He said it just like that. No hesitating. No quivering voice. Marry me? His eyes were trying to hold mine still. They were blue.
It’s too late, but thanks, I said feeling pretty self-conscious.
He persisted. I was getting embarrassed. He called me his future wife. I knew it was a joke, but was it? When he asked, have you heard of serendipity? I wasn’t sure of anything.
Let me start from the beginning.
As the days get closer to my leave date, time with friends is increasingly poignant. This morning was no exception. I had coffee with my girlies and afterwards all I wanted to do was go home and crawl under the duvet, but I had to run an errand first so it was off into town for me.
My mood lightened a smidge when I found a free parking space. The gorgeous sunshine Ma Nature blessed us with today was also really nice so the fact that I parked a bit further than normal from my destination was good. I needed the walk. I needed the fresh air.
He wailed. His arms waved wildly and then he clawed at his face. His behaviour was shocking or well, it shocked me. I thought, maybe drugs. I wanted to but couldn’t avoid him. He was smack dab in front of the bank. Still, I managed to sort of sneak past him, and in the door. I didn’t get far before I turned around and looked at him. Blood formed half a dozen lines down his face from his forehead. He was crumbled in a heap now, sobbing. I couldn’t leave him there like that.
Hi. Take this. What’s wrong?
He started to wipe away the blood from those self-inflicted wounds with the tissues I’d handed him. He was still crying quite violently.
They took my bike!! I was only in the bank for a couple of minutes. So unfair. Why? They took my bike!
His clothes were clean apart from mud-caked boots. His jacket and backpack were new-ish, his matching camouflage trousers, well-worn. His fingernails were dirty, but that was all. He didn’t smell like he lived rough, no alcohol or unwashed skin stink.
I stayed on my knees beside him until others came with water and towels. The police were soon there to talk about the stolen bike. An officer called him B. When I got up, the bank manager thanked me for caring for him. I wanted to weep but smiled at her instead, before heading into the bank and over to the cash machine.
As the money was whirring out of the little slot, I glanced to my right. She looked back then away before recognizing me. Loud hellos were shared along with my tale of woe. NO. You cannot go! Where you go? (She speaks in heavily accented Thai.) I laughed a bit and told her.
Marry me. The voice came from behind me. I hadn’t noticed him.
And that’s how it started. We chatted for more than an hour before hugging a goodbye with mutual you’re lovely’s. During that time he talked about his past and how much he risked for the woman he loved once upon a time. Despite the punishment waiting if caught, he went AWOL over and over again, driving hours and hours to spend only a few precious ones with ‘her’.
Their marriage didn’t last but the memory still titillates. It was passion, he said. And love. And, I would do it again.
As I think about his story, I realise I risked it all to be here and do not regret. We are similar in that. I also realise I’d love to have someone willing to risk it all for me. I know, that’s the fairy tale, but how marvellous it must be to experience that depth of feeling. Who knows, maybe I will experience it. Today was pretty special. But tonight, my wish is not for me or my future husband (wink, wink), but for B. I wish him a new bike complete with an easy to carry safety lock. Universe, do you think you can deliver that? Oh, and thank you to B, too. Had it not been for his plight, I would have been long gone and not met a man who believes in serendipity.