A Lovely Stranger

Pascal Campion

6 a.m.

The alarm went off.

Ben rolled out of bed, stretched his short, hairy arms and pierced the cold silence with a caveman-like yawn. He slipped his feet into a pair of worn-out slippers and embarked on a clumsy journey to his tiny kitchen.

Eyes half-closed, he rammed his knee into the retro, white fridge that stood in the corner and winced with pain. He cracked an eyelid open, smacked his lips together to get the taste of last night beerโ€™s out, and searched through his pantry for a bag of black coffee.

He poured the coffee beans into the coffee maker, cast a lazy glance out the window and froze.

There, on the long, metal staircase, suspended thousands of feet in the air and only a few feet away from his apartment, sat a young woman. The only companion she had was a scrawny, black cat that sat obediently by her long, bare legs. Ben figured it was below sixty outside, but she braved the cold, autumn wind in an oversized, dress shirt and cotton shorts.

Her face was turned away from his window, and even though it was shrouded with a curtain of long, black hair, Ben knew she was beautiful. He had seen her before. She had a pale, moon-shaped face, dark, narrow eyes and small, delicate lips.

She held a steaming mug in one hand, gently rested her chin in the other and gazed intently at the cityscape that unraveled before her eyes.

Streaks of purple, pink and blue peeked through the tall skyscrapers and illuminated the buzzing streets below. Rows of cars lined the roads โ€“ angry drivers honking their horns and shouting obscenities into the morning air, and infinite sea of strangers darted in and out of the underground subway station.

Ben leaned over his kitchen sink and studied the silhouette of her slender body against the first rays of sunlight.

The coffee bag he held in his hands tipped over and fell into the sink. He cursed at the top of his lungs, scooped the damp beans into his hand and after examining them closely, tossed them into the trashcan.

When he glanced up, the woman was gone.


A Lovely Stranger

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