The words over at Three Word Wednesday are clutch, delight, happy.
The sun is warming and it chokes the autumn breeze into temporary submission that allows people to throw off their coats and sweaters, their cashmere scarves.
Workers escape their office confines and cubicles, flee to open park benches to sun themselves.
There’s a couple reading to one another from a battered paperback. They sit close, sharing sips of coffee from a tall, stainless steel mug they set between them on the concrete.
She’s all serious focus during her turns. Clutching the book with both hands, she squints at the type, speaks clearly, yet cautiously.
Dressed in layers of blacks and grays, ripped jeans and knee-length boots, she’s compact in her posture. One leg over the other, her shoulders droop slightly.
There’s a confidence about him, part of the age difference, and he listens intently, eyes closed, an arm rests across the bench, his hand positioned on her shoulder.
As she reads, she brushes stray locks of hair, shiny and black, away from her glasses.
He wears a battered olive-green baseball cap three-quarters backward that covers the short-cropped hair graying at his temples. His chinos are worn, frayed at the cuffs. His dress shirt is equally worn and he wears it untucked, the sleeves rolled to his elbows. He throws his left knee over his right, opposite of how she sits.
The book is written in French and he stops her from time-to-time to correct her pronunciation, or to clarify a passage. At these times she bites her lower lip until it goes white. The gesture secretly makes him happy. A feeling that she’s totally his, in that precise moment.
Surrendering the book, she takes a long sip of coffee, readjusts herself. She leans into him as he reads, crossing her arms, idly rubbing her upper arm.
Adjusting his glasses, he holds the book in one hand, his thumb between the pages, four fingers across the spine. His other arm rests across her back and as he reads, makes and O with his thumb and index finger while the remaining three digits fan the air like a conductor giving direction to the orchestra.
The moment is broken when a young man in a Navy pea coat and black wool slacks walks up, mobile phone to his ear. She stands suddenly, nearly knocking the book away, and tosses her arms across the boy’s shoulders. He moves the phone from one ear to the other, lightly kisses her cheek in the process.
There is delight in her eyes as she rushes to pack up her backpack, and chatters excitedly with her suitor with animated hands.
Adjusting his cap, he places a leather bookmark into the book, sets it on his lap, screws a smile onto his face.
The boy extends a hand, still talking into the mobile, and the man stands, grabs it, pumps once, twice, and lets go.
The book tumbles to the ground. She rescues it, slips it into her pack, and follows her young man, who is moving through the crowd, putting up distance.
She turns, blows the man a kiss, waves.
He sits, draws his own pack to him, stops.
And rubs his hands across his chinos with speed and friction, looking around to see if anyone comprehends his frustration, humiliation.