It was damp out. Rain was threatening, but held off for the time being. It was certainly less than welcoming outside.
He stood there, taking in the greyness of the scene before him. He had had a hard time convincing himself that he should venture out of the hotel at all today, but felt that he had to. After all, that's what you do when you're on holiday.
Damn, he'd forgotten his umbrella.
Making his way along the city streets, he felt the slippery bumps of the cobblestone under his feet signaling that he was approaching his first touristy destination of the day. The discordant tones of the holiday musak, being piped out by some invisible source, were punctuated every so often by the harsh honk of a passing car or the whirr of bicycle tires. The holiday ware being sold in the decorated stalls lining the canal; the glittering lights strewn among the garland that hung from the boats in the water; the imported hats, scarves and gloves overflowing from baskets; the cutesy decorations and candles; the tourists chatting in their different languages as they calculated how much things would cost in their native currency...he tried to let the joyousness of the season permeate. The holidays, such a wonderful time for most, but a sad time for many.
Especially when you're alone. And lonely.
He continued on his path, turning around and noting that yes, the scene before him was indeed picturesque, postcard-worthy, even. He took out his camera, scanning for the best shot and then he noticed in the corner of the screen...her.
She walked with a sense of purpose, but he could tell as her gaze wandered about her with a bit of wonder, that she was likely a tourist. As he was. After all, it was in the middle of the afternoon in the middle of the week, and despite her stride, there was an aura about her that indicated that she wasn't sure where she was going. She must not be a local either - she was wearing grey, but she wasn't a blonde.
And as if his thoughts about her beckoned her attention, she looked at him.
He gulped, took a quick deep breath, and spit out, "Hi, would you mind taking a photo of me here?"
She gave him a friendly smile, "Sure, that'd be a great shot." And she walked up to him.
He couldn't believe he'd done it. As she approached, he noticed the map sticking out of her coat pocket. Bonus. She got closer, and as he showed her how to operate his camera, the faint fragrance of hand cream caught his attention. It was nice.
"Okay, stand back and position yourself right in the middle there. Great, that's it. Perfect! Here you go! So, do you think you can do the same for me?" and she pulled out her Canon.
What luck! "Why of course, why don't you get into the same spot".
And he watched as she positioned herself, stood with one foot in front of the other posing as if she'd done this thousands of times before, and gave him a glossy smile.
"That's great, thanks!", she said as she looked at the results.
"Could I ask you a question?"...he couldn't help himself. "I noticed as you were standing there, you were looking to the right. Any particular reason for that?". Okay what the HELL was with that question? He was rusty.
"I was doing that, really? I don't know, but I'm operating on about one hour's sleep, so I'm pretty tired and I don't really know what I'm doing!" she said with a laugh. She also had a look on her face that said "what a weird question". Watch your next line, buddy.
"One hour?" Here's a story... a party girl, maybe? Yes!!
"Yeah, I just got off the plane, and I'm forcing myself to adjust to the time difference."
"Where are you from? I don't hear an accent."
"I'm from Canada, here for work."
"Oh, do you come here often?" Oh God, did he just say that? "...for work, I mean."
"No, this is actually my first time here. Where are you from?
Okay, so we were getting somewhere.
"I'm from New York City. I'm here on vacation, actually..."
"I LOVE Manhattan, how cool is that?"
Where was he going to go with this now... think, think, think...but too late:
"Um, so the shops close in a couple hours and this is all the free time I've got. I've got to go...enjoy the rest of your stay here. It looks like a beautiful city!"
And then like that, she was gone.
And he was all alone again.
He looked down at his camera. He turned around to face the canal and brought the instrument up to his eyes.
And at the corner of the screen, he caught a flash of blonde...
This is my first kick at the "Writing Well" Challenge set up by girl-bloggyfriend, Mrs. Flinger. Genius. The assignment was to write about a Character. Here's the link to others: