Of Shakespeare and Fingers
His fingers looked like they could weave stardust out of empty space. They were the first thing she noticed about him from the other end of the quaint little bookshop, as they softly caressed the spines of old, yellowing books. Unwittingly, she imagined them tracing Latin on her own spine, and hastily covered up the sudden goosebumps on her arms with her muffler.
He was hunched over a dusty shelf, barely managing to fit the whole of his lanky self into the tiny space, yet pulling it off in an oddly beautiful manner.
As he rolled up the sleeves of his worn blue plaid shirt, adjusting his glasses with the back of his hand, she decided that she couldn’t take it a minute longer. She had to talk to him.
So she straightened her crumpled T-shirt, swallowed three times, and got up from her beanbag, tugging on her muffler for luck.
Five and a half steps and she was right behind him.
He whipped around, fingers slipping over a tottering pile of books and looked her right in the eye, the exact second that a massive, heavy-looking tome decided to land on his head.
And he was flat on his bum on the ground.
“Shit, I’m such a klutz,” they mumbled in unison, then chuckled softly.
“Hi, I’m Nisha, and I like harming innocent strangers with large fragments of literature,” she smiled.
“Hi, I’m Veer, and I like getting harmed by beautiful, klutzy strangers with large fragments of literature,” he quipped right back.
“Now I’m positive you have a concussion,” she mock-grimaced, biting her lip to hold a threatening grin back.
“Help me up, will you?” His mouth curled up at the corners as she offered him a hand.
“So I saw you fingering Shakespeare before,” she started.
“Well, someone has a dirty mind,” he smirked, dusting off his pants subtly.
Damn, did he really have to have dimples, too? Talk about unfair.
“I prefer Wordsworth myself,” she continued, as if he hadn’t said anything. As if her stomach wasn’t threatening to regurgitate the two burgers she’d had for lunch.
“Coffee person, aren’t you? I’m getting rather strong vibes,” he mused, tugging at a strand of his illegally messy hair.
“Tea.” It was her turn to smirk at him, and she did so with as much sass she could muster, given her manically thudding traitor of a heart.
“Damn. My coffee radar needs some repairing then. Oh, and did I mention that I make the best cup of tea this side of the English Channel?”
“Aw, now I’m wounded, man.” He pretended to pout miserably, and failed miserably.
“All right, then. I do hope you’re not among the unreasonable people who do not have handy flasks in their houses. I’ll be waiting right here, go on, shoo,” She plopped down onto the nearest chair, grabbing a random book from the omnipresent shelves.
After what felt like the most excruciating minute of her life, she dared to peek out from behind the covers of her book.
His expression was unfathomable.
“Didn’t know you could read upside-down. Teach me when I get back.”
With that, he swiftly turned around on his heels and began to stride out of the shop.
Book falling from her hands, she scrambled towards the doors, almost tripping over the broken flower-pot at the side.
“Wait up, you twat!” she yelled, jogging after him.
“Come on, Dadi! Just one more story, please!” the two bright-eyed children whined, tugging at their grandmother’s favourite yellow saree.
“I’m sleepy, sweethearts, as should you be,” she chuckled at their dramatic pouts, and ruffled their hair. “I have an even better story for tomorrow, promi—”
She was interrupted by a shiny silver flask pouring tea into the waiting cups, held by fingers which still tied her stomach into knots.
“What if I tell you one, kids?” The old man beamed at them, turning around to shoot a quick wink at the old lady as the children burst into delighted laughter.
She wrapped a wrinkly hand around the warm cup and smirked at him, silently daring him to outdo her legendary stories.
He cleared his throat with a flourish, raising a defiant eyebrow at her.
“This, my little roshogollas, is the story of how I met your grandmother.”
His left cheek was sprayed with scorching tea.