"How is that?"
I barely registered the question. The slight perking-up-of-my-mind happened because it was said in a buttery British baritone.
"Excuse me, how is that?"
I could hardly ignore it again. I peeled my eyes off the page and looked into his bright blue eyes. His blond hair ruffled slightly in the wind as he started at me expectantly, sandwich forgotten in his gloved hand.
"The book, of course." His voice shook slightly, as though suppressing emotion that he was too embarassed to share. A grin was forming on his face, and I matched it with mine as I understood. Before me stood one of mine.
"Well, obviously it's amazing," I replied, gesturing with my head and holding the book aloft. He followed its progress in the air hungrily. "But it's not Harry Potter."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, it just really isn't Harry Potter," I bookmarked the page with my index finger and looked down at the name. J.K. Rowling, stamped in gold on the grey hardback. "It's on another level. I was a little shocked. In a good way. A little scandalized. In a good way."
His eyes widened with each word I said, to the point of bulging right out of his head. I laughed at the sight.
"We're not in Hogwarts anymore!" he stated in awe.
He definitely was one of mine. In this cold, rainy, unfriendly city, I had finally found a grown up, unabashed Potterhead.
"Do you have a minute?" I pointed at the chair across from me, slightly wet from the rain.
"Do I?" He sat down in it anyway, draping his trench on the back of the chair to reveal a blue pinstriped suit. How very Westminster of him.
"So I've only gone through nine pages, I don't mind starting over. I'll read it to you."
"Will you really?" he cried. "Wow, thank you!"
"Sure." It wasn't as if my boss would miss me if I was out for another few minutes. I rifled back to Page 1.
"The Casual Vacancy," I announced. I looked up at the stranger.
"Well go on, then!" He leaned his forearms on the table and shifted forward.
"What's your name?"
"Your name. I feel like we need introductions."
"Oh, like that French song?"
I smiled and shook my head. Always that French song. "Part one. A casual vacancy ..."
It was so easy in the past to let someone go.
You made memories together, you drifted apart first emotionally and then the distance took its toll, and then that was it. No Facebook to rely on for the occasional stalk, no Twitter to keep you up to date on his latest hijinks, no Instagram to spring a photo of him when you least expect it, no Pinterest to inform you that he had repinned a photo of an engagement ring under the "Tying The Knot!" board.
It was so easy in the past. If someone left, they really truly left. Out of sight, out of...
The rain drummed its beat upon my window. People scurried with their umbrellas like a multitude of colourful little insects.
I opened the window and climbed onto the sill, catching the rain on my face, letting it run in my hair.
There was a giant who loved a beautiful princess.
She didn't love him back and married a handsome prince instead.
The giant cried until he drowned in his tears.
And his tears turned into a river, and the prince and princess took boat rides on it in the moonlight.
Rapunzel liked to whip her hair back and forth.
One day, Prince Charming got sick of getting hit in the face so he cut off her hair
Then he felt bad so he donated all of it to Locks of Love.
Rapunzel had beautiful long hair, but shit got stuck in it all the time:
Autumn leaves, lipstick smudges, sesame seeds from her breakfast bagel.
If you look up from your laptop
You'll see me staring right at you, dear.