Yesterday, I saw her again.
I left my room to walk to work, got to the end of my street and turned the corner, and there she was, in front of me. Could it really be her? My eyes almost popped out straining to see, but it was her, for sure. But there was something wrong this time. She always reads a book. I've never seen her not reading a book. Every time I have seen her walking along, she is reading a book. That's who she is. She's the woman who walks and reads. The woman I have had a big obsession on for a long time. (God, how I adore her!) But yesterday morning, guess what? She was not reading! She was just walking along, bookless. This was no small thing to me, as you can imagine. This was a really big thing. A very big, disturbing thing. She was supposed to be reading a book, but she wasn't! My world had been instantly turned upside down. It was like walking outside to find the trees blue, the sky green, birds sitting in trees making sounds like car alarms, cars driving along on fire, and everybody walking to work on their hands.
Why was she not reading a book? What could possibly be the reason? Why was she not walking along, reading a book? Why was she walking to work without her head so charmingly buried in one of her beloved historical romances?
As I walked behind her, and a little to the side, I drove myself bananas trying to figure it out. I kept looking at her, her face unobstructed by an enormous paperback. She was looking in front of her, and looking at cars, and shop windows, and other people; she was using her eyes to take in her surroundings, and not the intoxicating dialogue of a gripping historical romantic saga. But every time I looked at her, it was as though my eternal image of her - she, with a massive paperback jammed between her eyes and the street scene around her, that may as well have been a world away - was superimposed on the grim reality, so that in my mind was set up a tormenting battle between memory and reality.
Naturally I wanted to rush up to her, wringing my hands, demanding to know why she was not reading a book. But I didn't, and thank God, because my dramatic surge of wild emotion would no doubt have startled her, and she might have run off, quite alarmed and frightened.
I know I will see her again. And next time, if my wish comes true, she will be restored! Restored, that is, to the walking reading woman I have grown to obsess upon.