Rosa. Rosa in the afternoon, sitting in the window with her hair
falling down, hair so pale, so fair, a white waterfall cascading down and
down and he loses himself in it, in this girl sitting in the window,
reading a book with her eyes half-closed and her legs pulled up and the
light behind her so she is only a shape at dusk, in the town library, a
curving shape with white water falling behind.
He opens the door, picks up a book from the cart by the door, a
good book, a big, thick book, and walks a long circle of the small room,
pausing at each compass point instinctively, despite the lack of arrows.
He looks up, he looks down, he looks anywhere but at her, and finally he
happens to be beside her, he happens to sit across an expanse of cushions
in the broad window nook, he happens to be gazing at his book and not at
her, oh no, and he is biting his lip raw. He is biting his lip and
staring at the book and the clock is ticking and she has not looked up.
Five o’clock, six o’clock, seven and perhaps he should speak and
the library closes at eight on Monday summer nights in August of that year
but he has done as much as he is able in walking the room, in coming to
this southwest compass point, in sitting here, where the breeze from the
quiet vent carries with it her slightly musky scent mixed with the dust of
old books. He has done all he can and turns the pages without ever
noticing that the book is in Spanish and talks of un corazon that has
shattered into a thousand pieces.
Seven fifteen. Thirty. Thirty-eight. Forty-seven, and the dry
librarian calls out that it is time to check out books, that the library
is closing, that it is over over over. And he does not move, he has
stopped turning pages, and his lip is bleeding, just a little. Rosa looks
up then, she looks up and smiles and asks, “Cafe?” and when he only
clutches his book harder and stares at her she laughs. “Coffee, then.”
He laughs too, only half-comprehending, but they walk out the narrow white
library doors together, leaving the books forgotten behind.