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Love, is it possible?
I take a deep breath mentally bracing myself for the fall and then I dive into the water. As soon as I hit the water I start propelling myself forward. My arms and legs cut through the water powerfully and I reach the other side in what I hope will be a good time. My swimming coach stops the stopwatch and gives me a pleased smile.
“A new record, Mia,” she grins, “Practice is over, but I’ll see you here tomorrow.” Then she walks away, her shoes echoing on the tiled floors loudly. I clamber out of the pool and head to the changing rooms. I’m the only one here because I stayed late for extra practice. I dress quickly and practically sprint to my car. If I hurry now I’ll still catch him before he leaves.
I drive recklessly until I reach Starbucks. Thankfully the queue is short and I order my chai tea latte without any problems. I crane my neck to see if he’s sitting in is usual spot by the window. I spot his dark curly head burrowed in the pages of a thick book. I smile and walk to the table in front of him. I settle myself down and take out my worn out copy of Wuthering Heights.
I stare at the pages without really seeing them. I think of all the reasons I could walk up to him. I could pretend to be really interested in the book he’s reading. Except it doesn’t say the book’s title on the cover, it’s one of those old leather-bound ones. I could just go up to him and start talking. No, no. That would be weird. My mother says dating is like swimming; the first date is that first dive where you're still unsure of yourself, but when you reach the other side you'll either feel satisfied or terrible and that's how you know if the second date will be worth while.
I’m still contemplating how I’ll approach him when I hear someone chuckling. I look up from my book and see him. He’s looking right at me with his gorgeous green eyes and laughing. My eyebrows knit together with curiosity. Why is he laughing at me? Do I have something on my face? I hesitantly reach up and tuck a loose strand of hair behind my ear.
“Do you make it a habit to read books upside down?” he asks his eyes glinting with humour. I glance down and realize I’ve been staring at the page without noticing it was upside down. I turn bright red and duck my head in embarrassment.
“I…have a lot on my mind,” I say with giggle and then I slowly turn around my book.
“I can see that,” he laughs, “You did look very into the book though. I thought it might have been a new ‘thing’.” After a minute of laughing like lunatics, he folds the page of his book and stands up. Immediately I sadden thinking he’s leaving, but then he sits down in front of me.
“My name is Eric,” he sticks out a hand for me to shake and I do willingly. His touch sends a boatload of shivers up my arm, yet I feel too hot.
“I’m Mia,” I smile shyly, “Nice to meet you.” I take a sip of my latte and nod to his book, “What are you reading? I tried looking for a title but…” I trail off realizing how stalker-like I sound; however, he doesn’t seem to notice.
“It’s Utopia,” he enlightens me, “My father gave it to me. It’s a very old copy, but thankfully not in Latin. I took Latin in school, but…well let’s just say I didn’t really excel at it.” I smile and now I have an idea of how old he is. He’s finished school, a college student maybe?
“I’ve never read it,” I admit partly wishing I had so I could impress him, “But it’s the perfect society, right? Utopia, Dystopia.”
“Yeah,” he agrees, then nods his head to my book,
“What about you? Wuthering Heights? For the…one millionth time?”
“No,” I smile with mock offense, “Only the seventeenth time…” I look away guiltily as if I’ve committed some sort of crime.
“Don’t worry,” he laughs and then glances side-to-side as if someone might be listening in on our conversation, “Just between you and me, I’ve read Great Expectations twenty-one times and counting.” He pulls out a dog-eared copy of Great Expectations with a smile. I’ve seen him reading it before and I blush remembering how I used to watch him from a distance. I didn’t stalk him; I just made sure I was here at the same time as him. This is the first time we’ve ever spoken before, but I’ve been taking note of him for a few days now.
“ ‘If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all,’ ” I murmur and then feel instantly uncomfortable under his intense stare, “It’s Oscar—
“Wilde,” he interrupts, “Yeah I know it.” He stares at me some more and I watch my hands intently so I can avoid looking into those deep green eyes. My hands are shaking just a little a sign of my nervousness. I finally dare to meet his eyes and I’m shocked to see how open they are, like every emotion he could possibly feel is playing just behind the green and so much as one word might bring them all bursting out. A woman walks by and stares at Eric with obvious interest and just like that the moment is over. He glances away from me and clears his throat.
“I should go,” I mutter, thinking he didn’t want me here anymore. There are many more women interested in him, why did I think I even had a chance? For all I know he might already have a girlfriend! I stand up; sling my bag over my shoulder and start walking away, my cheeks burning.
“Mia, wait!” he calls and then I feel a strong hand clasp tight around my wrist, “You forgot your book.” I turn around and he’s grinning with my battered copy of Wuthering Heights in his hand. I quickly grab it off him and stuff it in my swim bag.
“Thank you…” I smile and then feel like I should say more, “I would’ve been lost without it.”
“ I took the liberty of marking my favourite quote,” he says with a sly grin and then he turns away.
“Wait!” I shout and every eye in the café turns to look at meme. I gulp, but know I have to get this out, “Will I see you again?”
“I hope so,” he declares eagerly.
“But then…” I pause unsure of myself, “Won’t I need your number? Or you can have mine…? I just…” I stare desperately at him hoping he’ll offer his number but he just continues smiling like an idiot. I leave without a backwards glance feeling utterly humiliated and vowing to never step foot in Starbucks ever again.
Out of curiosity I take out my Wuthering Heights and turn to the page that’s folded. His coffee receipt is tucked in beside the quote I’d marked with red pen in a moment of complete longing. “If he loved you with all the power of his soul for a whole lifetime, he couldn’t love you as much as I do in a single day.” In the margin I’d written: Love like that; is it possible? Then I turn over the receipt and just like that my whole day turns back around to become one of the best in a long time.
Yes, it’s possible.
And I believe him.