The first time he saw her, she was walking quickly past him. She looked up briefly at him, her eyes glinting in the sun, her glasses perched precariously on her nose. And then she smiled. Josh almost tripped as he nervously returned her smile. He noted her black turquoise sundress billowing on her in the gentle breeze.
He wanted to turn and look as she passed him. He held his breath for three of four seconds before he turned to look. As he paused, she quickly turned in his direction and looked back at him. She smiled again. And then she waved, grabbed the edges of her sundress above her knees, and curtsied. Josh was frozen in place. He quickly gave her a quick wave and then walked away. A smile soon spread across his face.
Within seconds, he felt his lips go numb as he walked. She was pretty, of that there was no doubt. Probably eccentric. Her smile cycled through his head repeatedly. Forgetting his meeting in twenty minutes, he turned and ran back along the path. He didn’t consider catching up to her or what he might say.
As he turned the bend in the walking path along the business park, he didn’t have time to pretend he wasn’t running. She sat on one of the green and yellow park benches, leaning back nonchalantly, her left arm draped across the back of the bench. Josh slowed his run and kept walking toward her. The awkwardness almost overwhelmed him. Instinct took over. She wasn’t fleeing him.
As he neared her, he tried in vain to summon the right words.
She surprised him by speaking first. “Don’t you know you shouldn’t chase girls?” She smiled again. “Come sit here and introduce yourself.”
He numbly walked up to the bench and sat within two feet of her.
“Well,” she said, “Do you have a name?”
“Yes,” he answered. “Oh, it’s Josh.”
“Josh, I’m Jasmine. Pleasure to meet you.” She held out her right hand Josh took it. Her fingers curled around his and gently shook his hand.
She didn’t seem nervous or anxious about the moment of silence that fell between them.
“Why did you chase after me? This is your chance to do it right. I can guess, but I need to you say it.” She smiled and winked at him.
He’d never met anyone so confident or self-assured. Her black turquoise sundress lay against her legs. Her eyes sparkled behind her glasses.
“You smiled at me. It was like you saw me. You know what I mean. You’re a pretty lady. Pretty ladies don’t look at me.” Josh was stammering.
“They don’t? That’s too bad, Josh. You are an attractive man. Nervous, maybe, but we can work on that.” She waited for him to reply.
When no words came from Josh, Jasmine reached inside the small pocket of her sundress and pulled out a cellphone and little wallet holder. She extricated a business card and reached over to him.
He accepted it as if it were radioactive. He turned the card over. On the front, a silhouette of a woman and dark hair. Jasmine. Her phone number and email.
When he looked back up at her, she smiled again and said, “Call me. Don’t think about it. Just do it. I believe in this kind of capricious moment, Josh.”
Jasmine stood up and curtsied toward him again. She turned, her sundress twirling. Josh noted she wore white sneakers. He noted the gentle curve of her legs, too.
She walked away as if she had no care in the world.
Josh sat on the park bench, his eyes looking at the business card blindly. Suddenly, he realized he would be late for his meeting. He found himself running back in the opposite direction. When he arrived, he was panting and sat down at the conference table. Though the matter at hand required his attention, he discovered that he spent most of the meeting gazing out the window at the expanse of the park that ran parallel to the business park.
When the meeting concluded, Josh skipped the elevator and walked to the stairs, taking them two and three at a time. As he exited the building, he walked toward the small man-made creek next to the walking path. He took his phone from his pocket and nervously dialed Jasmine’s number before paralysis overtook him.
It rang three times. He decided she wouldn’t answer an unknown number. On the fourth ring, just as voicemail was about to engage, she answered.
Her voice sounded heavenly. “What took you so long, Josh?” She laughed.
“How did you know it was me?” he asked, a little confused.
“Fate told me you’d call.” She paused.
“I don’t get a lot of calls from fate,” he said.
“That’s a good start and a witty answer. We’re going to change that too.” He could hear the smile in her voice.
“Let’s talk about when we can meet and share some laughter. And whatever else percolates.” Her voice resonated with confidence.
“I’d like nothing better, Jasmine.”
They talked for twenty more minutes, their banter growing.
When he hung up, he stood by the creek, watching it flow.
Optimism gripped him for the first time in a long time.