So Close, and Yet So Far… (Standalone Story)

As I sat sipping my coffee, I savored only one thing more than its smooth richness, and that was her. She sang like an angel, and her flowing red hair and green eyes gave her an attractive quality that I couldn’t quite describe. The crowd loved her, and I could see why. Her harmonious guitar musings were surpassed only by her creative license for the sung word, and when the two were placed in close proximity of one another, it made me feel like there was a toaster buried somewhere in the depths of my heart, and her siren’s call was the sole power that could awaken that very toaster and cause it to emit a tingly warmth like that of a space heater. Maybe the six cappuccinos were influencing my rational thought, but I couldn’t help but think that I loved her.

The lovely young woman finished her performance and began to pack up her equipment. I knew she would be heading home now, in her red Toyota Celica, now ten years old.

Some would call me a stalker. I do follow her without her knowledge. At least I think it is without her knowledge. I, however, would not call my interest an obsession, merely a fascination with this young woman who had so suddenly taken my coffee shop by surprise with her non-threatening universal aesthetic appeal and ungodly tact for language and music and the delicate combination of the two. I wanted to be closer to her, to be involved in her life, to love her, to be loved by her, but, alas, I could not. When I got near enough to her, I always shied away as does a cat from a stranger. I was in quite a fix – I could not get close to her, but I could not let her go.

As I arrived outside her apartment twenty minutes later, her car was already parked in the lot. The light from her apartment shone through the window, a beacon signaling to the entire world that a goddess lived there, and that she had retired to her quarters for the evening. My apartment was in the building across from hers, and I went up to my room, to see if I could catch a glimpse of her life.

Usually, she would abruptly shut her curtains, quickly curtailing any observation of her in-home life, but tonight I was surprised to see that the curtains remained spread, revealing the inside of her apartment. I could see her as she cast aside her guitar case onto the couch. Her jacket was already thrown across the chair next to the entrance. Her bookbag remained by her side, faithfully toting all of her necessities to and fro. She began to remove small rectangular objects from her bag, unidentifiable by my weary eyes. Through binoculars, I could discern a distinctly familiar shape – a wallet. My wallet. At least I thought it was my wallet. It sure looked like my wallet. Oh, how I hoped that it wasn’t my wallet. My fears turned to anguish as she pillaged the wallet, removing my money and a small card. As I squinted through the binoculars, I saw a reflection of myself, a blurry image of what may very well have been the worst picture ever taken of me. It was my driver’s license.

My mind suddenly took me back to earlier that evening, as I was standing to leave the coffee shop. As the young woman was making her way through the crowd, her guitar strapped to her back, she bumped into me. I had dismissed the accident as a simple bit of clumsiness, as I knew I had not been paying attention to where I was or where I was going. My eyes had been fixated on her; ever since I had first seen her, I had felt an attraction such that I had never experienced before, and that only intensified with each new sighting. Her fiery red hair came down past her shoulders, and had natural subtle curls that any man alive would kill to run their fingers through, and any woman alive would kill to have. Her hair also had a visible softness to it, as did her skin, which was not spoiled by the sun. Her looks always put me in a trance, and I felt responsible for our abrupt encounter. We mumbled our apologies, and she spared no time in heading for the exit. She looked exquisite both coming and going, and as I admired her curves from behind, I decided I should be going, as my business at the coffee shop was finished.

As I watched her with disappointed eyes, she pinned my license to a board with countless others, no doubt souvenirs from previous unsuspecting suckers who had been robbed by this so seemingly innocent beauty. I was appalled.

I was taken so aback by the evening’s transpirings that I could not quite decide how I should react. I could go to the police. All the proof was right there on one wall in her apartment, but somehow I knew I didn’t have the heart to turn her in. I could confront her about what she had done, tell her everything I knew, and give her a chance to change her ways. However, as I could barely tell her my name and that I thought she was a magnificent musician, I wondered how I could ever accuse her of being a kleptomaniac. I decided I should use her weakness for sleight of hand to my advantage.

The next week, my redheaded beauty was present at the coffee shop, as I had hoped she would be, and after a wonderful set of melodies, we crossed paths again.

“Excuse me, miss,” I spoke softly, “I should have been watching where I was going.”
“No, entirely my fault, sir, I wasn’t paying attention,” came the even softer reply.

I felt for where my wallet had once been, and as I suspected, it was nowhere to be found. I was not worried, however, as the wallet was worth approximately six dollars and contained only a note reading quite simply “Meet me for coffee at the shop tomorrow at six in the evening.” That would surely get her attention.

I was quite disappointed the next day when she did not make any attempt at an appearance to meet me. It was not unexpected, but I had held out hope anyway. Even more disappointing than the lack of a date was the fact that six days later, upon arriving at the coffee shop, I was greeted with a solemn crowd, with looks on their faces as though they had just heard that their mothers had all died. Our mysterious musical beauty had left town.
I stepped out of the coffee shop onto the busy sidewalk and began to walk to my car. A neon sign across the street caught my eye that belonged to the window of a music shop. A man inside was walking around with a set of keys, locking cabinets and display cases. An acoustic guitar sat in the window with a few other assorted instruments.
I turned to walk back to my car, but stopped, walked across the street, entered the shop, lifted the guitar from the window, and proceeded to the cash register. The man with the keys locked the case in front of him and slid behind the register. Without saying a word, I set the guitar on the counter and got out my checkbook.

“It’s a lovely guitar. A young redheaded lady sold that to me just this afternoon. I could part with it for two hundred and fifty dollars.”

I signed the check and handed it to the clerk. I figured I would never see her again, but looking at the guitar, I knew it wasn’t going to be unbearable. Before I left for home, I had a single question.

“Do you offer lessons?”