Rain fell from the sky in great silvery skeins, dancing in the brilliant light of the sleeping city like beads of pearlescent opals falling in imposing succession from the heavens. It traveled in great rivers over the small window in Sam’s tiny studio apartment, casting a kaleidoscoping stream onto the peeling wallpaper across from the window. She extended her hand into the shadow, watching the wild stream streak down her tiny wrist, like a crimson ribbon of blood.
God, you have a dark mind, no wonder you have no friends.
“No, you have no friends because you don’t know how to interact with people since you spend all your time with fictional characters.” Her soft voice was piercing in the silence of the room.
And because you talk to yourself.
Sam burst from the couch, sweeping aside a fuzzy throw blanket and a pillow with a cat printed in repose across it. Scorn drew her face into sharp angles as she studied the fallen kitten. Hell, the only reason she didn’t have a live one was because the landlord wouldn’t allow it.
If not for that you would already be a crazy cat lady. You are pathetic.
She stormed to the window and studied her reflection in the dark glass, trying to ignore the rivulets that ran down her, blurring her face and causing her skirt to dance to an erratic rhythm. Gently, Sam smoothed the flaring black fabric of her skirt and pulled up the supple leather of her brown boots, studying the way they hugged her calf before coming to a stop at her knee.
“Today’s Horoscope: A dull person will suddenly become interesting,” she whispered to her reflection.
Right. Her reflection rolled large brown eyes at her. That’s why you got all dressed up only to sit at home.
Movement below caught Sam’s attention and derailed her mental chastising. At the far end of the street, a man rushed through the torrential rains with purposeful strides. The shower slicked his long hair back and poured off of the tweed material of his dark trenchcoat. Something about the hunch in his shoulders and the lift of his chin reminded her of a description she had once read of Edgar Allen Poe, with perhaps too much wine in him, storming down the street in a downpour, muttering to himself. Sam was so struck by this image that she dashed to the entryway and snagged her coat.
What the hell are you doing?
“Being interesting,” she whispered as she dropped her keys into her pocket and double checked to be sure her apartment was locked up.
Sure, chasing some dark and mysterious stranger is interesting, not suicidal.
Steeling herself with a deep breath, Sam paused for only a second before dashing down the stairs, nearly bowling over a neighbor before making it to the street.
“Whoa there, Sam,” an elderly man called as he stepped out of her way, “Happy New Year!”
“And a happy New Year to you, Roy,” she hollered as she dashed out into the dark shower. The trenchcoat-clad man was a block ahead of her as she jogged at a steady pace behind him.
Three blocks and some heavy breathing later he ducked into a small bakery. Sighing, Sam slowed her pace and turned into the bakery a minute later.
Oh Lordy, you are out of shape.
A shock of intense blues eyes captured hers as she scanned the room. Breathing became even harder as she struggled to break the gaze of the stranger she had followed into the aromatic room.
You’re not supposed to make eye contact with the man you are stalking.
“I’m not stalking him,” She whispered to herself as she studiously examined the menu.
Again, this is why you don’t have friends.
“Pardon?” A springy barista asked, studying Sam with a crooked smile over the counter.
“Uh,” She glanced at the menu, “Peppermint Latte and,” She paused as her gaze wandered over the desserts in the display case, “And one of those lemon bars.”
Sam waited patiently for her treats and wriggled into the nearest booth as soon as she had them in her hands. The problem was where to look once she sat down. The snowflake design on her latte became intensely interesting as she did her best to avoid glancing at the man in the trenchcoat.
Try as she might, her gaze kept drifting to him. Through her periphery, she determined that he had a strong Roman nose, and ebony hair, long enough to be brushed back to the nape of his neck. She wanted to know more about him than she could tell with her sideward glances. Did he have a square jawline? What was the shape of his face? What would happen if she lost herself in those sky blue orbs?
Careful now, this is a complete stranger. It would be just like you to fall in love with someone you’ve never met.
“I’m not in love,” she whispered, blushing under the harsh glare of the fluorescent lights, “I’m just curious.”
At that declaration the man in the trenchcoat stood, signaling a kind goodbye to the barista before disappearing into the wet night. Sam cursed under her breath as she forced herself to remain in her seat and not immediately pursue her mysterious muse.
Maybe you should just go home and go to sleep.
Her heart sunk at that suggestion and she leaped into action, tossing a couple of dollar bills into the tip jar as she made for the door.
“Good luck, Honey,” the barista called after her with a wink.
Oh great, it’s so obvious that the barista is wishing you luck.
Gritting her teeth, Sam returned to the streets, steeling herself as a cold wave of droplets stung her face. Panic gripped her as she glanced right and left, searching for her query. To the south, she glimpsed the tail end of a dark trenchcoat as it rounded the corner, out of sight. Sam let out a breath of relief and jogged the remainder of the block, slowing to a walk as she turned the corner in time to see her man turn into a Powell’s.
“It can’t be,” she murmured as she followed his footsteps into the bookstore.
Oh, please! Just because he went into a bookstore does not mean he’s your soul mate.
“Better than the last man I dated,” she countered.
Oooh, best to avoid that train of thought altogether.
Taking a deep breath to settle her wildly skittering heart, Sam searched the entrance to the immense bookstore for the man in the trenchcoat. Out of habit, she paused for a moment and inhaled deeply. The musty scent of old books enveloped her, bringing to mind soft lamplight, the crackle of a warm fire, and the companionship of old friends trapped forever between the pages of her favorite tomes.
Oh, please let him be a classics guy.
“I knew you’d come around,” she exclaimed before biting her lip.
You really shouldn’t talk to yourself in public; people might think you are crazy.
Too late for that.
Sam carefully followed the tail of that trenchcoat through the maze of books that made up the giant store. As she followed her muse, Sam found herself getting lost in the lure of a new book. Several times Sam almost lost the trail of her mysterious man to a book. By the time she rounded the corner of a large bookshelf into the realm of Hemingway and Eliot she had several new treasures clutched in her arms.
A gasp escaped from Sam as she came to a sudden halt in front of her muse. Crystalline eyes held her gaze, and she stared up in disbelief. His smile was knowing and gentle but his arched eyebrows furrowed in a way that set her heart thundering.
“You’ve been following me,” His voice was dark and smooth as it rolled over her, sending a shiver down her spine.
I-what? I didn’t mean to get caught? Oh, perfect, how are you going to get yourself out of this one?
End of Part 1
To read Part 2 click here
I was challenged by a friend to write a story about a dull woman who becomes interesting. I hope you enjoyed the fruits of this challenge. I will continue adding to this story every Sunday until it is complete.