Tiny explosions of sulphur kept my cigarette burning as it lay ignored between my fingers. Wisps of smoke would rise and then be brushed aside by the breeze. White light filtered through onto the balcony, sliding along our backs as we looked out onto the sprawling suburban lights. Traces of moonlight would come and go, and but for the occasional door slamming somewhere in the distance everything was silent.
I looked at her then, as I had many times over the past few days. She sat with one leg hitched up on the chair and the other stretched out in front of her. She brushed her hair back and across her face. She looked at me.
“What?” she said as she tilted her head to the side as a smile slowly took shape on her lips. It stretched up the length of her face and ended with the crinkling of the sides of her eyes.
I looked away as I felt butterflies twitch in my stomach and slowly float higher up until they were caught in my throat. Taking a drag on my cigarette I looked back at her.
“Nothing”, I said shaking my head. I leaned on the railing of the balcony and tried to smother the doubts and insecurities that suddenly assailed me, threatening to burst through.
I looked back at her.
She was beautiful.
The way her hair fell along her face, her sharp features accentuated by the fragile light. Her chin held out proudly, her shoulders slumped forward in a way that I assumed meant she was comfortable. Her eyes, they held things in them that if she wished to use, I knew would rattle me to the core. But they held warmth as well. But not for everyone. She chose who.
I imagined then (for whatever obscure reason), that we weren’t on that balcony anymore. We remained the same, me standing and her sitting the way she was. But the world around us changed. We were at the Baroque Belge in Bruges, sitting amid black marble. We were at a café in Rome’s Piazza Navona, listening to voices bounce of the buildings in symphony. We were on the beach in Phuket as waves crashed onto the coast. It didn’t matter where we were, she belonged. The places seemed more hers then she was theirs.
I smiled to myself as I thought of how out of all those places she was here with me now. In a nondescript flat, on a quiet night, on a dim balcony, with me.
She caught me smiling and her eyebrows creased as she leaned forward and said again, with more emphasis this time, “What?”
That playful smile never left her eyes, it was infectious. My heart skipped a beat, and my smile grew even wider…