He wanted to do something. He wanted to say something. He wanted to help in some way, some little but meaningful way. He wanted to be that guy. Instead he was the guy doing his best to not get caught shooting glances her way.
They were two strangers sharing the same small space, shivering outside the gas station while they waited for someone to come pick them up. Of course, they were waiting for different rides. They hadn't shown up together and they weren't going to be leaving together -- but that wasn't his intent. He didn't want her phone number. He didn't even need to know her name. He just wanted to know that for the five minutes that their paths crossed, he was the man she needed him to be.
He turned to her. She glanced at him. They locked eyes. Her eyes were brown -- melted milk chocolate brown with flecks of stubborn, unmelting dark chocolate.
"Um," was all he was able to say before she turned away, and he knew that she had not even heard his "um." He had been drowned out by the baby she was bouncing on her hip. The baby did not like being out of bed this late night and that sporadic, stiff wind wasn't making the little one any happier.
She bounced the baby softly, shushing it and whispering love into its ear. She was a good person, he could tell. She looked sad. She looked like the kind of person who was used to laughing. The wrinkles beside her mouth said she was usually smiling -- or used to be. Maybe it was the cold night air, maybe she was just cold, but she looked like the life had been drained out of her. For a moment he wondered what she used to look like, he wondered if this was just a shell of who she had once been -- and that was an intimidating thought. Because she was gorgeous.
Her make-up was smeared an uneven. Her hair was untidily pulled back. She was wearing a velour track suit. But her cheeks were soft. Her lips were pouty. Her eyes were deep. Even drained of her color, she looked robust and full of life. She was, he decided, what every woman who bought a track suit hoped they looked like in it.
She shivered and he thought about giving her his coat. But then they both stiffened when, across the street, a man came out of the hotel yelling. They couldn't understand what the man was saying, but he wasn't happy. He took a half-step closer to her, hoping to silently convey that there's safety in numbers, and she didn't step away.
That gave him the courage to finally say, "hey."
"Oh good," she said, shifting the baby to her other hip. She stepped out into the parking lot and towards the rattling car that was just pulling up.
A man drove the car, probably the baby's daddy. She handed the driver the baby through the open car window and then opened the door for herself. The driver was complaining about something and she was saying something back to him in a tone that sounded defensive, and then the car door slammed behind her and the car, and its tail lights, disappeared into the night.
And then he was alone with his thoughts and he wondered what opportunity had just passed him by. And then he wondered if there had been any opportunity at all. And then he wondered if he would ever be able to live outside of his head long enough to actually do something, and not just wonder what it would be like to do something.