A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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June 2008, vol 4 no 2

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Ludmila Balabanova


Accidental Meeting

She waits in front of the café at the square and stares at the light of his window. He finishes work at different times—sometimes at 5, sometimes at 8. She cannot sit in the café because from there she can't see the window very well. Sometimes it's cold, sometimes it's raining or snowing. This evening it's warm for the end of February. She waits for the light in the window to disappear. Then she takes the first street to the right. She walks fast for five minutes; after that she turns around and, walking carelessly, goes back. She knows she is going to meet him. She knows that after work he stops at the café of the journalists farther down the same street.

This time he is alone. He seems pleasantly surprised to see her and suggests going for a cup of coffee. She hesitantly accepts, avoiding his look. She studies mathematics and knows about the theory of probability. To meet somebody by chance twice a week is impossible according to all formulas. It's good he is a journalist and hasn't studied probability theory. Two weeks ago she was very sad and she met him accidentally three times—on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. This is completely improbable; not only formulas but experience prove it. In the light summer evenings she never meets him. Last summer she met him only once and he absentmindedly asked her, "Where have you been?"

In the café they are almost never alone. He has a lot of friends, and somebody always sits at their table. Now two men sit and then one more. A conversation begins which she will not remember afterwards. She listens to his voice, breathes the same air with him. He is sometimes in a hurry because one of his children is sick or there is something else. When he got married she was twelve. This evening he is not in a hurry and they stay till later. He walks her to the subway station. He is telling a story. She is sorry she doesn't take a bus. Buses are sometimes late. The subway trains are always on time.

that love
in her eyes

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