His eyes peered through the trees adjacent his apartment block. He was now standing on the balcony, lost in thought. He had been trying to paint her face for hours now. A beautiful face he only saw once at a café and it captivated him to no end.
He remembers staring across two tables and thinking to himself, my goodness, that girl is too pretty. I wonder what her name is. Then he realized he had been stirring sugar in his cappuccino too long it had gone cold.
“Could you please warm my cup?” He asked Catherine. The waiter took the cup and came back a few minutes later to find him staring at the girl. She noticed and smiled.
“Don’t let it get cold again, okay?” she teased. “She’s new here if you are wondering.”
“Yes, the girl is new here.”
“Haha. You noticed! Is it that obvious, my staring?” he asked.
“Yes. It is.”
Catherine walked away to take a different order. Kevin had visited the café too many times that they had become good friends. She always reserved his favourite seat. He always left her a tip. Occasionally she would ask him, “What are you currently painting?”
His answer was always the same, “Something beautiful.”
But, as he stood on the balcony trying to imagine her face (the girl from the café), he realized how much he needed to see her again. Just then, the doorbell rang.
He snapped out of his thoughts, walked past the kitchen and living room to get the door. When he opened it, he couldn’t believe his eyes….wait…what?
The girl from the café was standing right in front of him. Almost like a magical moment.
“Uhm, he-e-e-y.” then he cleared his throat.
“Sorry to bother you, I’m new here, just moved in. Would you by any chance have pliers? I need to fix something the movers messed up.” The girl said.
“Uhm, ye-e-e-s. I think I have one.” His eyes shot at the apartment next to his to confirm that indeed this was true and he was not in one of his daydreams. Being a professional painter, he always considered daydreaming his occupational hazard.
He walked away from her, leaving his door open. As he fetched his toolbox, he felt stupid for not inviting her in to take a seat and wait. Uhm, damn it. Keep it together, Kevin.
He came back with the pliers and handed it to her. Then, he heard himself ask her, “You are not going to fix it yourself with those pretty hands, are you?”
She gave him a quizzical stare for a second as if to decide whether it was a kind offer to help or a flirting undertone.
“I could help…” He added nervously.
“Oh, thanks. But I have someone to do that.” She said.
Just then, a masculine figure walked out of her apartment door and waved to Kevin in a friendly way.
“I found one,” the girl said as she walked towards the waving Hercules.
Kevin closed the door behind him and sat at his favourite spot on the couch to think. How is this happening? Is this a sign or something? What if all this is God, Cupid, and the Universe coming together to get me a girl? It’s actually two days to Valentine’s Day man!
He entertained his thoughts too long snacking on some groundnuts on a sauce plate placed on the coffee table. He now had a full picture of what he initially intended to paint – that melanin face of a beautiful stranger turned next-door neighbour.
Who was that with her? He thought. A boyfriend maybe?
There was another knock at the door. It was the girl returning the pliers.
“Thank you. It was really helpful.” She said. “I’m Tasha.”
“You’re welcome. I’m Kevin. You can call me Kev.” (He could hear his eyes rolling). “Karibu sana to the block.”
“I know it’s hard moving house stuff. Can I be the first friendly neighbour to share my dinner with you guys tonight?”
“Aaaaw, that’s kind of you, Kevin. Thanks, but my brother already ordered pizza from Dominos. Maybe sometime this week?”
“Cool. Whenever you are ready. Just don’t play the music louder than I do, okay?” He smiled.
“Haha, very funny. Thanks again.” She started walking to her apartment then said, “Oh, he’s Mike by the way – my brother’s name.”
“I’ll try not to mix up your names.”
They both laughed as they closed the doors.
Something about her made his heart spark. Almost like a muse. He was finally polishing up on her painting. Wondering how to tell Tasha about it without coming across as the weirdest neighbour alive.
Two days passed and Valentines kicked in. He was in the kitchen frying some chicken drumsticks. The doorbell rang. He paused his chef skills and went over to open it.
“Hey. Any plans for Valentines. Hope it’s not a bad day for a lady to claim her dinner. Is it?”
“Haha. Come on in.”
She walked in then stopped abruptly.
“Wow, did you do this?” She asked in amazement.
Kevin had brought the finished painting from his home studio and placed it on the couch.
“Oh, yeah. I painted it.” He said.
“It looks gorgeous.” She gasped touching it. Her eyes filled with admiration at his work.
“It does? I think it looks like you.” He said.
They stared at each other for a while. A soft silence filling the air. Then she said, “You have some flour on your cheeks,” reaching out to wipe it.
“Oh, thanks.” He was blushing now.
Unknown to him, this was the first Valentines among many other he would spend with Tasha.
To think that it all started with a painting. A beautiful image of the girl next door etched in his mind.
Now, he was in love.
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Cover photo: Courtesy