"I heard footsteps brushing against the grass and crackling the dry leaves. I looked up and was surprised to see a pretty young woman, all Afro and earrings"
FLASH FICTION - This is my story of Penny, someone I met unexpectedly. On a Wednesday.
Our meeting was extraordinary and it happened on this particularly insignificant Wednesday.
I got to know that Penny is a Capricorn, born in the month of January.
She’s of slim build, rather serious and insecure, something of a dreamer.
She’s let her hair grow into a Mela-Afro perfectly balanced on her head. When she smiles, her dimples smile too on a smooth, copper-brown face.
Her full name is Penelope, but she said she shortened it to Penny because Penelope was too popular a name.
Wow! Penelope a popular name! I didn't know that.
But I should tell you, I have this boyish thing for the name Penelope.
Ever since I laid eyes on the Spanish Hollywood actress Penelope Cruz. The name conjures bliss and heaven.
It's my secret embarrassment.
Penny said she decided to change Penelope to just Penny out of love.
"Thou must love God ...thou must love thyself and ... thou must love thy neighbour ..." she said.
"There were two other girls in my school with the name Penelope.
"So I went to the school administrators and politely requested a name change.
"They agreed and I became Penny. I did it out of love for me and them."
I didn't probe further but suspected it was something to do with her insecurity.
I imagined my boy crush Penelope Cruz being Penny Cruz. It didn’t sound right.
And I wouldn't be who I am now.
In the shade of a tall eucalyptus I sat on a concrete bench, puzzled.
The campus park was well populated. All the other benches were occupied with what looked like tutorial groups.
I observed them and chewed at the lid of my Bic biro. It tasted like plastic.
The crossword was indeed a puzzle.
The previous day I’d got the page with comics, crossword and astrology from my roommate's newspaper.
I told him I needed the puzzle and he obliged.
"Bro, I just need to get my head out of my arse,” I’d said.
“Been going around in circles these past few days working on a political science essay."
"A sad predicament, bro. Hope you find your way,” he’d consoled, tearing out the page and passing it to me.
I sucked on the Bic top and turned my attention to the comic strips.
This distracted me for a few minutes. The humour in the punchlines was dry. Not enough to raise my mood.
I glanced at Sagittarius in the star signs - my birth month reading was hopeful but incomplete and strange.
‘You need room to grow and blossom. You are going to meet someone in a meeting that will be brief and forever.’
I had no idea what this meant.
But at that very moment I heard footsteps brushing against the grass and crackling the dry leaves.
I looked up and was surprised to see a pretty young woman, all Afro and earrings.
"Hi, may I sit on this side. Hope I’m not disturbing or intruding. It's the only bench with free space.”
My brain froze for a split second.
"Ah, of course, for sure, you….. Take a seat."
"Thank you..." She extended a thin, warm hand.
"My name's Penny."