Author's note: First of all, thank you so much for the kind reviews, it just made my day. I struggled a lot with this chapter, and not being the most creative person in the world, I'm sorry if it seems kind of slow. But I'm hoping to make some progress in the story very soon. And once again, thank you for taking the time to read this, I really appreciate it! And any kind of constructive criticism is still very welcome.
I've always appreciated the abundant anonymity a city like New York provides you with; blending in is never much of a challenge in a city consisting of 8 million people. However, the consequences of this apathetic mentality rooted deeply in every New Yorker, is a frequent feeling of overwhelming loneliness: Even though you're constantly surrounded by millions of people, finding sincerity and openness in another person is a rare event. And even more seldom is when this person finds you.
Perhaps that is why my usually rational mind got completely paralyzed by the very sight of this Maureen. It wasn't so much her beauty as it was the seductive way in which she performed every movement of her body, her flirtatious smiles that caused my heart to skip a beat every now and then, and her enviable confidence with which she effortlessly spoke to me, that captivated me entirely. What she desired my acquaintance for was beyond my comprehension.
I sent her a nervous grin, trying to appear at least slightly appealing, as we finished our tremendously awkward handshake, which was causing my otherwise freezing hand to moisten noticeably.
"So... Hope you don't mind me asking, but how did you end up here? I mean... on this bench?" The question startled me a bit as I heard the words escape my mouth. "That didn't come out right," I hurriedly stated, giving her an apologetic smile. Apparently, still not being able to initiate even a marginally comprehensive conversation, I observed her expectantly as she tried to suppress a sympathetic chuckle.
"Well, I kind of had a fight with my boyfriend," she explained, rolling her eyes and shook her head lightly at the thought of it. My heart sank a little at the word boyfriend, though I wasn't quite sure why. "And after what he tends to describe as an overly dramatic scene I stormed out of our apartment, and then I didn't really know where else to go." She shrugged, and her gaze fell to the ground for a moment, supposedly absorbed in thoughts of what I'd just been told, before she met my concerned glare, which caused a reaffirming smile to cross her lips.
"I'm sorry about that," I said, deciding that her complete openness towards me was an indicator that I was allowed to urge slightly more exhaustive questions. On this account I hesitantly asked: "What was the fight about?"
"Oh, I hardly even know anymore. There's been so many," she contemplated, seemingly thrilled about my rather obvious curiosity. "We don't even really need a reason to fight anymore. I just think we're too different, him and I, and recently that's become more and more clear to both of us. I mean, I feel really sorry for our roommate, Roger. Having to listen to the two of us every fucking day," she mused, caught up in her own thoughts.
I unsuccessfully tried to stifle a smile, not realizing my failure until she looked up at me and giggled knowingly.
"Sounds like the three of you know how to have fun," I said, profoundly joyful to finally see the conversation making som kind of progress.
"Yeah, we used to be five people living together: Me, Roger, Collins, Benny and then Mark, you know, my boyfriend. But then Benny married this Allison girl whom none of us really liked, and Collins went to MIT to study... some kind of computer age philosophy-thing, I think it was. I don't know, he's the coolest guy in the world, you see, but once he gets started talking about Sartre or Nietzsche, I just shut down." She snickered a little at her own words once she was done talking, creating enough time for me to respond.
"Yeah, I know a few of those people as well. Corporate law compels you to deal with the strangest people sometimes," I replied.
"Wait! You're a lawyer?" She burst out in utter excitement, taking me completey by surprise.
"Well, yeah... why?" I retorted, not making any effort to hide my confusion at her sudden outburst.
"Uhm, no reason. I just... didn't see it coming," she replied quickly once she saw the confounded look on my face. "Uhm, this may seem like a strange question coming from a complete stranger like me, but do you wanna go get a drink or something?"
Once again I found myself completely astounded by her unexpectedly avid behavior. I looked at her with an odd mixture of thrill and disbelief for a few moments, trying somehow to determine her purpose for being so dauntingly straight forward. As I did so, her brilliant smile seemed to fade slightly in order to turn into a ravishingly pleading pout. Not being able to resist her begging, I instinctively knew that I had to at least try to bring back the alluring smile on her face.
"Uhm, sure... You do know that it's..." I hurriedly replied, looking down at the Rolex watch, which my father had insisted upon buying for me for my first trial. "... about 3 pm, right?" I asked, knowing that neither of us probably cared about that slight detail at all.
"Yeah, well, I didn't ask you to go and get completely shitfaced with me within the next half hour," she blissfully stated, instantly sending me the enticing smile I'd desired. Doing so, she almost jumped up from the bench, somehow managing to remain as charmingly captivating in her every movement as she'd been all along, gesturing to me that I should follow her lead.
I got to my feet as a result of her less than subtle implications, carefully looking downwards in order to hide my amusement at her untroubled abruptness. "Well, you never know what kind of crazy, disturbed people wander these grounds. I've seen a lot of weirdos through the years," I teased.
Maureen looked at me, a devious smile on her lips. "And telling me the time is gonna keep me from mugging you down a creepy back alley?"
"Yeah, that and then the fact that I took a two-hour self defense class three years ago," I joked, which allowed me to witness her charmingly lighthearted laugh for the first time.
We stood like that, nailed to the spot, gawkily smiling to one another for a few seconds, until I realised that none of us really knew where to go. "Uhm, so, where do you wanna go?" I asked her, hoping that my embarrasingly inadequate knowledge of nearby suitable places wouldn't be revealed.
"Well, to be honest, most of my preferences probably won't do," she answered. "Why don't we just walk that way and see what we can find?" She suggested, nodding towards the exit of the park, which allowed her vast, dark curls to gracefully jump up and down, bathing playfully in the bright sunlight.
"Sounds like a plan," I said, while I attempted not to stare too obviously at her as we coherently started walking in the same direction.