“Go on, Ben, say hello to her,” said Samantha. “You said to call you when she came in again.”
The young woman in the gray hoodie sat at the same corner table as she had a week ago when Ben first saw her. She had left him a card unlike anything he’d ever seen. Again, it looked like she was taking notes from her phone.
“I don’t know,” said Ben. “She may not want to be bothered.”
“I’m sure she’d like to meet you. She asked about you, you know.”
“She did? Wow! What did she say?
“She came back to the café Saturday afternoon and wanted to know your name. We talked. She’s improving her English, mostly by watching television, but she has difficulty with some words, particularly those that sound alike. I told her a little about you and that you were going to be at the star party that night and I told her where it was.”
“So that explains it. Jon said a girl was asking for me at the star party. What else did you tell her about me?”
“Oh, I don’t know … usual things – things that are important to girls. “ smiled Samantha.
“Come on. What did you tell her about me?”
“I told her you were sweet, very intelligent, but frequently off somewhere in your thoughts. Go on. Take a chance. Go say hello.”
Ben hesitantly crossed the café and approached the young woman’s table. She had her back to him.
She turned around. “Hi,” she said with a smile. She took off her three-fingered glove – her small hand was completely normal. “My name is Kirizal (she rolled the ‘r’). My friends call me Kiri.”
“My name is Ben. My friends call me … Ben.” .Boy, that sounds lame, he thought as he said it. He stood there looking at her.
“Please sit down.” She cleared a place. She looked at him and smiled, which helped put him at ease.
“Would you like some food?” Ben asked.
“Fut?” she asked, holding out her little foot, puzzled.
“No, ‘food’, “ he said, emphasizing the “d”. “Foot,” he explained, pointing to his foot. He grabbed the menu and pointed to a photo of a sandwich. “Food,” he said, again stressing the d.
“Fut,” Kiri said, pointing to her foot. “Fooduh, “she said, pointing to the sandwich.
“Do you want to eat?” he said.
“Eat? … Excuse.” She pressed a key and spoke “eat ” into her phone. “Oh. Eat. I eat already.” She pointed to the sandwich wrapper. She had an empty glass.
“Want some dessert?” he said, hopefully.
“Excuse.” She spoke “de-sert” into her phone. She looked at the phone’s response and then at Ben, incredulous. “No, thank you.” After a pause she said, “You eat replit?”
She turned the screen of the phone to show him. He leaned closer to her, detecting just a hint of fragrance which she wore. What is it? he thought — attar of roses. Delicious.
On the screen was a photo of the Sonoran Desert with saguaros in the background and a lizard in the foreground, sunning itself on a large rock.
“Oh, reptile,“ he laughed.
“Desert,” he pointed to the screen. “Dessert,” he showed her a photo of pie on the menu. “I’m sorry,” he said. “English is so confusing sometimes.”
Ben motioned to Samantha who had been enjoying the interchange. She brought the iced tea pitcher.
“Would you like some more,” she asked Kiri.
“Oh, thank you. Yes.”
“What’s special for dessert, Sam?”
“Just your favorite – wild blueberry pie.”
“Fantastic!” He showed Kiri the photo on the menu of blueberry pie. “Dessert. Would you like some dessert, Kiri?”
“No. Thank you.”
“I’ll have a large slice, Sam.”
“Bring two forks,” he whispered to Samantha.
When the pie arrived Kiri showed a keen interest. Ben handed her one of the forks. “Please taste.”
She took the fork gently, touching his hand in the process. She tasted a small bit. “Mmm. … Taste again?”
“Sure,” replied Ben happily and pushed the pie closer to her so they could share it.
He looked at the black glove she had taken off.
“Your right glove has only three fingers. One, two, three,” he counted on the glove.
“Oh”, she said, laughing. He loved her laugh. “We left home in hurry. We took wrong box of gloves.”
“Oh. That explains it. So, …where is your home?”
“In the East?”
She thought a moment. “Yes …” and added “In early morning I see home in the East.”
Ben didn’t what she was trying to say, but didn’t want to embarrass her with more questions.
They had finished the pie now. Kiri took another sip of her iced tea. She looked at him across the table. He looks so much like my Benjamin, she thought to herself. She was smiling through tearful eyes. “Sorry,” she said as she wiped away the tears.
“What’s wrong?” he said, surprised.
“Oh, just memories,” said Kiri. “Happy and sad. You remind me of someone I once knew, a long time ago.”
Her phone beeped. She looked at the screen. “Oh. Have to go now.” She quickly gathered up her things, put money on the table.
“Maybe you can meet me here again, at the cafe, next week? We can talk some more.”
“Sure,” said Ben, just delighted she wanted to see him again.
“Saturday morning … about 10:30? OK? ” she smiled, offering her hand.
Ben took her little hand. “OK. Saturday morning. It’s a date.”
(to be continued)
© 2011 Eric Lord Bandurski
All Rights Reserved