he had the sexiest voice a girl could ever dream of hearing; soft, yet very manly. Maybe the gushing wind had provided some sound effects.
It was the perfect way to meet someone. Someone with whom she could have shared many dinners and late-night calls, held hands and walked on the beach. She smiled at the thought of telling the ‘how we met’ story to their mutual friends and family. It was just too perfect!
Walking home gave her time to revel in that encounter. What if she had taken the umbrella? What if she’d mustered up courage and asked for his number? What if she had followed him on the bus?
The what-ifs seemed endless and she would always wonder. But somehow, that was the beauty of it all.
She had lived that moment with Tony, a guy she most probably would never meet again. She would never know what could have been. She convinced herself it was OK. After all, the magic of that moment under the tiny black umbrella is safely preserved in the mystery of not knowing.