If only Part II.

Hi everyone,

here’s the conclusion of my story as I promised yesterday. Enjoy.



A pair of tourists obstructed Marie’s view and pulled her back to reality. She shook her head and smiled. ‘What a fool you are,’ she thought and set off. Her thoughts went back to the boy’s face; so young, lively and handsome. She envied him the sparks she has noticed in his eyes when he tried to entice her with food. Marie recalled the way the corners of his mouth lifted up and uncovered his white teeth. The mess of his hair obstructing his eyes a little, the way he brushed a loose strand away from his face. She remembered how his hands had looked, thick blue veins running over bones. Without a coat, he wore only a grey long sleeved thermal shirt. She thought how cold he must have been.

Marie felt a forgotten pull in her stomach; a sensation she thought she would never feel again. Her mind raced back and forth, one thought fighting off the other. She realised the attraction towards this young man, granting her a little interest. Such an irrational thought ran through her head and she shivered. The thought of the boy being interested in her, surprised her just as much as the way her body responded to him. She stopped in her tracks, shocked by the discovery and the fact she even entertained the possibility.

Where’s Celine when I need her most?’ Marie rummaged in her handbag feeling for the phone. She pulled out a battered Nokia with scratched display and pressed speed dial. Marie growled when there was no answer, even after the tenth ring and shoved the phone into her pocket in the hope Celine would notice a missed call.

She had to do something to distract her mind and forget about the thoughts she had in order to stay sane. She bought a cup of watered down mulled wine. Warming her insides, the remaining alcohol crawled through her veins. She rolled the liquid on her tongue, keeping it inside her mouth for longer than usual, just to enjoy the taste of cinnamon and orange. The sweetness lingered long enough to calm her senses and feed the hunger she felt. Her feet gave in and forced her to sit down on a bench. Surrounded by strangers passing her by as if she didn’t exist, she felt the pang of loneliness in her stomach, and her heart ached beyond recognition, regardless how much she tried to stay oblivious to this feeling.

Surrendering to her thoughts Marie got to her feet again and let them take her back to where the boy had smiled at her. As she pushed through the crowds, she felt her pulse racing in anticipation. She smiled as she approached the corner where she could stay unnoticed and watch the boy’s face. Her muscles softened as soon as she laid her eyes on him, shivering, rubbing his hands and breathing out the warm air from his lungs onto his frozen fingers. He stood behind the counter chatting to his colleague she hadn’t noticed the first time. She took a few steps closer, unconsciously biting the edge of the polystyrene cup holding the remainder of her now cooled drink. The boy laughed at something he heard and looked around. She liked the dimples she saw. She liked the sound of his voice, too. Marie’s feet were freezing as she progressed forward.

Now or never,’ she thought and with her chin up she set off and closed the distance between them.  Hands trembling, she wiped her palms on her jeans. The intensity of her stare would burn a hole in a curtain. She watched the boy, now calm as if in deep thoughts. She stopped, only meters away from the counter. Unexpected panic struck her and Marie spun on her heels to run away.

‘Hey! Are you OK?’ she heard his voice and halted, breathing heavily. ‘Are you OK?’

Marie slowly turned around, her shoulders hunched, as if she bore the weight of the whole world at that moment. She lifted her eyes and met his concerned face.

Oh, for God’s sake woman. You’re ridiculous,’ she thought and moved towards him with a resigned sigh.

‘Hi,’ he smiled as she reached the counter and skimmed the menu. ‘You look a bit lost, Miss?’ the boy hesitated, ‘Sorry, I don’t wanna be rude.’

‘It’s OK,’ Marie said and managed a smile. ’You’re right. I’m Miss.’ Still.

‘So,’ he said, looking at her as if assessing what he could say, ‘anything I can help you with? You’re hungry? I’m sure you know by now all’s for four quid,’ he said and laughed.

‘Well, I…I’m…’ Marie stammered, avoiding his curious eyes, ‘I’m sorry. I don’t know why I’m here. I’m not hungry, really,’ she said feeling her stomach rumbling.

He kept looking at her, smile on his face. She blinked and begun laughing. Marie recognized the situation she got herself into. He laughed with her, ignoring a couple of tourists standing next to her.

‘So, can I offer you something else then?’

‘Like what?’

‘I don’t know,’ he shrugged his shoulders and looked like a little boy. ‘You tell me.’

Marie’s cheeks filled with blood as she searched her brain for the answer. She smiled when the thought struck her. She could get out of this situation easily. She took of the scarf she bought an hour ago and handed it over to the boy. He looked at her, puzzled expression clouding his face. He raised left brow in a silent question.

‘Well, I thought you might need this. You’re cold.’ Marie stood there, looking into his brown eyes with her arm stretched, offering a gift to a stranger.


‘Take it. I don’t need it.’

‘Did you just buy it today? I’m sure you didn’t wear it when I saw you first.’

‘How…’ she trailed off.

The boy smiled at her and took the scarf. He put it to his nose and sniffed.

‘Definitely new,’ he said, ‘otherwise I would smell your perfume.’

She swallowed a lump, feeling her cheeks burning. She waved her hand, thinking of what she could say.

‘Oh my God. Where have you been? I’ve been looking for you everywhere. And where’s your phone? Honestly, you need to buy a new one so I can track you down, woman,’ Celine’s voice rang in her ears. Marie turned around, happy to be rescued and sad she got distracted.

‘I called you.’

‘Yeah, once. Anyway, you wanna eat? Let’s go somewhere warm. I don’t fancy eating standing up, do you?’

‘I don’t mind, really,’ Marie said and looked at the boy. ‘I’m sorry, thanks for everything.’

‘What for? I haven’t done anything,’ the boy wondered and waited for explanation.

‘You have, trust me,’ she smiled, took Celine’s arm and dragged her away from the stall and the handsome boy.

‘Hey! What about the scarf? Come back next week. I’m here every Saturday. Come back for it. Will you?’ She heard him shouting over the voices of hundreds of visitors.

She turned around, hanging onto her friend’s arm. ‘Maybe I will,’ she said and gave him one last smile as he waved.

‘Wow. What was that all about? He could be your son,’ Celine raised her eyebrows being pulled away by Marie’s firm grip. ‘I leave you for a while and look at you,’ she pinched her. ‘Maybe I should do it more often.’

‘Don’t be ridiculous. He was cold and I felt sorry for him. That’s all,’ Marie lied and couldn’t look at her friend.

‘Yeah, right. You tell that to someone else, dear. I know you too well. Are you coming back next weekend then?’


‘You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to. But let me tell you one thing. At least you know you’re not dead, honey,’ Celine winked and gave her a kiss on a cheek.

As they were leaving the market, Marie listened to Celine’s rumbling about the clothes she bought and could have bought. But at the back of her mind the boy’s face was smiling at her and warming her soul. She even entertained the thought of coming back next week. If only.


~ by Niina Erin on April 7, 2013.

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