On the first Saturday in April Emma woke up late in the morning to find that there was not even a single crumb of food in the fridge, just a sticky note on it saying that there was not going to be any water running for the whole day. Such a great start of the day, she thought. As she changed from her pyjamas, she cursed her choice last night to go straight to bed and shower in the morning.
Minutes later she was walking down the street to the grocery store in plaid shorts and an old light blue t-shirt with bleach effect on it and the usual black bomber jacket. And there, while Emma had zero makeup and the messiest hair, she saw the prettiest girl she had seen or so it seemed in the distance. The girl was in jean overalls with a nude pullover, grey tweed coat and had a black beret on top of her head.
Emma’s eyes caught that the girl was talking on her phone fervently, apparently angry at something or someone and as Emma walked closer, she noticed the girl was also making all kinds of face expressions that were quite adorable.
She was either some foreign girl on a vacation here or a posh Instagram influencer fashionista. Truth is, the girl could be both but Emma chose to guess that the girl was only foreign because she heard her speaking English or more appropriately yelling English, and because for once she wanted to see a person dressed well without the shallowness of Instagram attached.
Suddenly, as Emma was a few meters away from where the girl was pacing around talking on the phone, the girl stopped talking and pacing and put her back against the brick wall of the building and sighed as if helplessly.
The girl looked around and immediately looked at Emma not because there was nobody else around, but because Emma was looking at her, too. Their eyes met and stayed on each other for a few seconds during which Emma froze in her tracks and managed to fathom a very nervous smile. Then she noticed that the girl was looking at her through tears. She felt like the girl had caught her casting her glances the whole time from the distance and at first felt a flush redness on her cheeks but in the instant she noticed the tears she felt a rush of empathy for the girl and wanted to do something.
“Hey” Emma said softly without really thinking what she was going to talk about.
“Hey.” said the girl while looking at her feet and crying quietly.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I am fine. It’s just angry tears.” said the girl as she wiped tears off her cheeks.
“Okay, sorry to bother you...”
“No, thank you for asking.”
The girl looked at her with a slight smile like Mona Lisa but through glossy eyes. Emma more and more thought she was the most beautiful girl she had ever seen. What else could she say to keep the conversation going.
“I really like your style.”
The girl looked at Emma with genuine appreciation of the compliment and then her gaze dropped to what Emma was wearing.
“No, no, don't look at my clothes, I just put on some to go to the grocery store, I was in my pyjamas two minutes ago.”
The girl smiled. “Still, I think you have some kind of cool style.”
Emma smiled back and fidgeted in her place a bit.
“Do you want to go to the grocery store with me?” Emma blurted and the girl looked surprised at her and said nothing. “I think we would make a good style balance, if we go together. It’d be like Lady and the… Hobo.”
The girl smiled and Emma noticed her eyes had stopped being glossy.
“Maybe, yeah. What are you going there for? I can help you with your groceries at least in return for your caring for a stranger.”
“I need to buy some things so I can cook myself something to have for breakfa.. lunch. Brunch. I am thinking maybe I will make pizza.”
“Pizza sounds like a good choice for brunch.”
“If you want you can also stay for it and have some.”
The girl smiled at that second invitation.
“I am Emily” she said and stretched her hand for a handshake.
“Emma.” said Emma and smiled back at her widely and shook her hand.
“Emma, thank you for caring for a stranger.”
“No problem, I do it every day.“ said Emma jokingly. “And you are not a stranger anymore.”
Someone bumped Emma’s shopping cart with theirs because they couldn’t pass her in the aisle. Emma was shaken out of her daydream of what it could be if she actually spoke to that girl after their eyes met. She sighed and thought again about that one quote from Lewis Carroll. “We only regret the chances we didn’t take.”
Please, read this:
This was Tonya Atanakova’s graduation short story, published here exactly as submitted.