Outside the station

Outside the station, Anna looks from right to left, like she’s judging which is the right way – while still holding my hand.

There is no right way; as long as I’m with you, any way is the right way. I think, but don’t say.

“Which way? You’re the local here – show me all the fun places.”

I try to smile – you can probably ask me to list all the fun films from the French New Wave and I can give you a dozen right off the top of my head, but to ask me about the fun places to hang out in town will be a horrible, horrible mistake. Seriously, girls – in what way does it look like I know my way around the coolest spots any more than you do?

“I don’t know, really. I don’t go out much.”

“Come on, at least you’ve lived here longer. I’ve only been here few weeks ago, and it’s the first time I came to this area.”

“I don’t know about the left side – I always only hang out on the right side -”

“Alright, right side it is!”

Anna half-dances ahead and looks back at me with a wide smile.

“So, you don’t come here a lot?”

“Not a lot. Only to the cinema further down, mostly.”

“On the right side.”

“Yes, on the right side.”

“And you’ve never ever been to the left side?”

“Never.”

“How long did you say you’ve been staying here for?”

“All my life.”

Anna halts suddenly, and studies my face. Her face is 10 centimeters away from mine, and my heart is beating at 140 times a minute.

“You’re either really weird, or really old.”

“Why?”

“Only really old people like to stick to their old ways. And they never ever venture out. Like my parents.”

“How old are your parents?”

“Yes, sir – you’re definitely weird. A cute weirdo, but still weird.”

“I’m not weird.” I say. It’s the second time she’s calling me cute.

“Yes, you’re. How else can a -”

She squints her eyes and looks at me with suspect.

“By the way, how old are you? You look young.”

“22 this year.”

“Twenty two? Hmm. Two years -” She turns and mumbles.

I study Anna from behind – she has a nice short crop of black hair with long sideburns that complements her sharp features. I am reminded of Jean Seberg in À bout de souffle, one of my favorite female leads after Emmanuelle Riva and Audrey Hepburn. Now that I think about it, maybe I have a thing for girls with short hair?

“Hey, what does the A in front of the numbers mean?”

I look up and see a tram at the stop, whose number plate says A-55.

“I’m not sure, actually. I don’t take the tram much.”

Anna stares at me in mock horror.

“You’re totally weird. You’ve lived here all your life and you haven’t been to the left side of the train station, and you don’t know what the tram number means. What do you know then?”

“That I have a thing for girls with short hair.” I blurt out.

Anna maintains her stare for a bit, before turning round and marching away. Without a word. Surprised, I increase my pace and try to keep up.

After a while of silence, Anna turns.

“You’re quite a flirt, aren’t you. Bet you have a lot of girlfriends.”

“No, I don’t.”

“And do you have one now?”

“One what?”

She glares at me expectantly.

“Right – girlfriend. No, I don’t.”

She turns around again, but continues to speak with her back facing me.

“Why not?”

“I don’t know. You tell me.”

“It’s your life. You tell me.”

“I don’t know. I don’t know much about myself. I’m only 22. Still have a lot to learn. I guess.”

“What’s there to learn? You’re you, and you haven’t changed much since you’re born, have you?”

“Maybe not, but still.”

“Still what?”

“I don’t know.”

Anna turns to face me, looking exasperated. She looks adorable even when she’s annoyed, maybe even more.

“Seriously?”

She turns and walks away in a huff. Girls – one minute they’re like the sunshine warming you from the inside, and in the next they’re like a hurricane that storms and stirs you up.

I run after her and grab her hand – a lovely small hand with thin, fragile fingers.

“Anna -”

She turns and we lock eyes for a split second – and almost spontaneously, we kiss.

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