She took in a deep breath. Her bony shoulders moved upwards and remained raised, a second longer, till she exhaled. She looked around with an aimless distaste.

Whoever said coffee cafes have a rich bitter aroma of ground coffee beans had lied. Her lips pursed a tiny bit closer as the thought flitted through her head. Early in the morning, there would have been a sheen of mocha on those lips. But, defying all the promises made by the cosmetic company, her lips insisted the bare look as early as possible in the day.

“Mira.” A girl with a snake tattoo on her arm, called out as she placed the clear plastic glass on the counter. No point in telling the girl it was ‘Meera‘, not ‘Mira‘. Meera went up to get her glass of passion fruit iced tea lemonade. She was in the mood to experiment.

Today she needed her tea to be exceptionally sweet. The world was dour and sour. Some white in her glass would add some colour. “What’s in a name,” Meera muttered as she tore open the first packet of sugar. Two more packets to go.

A rose would smell just as sweet.

No. The maddeningly handsome guy getting his white ceramic cup of beverage had not completed the dialogue as Shakespeare had intended it. But, it would have been nice if he had said that.

Meera had stared too long.  He met her gaze and gave a breezy nod.

“You have beautiful eyes.”

No. He didn’t say that as he sauntered over to a sunny corner and sat alone on his table. Well, he could have said it.

Meera stirred her drink with a furious purpose. She could look pretty on her good hair days, she figured. But, did anyone ever bother to look at someone’s eyes? She had big black eyes. Lined with kohl they were passable as arresting. She hadn’t managed to perfect the smoky look that everyone seemed to get right these days.

Anyway, no one cared. Everyone had eyes on their cell phones. The old serious man, the fat woman. One guy didn’t have a phone, but he had a kindle. Eyes didn’t have the time to get captivated by eyes.

Wait.. the handsome guy was not on the phone. He was simply drinking his coffee. No phone, ipad, kindle or even person were worthy of his attention.

“It is horribly crowded and there is no free table. Is it okay if I sit here?”

No. She couldn’t ask such a thing because it was a perfectly less crowded day at the cafe. Mid morning frenzy had not kicked in and the morning addicts had gotten their fill. Meera huffed again and went to sit by the open french doors.

Other people looked grand as they sat on the leather armchairs, but Meera was certain she must look funny. Try to  utilise the backrest and you almost topple over or sink in. If not, then you end up huddled at the edge, perched like an uncomfortable bird who had to get used to hanging onto a far from comfortable wire.

How come the hot stranger had no trouble at all in looking great while sitting? Meera stared at his back held straight. An unconscious assurance graced his stance. His grey t-shirt was a bit crumpled. His arms teased with the glimpse of muscle where the fabric ended.

“Shh.. we need to pretend we are lovers. Am undercover in the CIA and desperately need your help.”

No. He didn’t really say that. But, stranger things have come to be, Meera reasoned with considerable optimism. So, a dashing guy having coffee, turning out to be a spy, was a distinct possibility. One had to keep an open mind about these things.

She took a long sip of her iced tea and scrunched her nose. She had no idea why she had ordered this.

His attention was intent on his coffee. Not distracted by his phone. That was promising. So, he clearly wasn’t waiting for anyone.

However, that had not stopped those high heeled females, on the table next to him, from giggling in high pitched unreasonably shrill voices. He was not interested, then why did they need to preen their immaculate nail colour. How come the colour didn’t chip off?

He didn’t care. Oh no! He was not even there. His white cup lay empty and forlorn on the table.

“Look. Can I ask you a question?” 

No. he didn’t say that. Nor did he brush his fingers against her slender bare arm as he strode by. His dark hair was close cropped in the back. A proud neck on a wide set of shoulders.  He tossed the used wooden stirrer into the compost bin and walked out into the sun.

Where did that leave Meera? With a plastic cup full of melting cubes of ice and no fruit of passion.