Every Thursday, he spent his lunch with her.
He would pick up a sandwich from Hart's, then take the Tube to see her. He would get off at Russell Square, would walk three blocks where she lived. She was always there, welcoming. He grew to count on seeing her calm smile, her long brown hair.
He would eat his lunch on his way to see her, because he didn't want to take any time away from their meeting. He would sit on the bench, and tell her about his job. He was working at home, writing computer manuals. The money was decent, and he could set his own hours. Most women would be bored silly about hearing about the ins and outs of writing computer manuals, but she always listened to him.
His flexible hours meant that he could spend at least two hours with her. If he could, he would've seen her every day, but he had to work, and he didn't want to overstay his welcome. She was always so patient and kind with him. He liked seeing her on Thursdays, it gave him some kind of routine. He managed to block out noises; a mobile going off, a field trip with noisy children.
There were times that he loved her so much it hurt him, so much so that he wanted to take her home. Take her home on the Tube and just gaze at her, her white skin, her long white dress that had for a belt a string of daisies, how she would gaze at him with her eyes, as she would gaze around the beauty around her, the lillypads, the wildflowers that grew around her. He would tell people, look, look, this girl is in love with me. With me!
Every Thursday, the guard would have to remind him to not touch the painting. It was an original and nothing could happen to it. The man, as always, would back away, embarrassed, saying it would not happen again. She continued to sit there, with the flowers in her hair, and he thought of that old Tim Buckley song, the one he used to play over and over in his dorm room: Here I am, here I am, waiting to hold you.
Causes Jennifer Gibbons Supports
Gilda's Club, Greenpeace, Rosie's Broadway Kids,Westwind Foster Family Agency, Amber Brown Fund, Linda Duncan Fund for Contra Costa Libraries