He sees her first, and afterwards he sees her eyes avoid him. She is young (they usually are), a little stupid, and wary as hell. He is a fine man but looks suspicious, and she has been taught to avoid people like that. She keeps her eyes trained forward mostly, but for a brief moment, they slip slightly and the two make eye contact. It is only a split second—she can tell he has caught her looking, and hurries past where he sits on the low wall, takes the stairs up to where the chairs and grass and picnic tables are.
Fortunately, one split second is all he needs. He now closes his eyes, leaning back a little as he wraps her mind around himself like a cloak, or a neatly pressed sweater, torn freshly from its packaging.
It is a hot day, and she has come here mostly carefree, a takeout sandwich from the kosher deli in a paper bag and a Terry Pratchett novel in her purse. It is cloudy and grey out, and hot; a thick, heavy heat that she can feel surrounding and pressing in on her. It is everyone’s least favorite weather, which is exactly why it’s her favorite. No one comes out these days—they’d prefer to stay indoors, with the AC turned high, wishing it was sunny or less hot. It is the weather of young, burgeoning storms, still developing and growing in the womb of the atmosphere. The heat is almost, but not quite, oppressive, the humidity high, and flowers are blooming, big fat white ones that the gardener sowed however long ago, spilling their heavy scent to the world.
She was not planning to come here originally—she wanted to eat inside the deli, where it is cool, but she didn’t like the way the old man in the back corner looked at her as she was ordering her turkey-and-swiss, and so after paying she absconded directly, now seeking a new place to set up camp. She considered the benches nearby, but they are too open air, a place where people may come by. She instead chose the field with its many chairs turned away from the street, devoid of people because the day is not suitable for picnics.
He can feel how nervous he made her, but she forgets him straight away as soon as she unwraps her sandwich and opens her book to where a worn ticket stub to an old, mildly successful romcom is nestled. She settles back, kicking off her flipflops and curling her legs under her, doing her best not to drip honey mustard onto the book, which she got from the library a few days ago.
It is only June, but she has steeped in summer long enough to be used to the carefree luxury of the open days, and that means her guard is down.
He turns her life over in his mind, considering it carefully, weighing it.
When she returns, sometime later, she takes a new path, ignoring the sidewalk that leads to the stairs and the ledge where he lies and opting instead to go through a small patch of trees, her feet brushing past chunks of crumbling bread left long ago for the birds. It is the path that takes her furthest from him, and he watches her go, noticing the neatly folded but nowhere near empty bag, the purse with its zipper just a little undone, the way her stomach now protrudes just enough to cause the already small tank top to ride up a little bit, revealing the smallest area of skin between the hem of the shirt and the top of the shorts, which are barely clinging on to her hips. On anyone else that bit of sandwich—because he knows she did not finish it, nor did she even make much of a dent in it—would not have mattered, but on her skinny form it is like a pregnancy, and she is starkly aware of it, sucks in her stomach and straightens her back once she remembers to.
He raises a hand to his forehead, a pain growing there like a small, wriggling seed.
For a moment, she hovers at the crosswalk, ripe, trembling, like a fruit ready to be picked, a coin balanced precariously on a precipice, then steps out.
Officials afterward would not understand exactly what happened, but would consider it a case of mutual negligence—the girl was not paying attention, nor was the man in the SUV. Later he would describe a fog that clouded his mind momentarily, but had seemed (to him, at least) not much trouble. But when it lifted she was in front of him, and it was already too late to do anything but press forth. She had looked at him, he said, and time had seemed to slow around them until, very suddenly, her eyes cleared and she suddenly was looking right through him, her gaze piercing like a clear blue spear right into the very center of him. In that moment, he said, she was everything. But then, of course, it was too late. It would flee her eyes as fast as life when the car finally greeted the body.
Now the man in the SUV gets out and screams, and suddenly everywhere there are people, and police cars, and lights and action as the curious wine red spreads across the street.
Unmoved, the blue eyed man hops from the wall and resolves to purchase a sorbet from the store down the street. The flavor today is ambiguously pink, like fresh meat, and he enjoys it immensely.