Her voice was low and soft as she sang along to the background music, her hips gently swaying to Smokey’s high tenor as she browsed the shelves. Her shoulders moved in time to the beat and I noticed her feet had started to shuffle and she slapped her hand against her thigh rhythmically. She seemed lost in her own private world. Her complete absence of self-consciousness was beguiling.
I lingered to watch her, hoping she couldn’t feel my eyes on her. Dressed in faded jeans, a pretty feminine blouse and Converse sneakers, her chestnut hair piled up into a messy topknot with a few little wisps curled at the nape of her neck.
The music changed to another Robinson song and she instantly adjusted her movement. I heard her sing along, “Baby let’s cruise, away from here…”.
She knew her Motown; the girl had good taste! Totally lost in the music her hands rose into the air, finders clicking. With no warning for me to move and hide, she spun around; her eyes closed for a fraction of a second before she opened them and spotted me. A flash of surprise in her moss green eyes and I watched as her cheeks flushed pink. She tugged on her fringe as if to hide behind it, but I saw a small smile on her lips.
I wanted to go over to her, ask her name, but my feet seemed to have sprouted roots into the shop floor. The feeling of loss, of missed opportunity, as I watched her put down the jar of pasta sauce she was holding and turn to hurry in the opposite direction was extraordinary and out of proportion.
Her image remains burned onto my memory; her small stature, generous, shapely curves, the speckling of freckles across her nose and cheeks, that shy smile…
I will never know her name.
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