|Photo Credit: Caldwella via Wikimedia Commons|
“That player's apologetic grin,” said the guy next to him, “reminds me of the look on my hound's face when he's been caught crapping on the rug.”
James (not Jim, why shorten an already one syllable name) barely caught the words above the noise in the stadium. A most distracting noise, like a swarm of angry bees or a kazoo band gone mad underwater. It spoiled the game; and the World Cup was the one thing which he'd scrimped for, longed for, and fought for with his wife April for months. Her frugality, her pale anxious face, her soft voice, placating, pleading, had driven him wild. True, she was faithful and kind, and she always relented on things eventually. He was convinced that she lived to please him, and that sort of mild yet constant attention had become cloying.
So when the woman in front of him turned around (he flinched guiltily; he'd been admiring the fine curve of her neck), it was only natural that he would be struck by her exotic beauty.
“You're from America,” she said, as though it were some magical land and he, a mysterious stranger.
James smiled agreeably. “That's right,” he said.
She turned around and resumed watching the game. The vuvuzelas hooted in rising and falling waves like migratory birds. They were no longer a nuisance, but rather the backdrop to a grand drama; James fancied that he'd fallen in love.
Later, he followed her through the crowd, keeping close, taking every opportunity to unobtrusively breathe her in and make his presence known. A fine sheen of sweat broke out on his forehead. She was so obviously out of his league that he had to have her. He wondered if the white shadow on his ring finger was obvious.
When she stopped to adjust her shoe strap, James bumped into her, apologized, and then asked her out. She said yes.
Thus began a whirlwind of dinners, club dates, walks through the streets in a soft rain, days spent under the glaring sun. They clung, they fought, they made it up tenderly; she refused to spend the night, holding him off with an enchanting smile and fire in her eyes. He had begun to dream, vividly, of living here in this strange country with the heat in his blood and and the scent of her on his clothes. His home fell further and further behind, April paling into absolute insignificance.
James asked if she could ever envision their living together. She said yes.
Only a week, and yet he was perusing the daily papers for jobs and apartments, neatly checking off his List Of Things To Do. Which included April, of course, there at the bottom and just after “buy a used car”.
He told his new love that he was “involved with someone” back home, that he would need to tidy things up a bit, but that he would return in a few months. He asked if she would wait for him, and she said yes.
At the train station, James waited impatiently for her to show up. He resented her being late, stealing what precious time remained to them. Eventually she appeared, carrying a leather overnight case.
“You forgot some things,” she said, dropping it at his feet.
James was taken aback, and a cold knot slowly began to form in his depths. He watched her lips shape the words even though it took some time for them to register in his mind.
“I'm sorry, but you needn't come back. It was lovely while it lasted though. I'll never forget you.”
Her face belied the sentiment.
James managed a choked whisper.
Her fierce eyes were now those of a tiger; gleaming, watchful and wild.
“I just wanted to see if I could have you. How far you would go. I'm really quite content to live on my own.” And with that, she turned and walked away.So he stood at the edge of the platform, unable to move forward, unwilling to go back, and watching with impassive eyes the light of the oncoming train, as a lone vuvuzela sounded mournfully in the distance.
This was originally posted back in 2010 for the A to Z challenge.