As we sit in silence, ensconced in the dusk of the cafe, I study her face and inspect her irregular features that combine to give an unforgettable effect of simultaneous strength and femininity. The fortitude that she now exudes from her every pore, that flames in her eyes, that comes out in gasps with her every breath seems almost incompatible with the sorrow that she allowed me to glimpse just minutes before. The tears rolling down her face seemed to burn her with shame that was deeper still than her woe, and so I watched her efforts to redirect the flow inwards. Now, looking exhausted with the monumental trial, she's toying with her coffee cup, the fire of resolve burning in her luminous eyes.
I see traces of pain in her swollen eyes that sparkle with determination nonetheless. Their expression is aberrant, unsuitable for the church-like gloom, resulting from the stained glass windows of the cafe. It's as if she's conjuring up all her emotional resources to spur an army to repel the invading vandals. She is a modern Maid of Orleans: her beauty stemming from the strength her convictions.
I try to read the encrypted messages that dart across the eyes of this sphinx, obstructed by fringes of lashes. The harder I try, the deeper she just seems to draw me into the mysterious realm of her thoughts, leaving me no less puzzled however. This excites me more than it frustrates me, and I'm surprised at my sudden awareness of how bored I have managed to become of the one-dimensional women that call me "baby" nightly.
Maybe her allure is in her mystery, in the fact that no matter how many facts of her life are revealed to me, no matter how many layers of her protective armor are stripped off, there always seems to hide an unexplored depth beneath it. And just like every other man, I want to be a pioneer, I want to be the first and the only one she has ever let so deep inside her. I want to be the first one to obtain the keys to the shrouded chasms of her emotional virginity. And the occasional glimpses of what hides so deep inside only keep me coming back for more, dialing her digits after I tell her I've had enough of her games, driving past her house, convincing myself that it really is on the way, feeling that revolting stinging in my gut.
I feel myself getting carried away just watching her curled up on the low bench, her pale face in stark contrast to the black velvet draping on the wall, hair in her face, drinking her coffee with abandon. Trying to extricate myself from the grasp of her spells I remind myself that the delight I feel when basking in her presence leaves a bitter aftertaste when she's gone and I'm left alone to ponder the pathetic reality of this rather one-sided affair. And as I watch her work her magic on the cup of coffee I endeavor to divest her of her Vestal virgin garb. Maybe the femme fatale thing is just an act, and I'm the one assigning her these occult powers that she is not actually blessed with. Maybe she's a goddess created by her own worshipper. And maybe she's no different than all the girls seeking solace between my sheets with their legs wrapped tight around me. This thought leads to another and another, and soon enough my mission has failed, and she's no less divine than she was in my earlier thoughts, but now I'm committing the sacrilege of imagining a handful of her hair in my moist palm and her back dripping with sweat and arching with pleasure.
I'm feeling weak, drowning in the sorcery of her aura. My reflection in the cloudy mirror on the wall is the antithesis of her set jaw and the hard look in her eyes, of her indomitability in the face of tribulations. I finger the cold piece of metal in my pocket in hopes that it will infuse me with the determination that I need and inhale sharply. I hand in my resignation from the position of her guardian angel. I go down on one knee at her feet on the scummy floor of this church-like cafe and pull out the ring. It's now or never.
She looks up with perplexity from her coffee cup.