The Luxembourg Gardens surrounded 17-year-old Bod in their Old World beauty. Statues mingled with delicate blossoms, whispering of a grander time. Bod could imagine the ghosts of frilly lords and ladies strolling down the paths. He unzipped his beat-up backpack and pulled out a notebook and pen. In intricate copperplate handwriting, he described his surroundings. In his travels, Bod had become quite inclined to writing. The sights of Europe breathed hundreds of stories. Bod loved catching them out of the air or from the lips of locals and channeling them to paper.
He looked up from the notebook to see a couple walking hand-in-hand past the roses. They looked as if they were walking through their own dimension, where it was only them and the heady blossoms. Bod wondered what it was like. Closing his eyes, he imagined it. A certain face appeared in his mind…a voice with a slight brogue…smelling of perfume stolen from her mother's vanity…
Bod shook his head. It was not good to dwell on the past. He had heard tales of unrequited love from regretful ghosts in the graveyard. It was the kind of thing that could drive a person mad. And yet, Bod still felt a bit of longing as he watched the lovers walk away in their little world.
"Ah, the children of the flowers. How careless they seem." An old man wearing a newsboy cap that looked like a pie leaned on a polished cane, smiling knowingly at Bod. "It's amazing what a person can convince themselves of," the man mused, "That their lover is as pure as morning dew, as radiant as Polaris…their minds turn to poetic soup." He chuckled throatily. Bod couldn't help smiling at this eccentric man.
"I…guess I wouldn't know," Bod admitted.
"Ah, but I saw the look on your face. You have your own Diana, your Helen." The man's mockery of poets reminded Bod of Nehemiah Potts, and his neverending verses.
"Perhaps. It was long ago. She doesn't even remember me," Bod said. This man was one of those people you can instantly trust with your secrets. His eyes were a wise gray.
"I see. I know what you're going through, my boy. It is not easy to let go of that first love, it takes much time," he paused to gauge Bod's reaction, "In love, it is best not to hang on to the past. Keep your eyes clear and your heart open, for if you do not, you may miss your opportunity."
Bod dropped his eyes to the seat of the bench. He felt heat trickle into his cheeks. It seemed as if the man's keen gray eyes had pierced straight into his memories. Memories of lovely faces passing him by, faces that had been ignored because Scarlett's image still fogged his perception. Guiltily, Bod looked back at the man, who was smiling slyly, his cheeks crinkled. Bod returned his smile bashfully.
"Good man. Best of luck to you, lad." The mysterious man tipped his cap and walked away, leaning on his mahogany cane. When he was out of sight, Bod returned to his notebook. As he wrote, a warm, flowery breeze kissed his cheeks. He looked up from his work. A girl with long legs in a blue skirt walked across the way. Her dark brown hair blew around her face and swept across a pair of inquisitive green eyes. Bod's head cocked to the side and he smiled crookedly. Quickly, he slipped the notebook back into his bag and casually stood. Once she had turned the corner away from him, Bod stood up and followed surreptitiously, his shy smile lighting up his face.
A couple paths over, the man watched with knowing eyes and a grin.