Dark Eyes

Dark Eyes

Dark eyes made an uplifting connection; or was it an appeal?


Literary fiction


Chris Cantor (Australia)

Dark Eyes
Chris Cantor

Those eyes—dark penetrating orbs with mysterious powers. She sat at a barrel table by the door adjoining the street, but I hadn’t noticed her, until her visual sirens turned my way. Her bronze complexion, black hair and fine facial features were more typical of Andalusia than of Barcelona.
Standing in the rear of the cosy Barcelonan bar, I appeared the only non-local in this retreat from the tourist hordes down at the docks, with its yachts for the mega-rich and restaurants touting for the naïve and unwary. In this back-street haven, locals enjoyed early evening drinks prior to going home to eat, before re-emerging for their evening sorties.
Her dark eyes drew me into a visual embrace as she sat chatting to her friends. Victor Hugo gate crashed my thoughts: “When a woman is talking to you, listen to what she says with her eyes.” She was not talking to me, but I felt as if I could understand her every word to her friends. I took care not to stare, and in feeble Spanish ordered, “Vino tinto, por favour,” to which a young waiter responded with an unintelligible verbal torrent and a friendly laugh. I nodded, before deliberately looking around the other tables in turn, but none of the other drinkers caught my attention as did she.
A small boy, aged about ten, ran in from the street, sidling up to her as she put an arm around him without interrupting her sentence, other than to look down at him with affection. Hugging her, he bided his time and at a suitable break in the adults’ conversation said something to his mother who nodded with a smile, before he ran out to continue his adventures.
I thought of my own children, all three now with families of their own. Their mother, my wife, had been gone for seven years after a brave battle with cancer. Though I missed her I was comfortable being on my own in public. Rather that, than sitting at home or in a hotel room counting the minutes until another bedtime alone.
I was glad I’d found this bar. The dark eyes laughed then smiled radiantly at one of her friends, crinkling up at their outer corners, before performing a pirouette around the room, with the tail end of their dance gracing my direction. I looked down at my glass so as not to rob her of a gesture unintended, though part of me clung to the forlorn hope that she had glanced at me, as if a stranger of my age was of any interest.
As her gaze returned to her friends, I discretely returned mine to her eyes, so dark but shining such light. What stories could they tell? Of love, of passion? Our eyes again briefly met, before respectfully parting as might dancers at the end of a waltz. What did she think of the foreigner, alone in the corner? Perhaps she was being charitable. Oh, to be young again.
Two friends from her table left loudly calling, “Nos vemos más tarde,” the phrase being echoed in return. She blew them kisses from the palm of her hand, then turned my way and blew a final one at me with an accompanying smile. I blushed, returning her smile with more gratitude than she would imagine.
Several minutes later her three remaining friends rose, bade her farewell and left her alone with her tall glass. She discretely looked down, maintaining her dignity. At intervals she volunteered friendly remarks to the waitress or others passing by.
A man slightly older than herself came in, discarding a cigarette that he extinguished with his foot and went over to her, but instead of greeting her he turned to someone at the next table. She stared indifferently at her tall glass. He turned and gestured that they should leave. She appeared to demur, she had not finished her drink, but deaf to her plea he left without hesitation. As a token protest she gulped some of her drink, wiped her lips and set the half-full glass down on the table. She paused, before again looking at me. Her eyes smiled farewell, before her lashes curtsied and the ensemble said, “Thank you kind sir,” and took their leave. In return, I managed a grateful nod with a hint of a smile, embarrassed but thrilled, not wanting to reveal the depths of my emotion.
Now she had gone I could relax, luxuriating in my evening’s adventure, a recrudescence of sensations long past, of a love that once was. Draining my glass, full of cheer and bravado, I called “One for the road,” to my bemused waiter, who gestured to me with the raise of a glass, to which I grinned.
My inner glow continued, when a few minutes later my Goddess with the dark eyes reappeared. Her face remained her own but her eyes were now those of another. Gone was the playful radiance of moments earlier. She fleetingly returned to her former table and picked a scarf up from the stool. She looked straight at me, showering me with a farewell look of connection—a look of loneliness and despair.

Competition: Friendly feedback, Round 1



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