Just next to the spiral staircase leading to the toilets at the Plaza Hotel was where he noticed her. They’d had a jokey exchange and when she came back up she had smiled at him. He was pleasing to the eye with a wholesome youthfulness about him. She returned to the coffee bar and was settling down to check her emails when he approached her.
Are you on your own? It’s just that my friend let me down and I have a dinner party which doesn’t start for another hour and a half to two hours. So I wondered if I could just kill some time with you for some of that time?
That was quite clever as an opening line – that guaranteed a short time window. It made her think she wasn’t going to be stuck with him all evening if he proved to be tedious. So she said sure and he settled down on an armchair next to hers.
He told her he was a post-grad student and had been in the city for nine years on a research scholarship. He was a Polish man who looked on the very young side of thirty. She was loathe to reveal her own age but in any event he didn’t enquire. She was quite flattered by his attention and after the cafe closed they walked around the city avoiding the more touristy areas until they arrived at an alternative bar.
She’d had two glasses of wine and a shot of rum earlier in the afternoon and hadn’t felt like drinking. Curiously he didn’t offer to buy her a drink but they continued discussing meditation and alternative healing therapies. At one stage he asked to hold her hand and, warmed by the atmosphere of the place – there was a live band playing downstairs and they were seated side by side on a squashy sofa – she offered him her left hand. He stroked her inner wrist and commented on the warmth of her arm.
She let him kiss her when he took her other hand and they continued kissing in the semi privacy of the seating area. There were a few musicians who clattered upstairs and they broke apart with the intrusion. It was soon time for him to go to his party and she was exhausted from traipsing about the city earlier. When they parted at the Metro they exchanged email addresses and he promised to invite her out the following afternoon.
When she went back to her airBnB apartment it was fairly late but she was still high on the chance meeting, the warmth of the young man, his caresses and kisses. So inspired was she by the encounter that she sat down to complete a sonnet she had begun in the early hours of that morning. The openness and courage of the young man was refreshing.