I tumbled towards him, juggling cans of diet coke whilst frantically pressing the "lock" button on my car key, as he was (trying) to come into the shop. "oh, I thought I'd left my car unlocked. But I didn't. Whoops. Sorry!"
A nano-second of eye contact. A glimpse of his bemusement.
Marlboro Lites. Banter with Sri Lankan shop-owner.
Tired. Hair in need of wash. Makeup all but disappeared. Eyes tired and dry.
Almost tumble down steps to car and bleep car open. Throw stuff on passenger seat. Walk round to driver's side and become aware that a man in big car is talking to man in van next to me. So ignore him. His voice gets louder. And he's looking at me.
I hear the words, "have you got a husband or a boyfriend?". It's the man I almost fell into. And he's clearly not talking to the builder in van parked next to me, even if he is listening avidly, along with two other men in the car park.
And I open my mouth. Then shut it again rapidly. For fear that the words in my head will tumble out my mouth. Involuntarily. (My husband is dead.)
Instead I smile kindly. Because I feel sorry for him ... because of the words I have to say ...
"I'm widowed actually. And I've got so much fucking baggage. You really don't want to know me. You don't need me. But thanks. It's a compliment. For me."
And I flash him another smile.
"Fair enough," he replies, but he's maintaining eye contact. "What's your name?"
"Boo. It's Boo."
"I'm Joe by the way."
and I reach through his car window, "pleased to meet you, Joe," and he once again grins with amusement, as I shake his hand.
He has a good handshake. Firm. I hate wet fish or pathetic handshakes.
I don't think and the fucking words start tumbling out my mouth.
"hey you know what, why not. Give me your number and I'll get in touch."
He obviously knows. Knows that I won't. I mean to. At the time I really do mean to. But he knows I won't find the courage. So he convinces me he hasn't got a pen or scrap of paper in his massive vehicle. And I don't even think to get mine from my glovebox. Because I'm planted to the ground. Like a fucking rabbit in headlights.
Then I hear my voice telling him my phone number while he punches into his mobile. "I'll text you, Boo."
"OK, nice to meet you Joe."
And I screech off at my normal breakneck speed, but instead of parking in my drive, I stop at my neighbour's, fly in their door and tell Daniella what's just happened. She's grinning. I'm not. All of a sudden I think I'm going to puke. So I go and stand in their bathroom for a few minutes. For nothing.
Daniella feeds me potato and toast to settle my stomach before I head home to sob.
I don't want some Joe, I want you back Baba. But you know what? If he does text me, I'll go for a drink with him. He looked kind and he's got a sense of humour. It'll do me good.
I should have known some shit was going to happen. That North Star was shining so so brightly. All the way home. You still watching over me? You feel further away now.
I miss you baba.