Winifred stares at him, from her station behind the computer. He’s wearing a black knit sweater, and is exactly what Winifred thinks she wants, though is in her mind too good for her.
His nose tucked in the thickest of the large pile of books set before him. At the table where the sunlight filters in the dirty window.
He’ll pick three from the pile, check them out, and return next week to pick three more.
And Winifred will be here as always, waiting to scan his library card and stamp the date. And of course the sentences exchanged between them will remain under six syllables.
“Les fleurs c’est pour toi,”
A bright array of white and green appear in her vision. Backing up, there is Price, a questioning grin hiding in his brown eyes.
It was in that moment, with a mess of daisies shoved at her nose, Winifred knew he cared too much.
He asks her to dinner. Says he would like to talk to her about some things. She declines, she already has plans tonight. It’s not a lie.
She meets Claire for dinner. One of those places with nice silverware, where wearing jeans is still appropriate.
“So how was the date with our so-called-stalker friend?” Claire asks once they are seated by the waiter.
“I told you, it was weird. I thought maybe the haunted house was some ploy to get close to me or something, but he didn’t touch me once. Well, not at the house. And the whole time he seemed kind of mesmerized by all the stuff. It was creepy.”
“What do you mean ‘well, not at the house’?” The waiter delivers their waters.
“Well…ugh. After he practically forced me to let him drive me home, he walked me to the door, and well, and he tried to kiss me.”
The apron returns to take their orders.
“Did you kiss him?”
“Of course not! I went inside. But then today he showed up at my work. With flowers. He asked me out again.”
“Are we certain that he is a stalker/serial killer baiting you to a horrible death? Or could he perhaps be a normal, and might I add, not bad looking guy who happens to really like you? I’m just throwing the idea out there.” Claire takes a bite of her salad, keeping her eyes on Winnie.
Winnie scoffs. “Please. We’re talking about me here. And he doesn’t even know me. He followed me out of a bookstore two weeks ago.”
“I think you may be overreacting just a little.”
“The impromptu picture?”
“Honestly? I watched the whole exchange, and I thought it was adorable.”
“But how did he find out where I work?”
“Winnie, there are exactly two libraries in this city. Not rocket science.”
“But he brought me daisies. ‘Les fleurs c’est pour toi’, that’s French. He remembers the books I bought. No one does that in real life.”
“Maybe he’s different.”
“Yeah, different here meaning over-attentive, disturbed, and thirsty for blood.”
Winnie attacks her entrée, face balanced on her fist.
They stew in silence until the dessert comes.
Claire reaches across the table. “Winnie. Just consider the idea, for me, that he may not be trying to kill you.”
They share the chocolate cake.
Outside, the girls hug before parting. Winifred smiles at her shoes as they walk along the pavement.
At the cross walk she looks up. She sees Price. And he sees her too.