Hands, that's what Ernest saw all day long at the library returns counter. Hands pushing, sliding, dropping, tossing books towards him over the granite-topped surface. He rarely looked up at the person, just noticed the hands propelling the books. Scarred knuckles, gnarled joints, achingly smooth skin to leathery weather-worn, night-black to albino-gleam, hairless to furry, manicured secretary's nails to dirt-encrusted gardener's, and then—a slim, tanned hand missing a wedding ring.
That was what led Ernest to look up from his work to behold a lithe young woman, in a sleek azure dress, silk scarf casually thrown over her shoulders, hair the color of wheat, green eyes of deep ocean. She kept her slim-fingered hand on her book a slight moment too long, but long enough for Ernest to see the thin, untanned line where a wedding ring once was.
Time stood still while he looked into her eyes, as if he'd been struck by lightning, electricity buzzing through him, between them.
Then, the woman withdrew her hand; the murmuring sounds of the library returned to Ernest's consciousness. The woman abruptly turned and left the library. Ernest could see her through the window boarding a bus that was just about to leave the stop. In a flash, she was gone.
If it had been a movie, Ernest would have leapt over the returns counter—job be damned—rushed out the door, given chase to the bus until it pulled over, found the woman—who'd be ready and willing when he dropped down onto one knee in the aisle, took her slim hand in his strong book-slinger's hands, and proposed to her in front of forty-some strangers.
Unfortunately, life was not a movie.
Another book was plopped on the counter and shoved towards Ernest, this time by a puffy, sunburned, bug-bitten hand graced with a well-worn gold wedding band.
Ernest didn't look up.
By Penny Dreadful
Actually written by By Barbara DaCosta
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