Just Bella...

"No, it's Bella. Just Bella"

Artcafe! She is on a lone date. A hot mug of single shot vanilla latte is on her left and a piece of black forest cake on her right. Perhaps it is by far the best cake she has ever tasted. The cream between the layers has just the right amount of sugar and is not cold and disgusting. Whoever baked this must have great expertise. The crown on the jewel was that the baking was fresh. I could tell since her order was an exact duplicate of mine. I loved fresh stuff, always warmed the heart.

She is reading a book. At first glance, you would think she was a phone junky like all the young people her age, but she is reading an e-book whose reflection I could see off her glasses. Perhaps the only reason she is reading it off her phone is because a paperback version of the book is unavailable. I want to convince myself that she prefers a physical book. One that she can lick her finger and hear the turning of pages. One that she can hold and cherish and jolt her thoughts down on the sidelines. A book that allowed her to make dog ears on the parts she loved most so she could go back on them. She craved for a physical book. Okay maybe not, but I know I did. Maybe the book is hilarious and that is why once in a while, she smiles revealing her beautifully gaped teeth.

I want to say I know her type but I am not the guru of women and I have been unlucky thus far in matters love but still I know I can guess a thing or two about her. From the way she darts her eyes around the room, I can tell she has been hurt. She trusts no one. Deep down I know she would have loved to have a gentleman sitting across from her whispering sweet nothings. Maybe she is waiting for that gentleman to arrive but by the thoughts scattered in my mind, I can tell the boy is of no means and probably a struggling university student on his 3rd or 4th Helb loan. But I wouldn't know.

Just as I am about to pay my bill and leave, her phone rings and the way her face lights up draws me to her. It is very intriguing how the name on her caller id makes her that happy. I ask for a second cup of coffee.

She is talking on her phone and gradually her expression changes. The sweet smile fades and a grave look takes over. I do not know why but my heart sinks. Here is a stranger I have been looking at for a record of seven minutes but somehow her sadness affects me. I cannot explain it because she is not what you would label overly beautiful. Her braids are worn out and she has tied them in a loose knot at the back of her head leaving two cascading on her left cheek. Her skin is dark and her eyebrows are sparse. She is squinting at her phone through her glasses in the most unattractive of ways but I cannot stop staring. Her smile is captivating what with the gap and all. So I am still making up my mind as to whether she is beautiful or not.

She puts her phone down and looks up. I feel like a kid caught with their hands in a cookie jar as our eyes meet. Feeling somewhat embarrassed and helpless, I smile and wave. Just a tiny wave to cover up the embarrassment. She smiles and waves back. After that it is like my body takes control over my mind.

Soon I am sitting across her clutching my coffee and trying to remain calm. She is so perfect up close amid all her visible imperfections.

"Hey, I am Trevor, you are?"

"Hi Trevor, I am Bella." She says with a straight face.

Much as she makes my heart flutter, she scares me. I am tending to think all my previous assumptions of her are totally wrong and that just increases my attraction towards her. Most girls I approach are usually giggly and annoying and so excited at the prospect of talking to a white guy that my initial attraction fades away. But not Bella.

"So Isabella..."

"No, it's Bella. Just Bella"

With an out of this world sophistication, she stands up, puts a piece of paper on the table alongside a 500 shilling note on top of her bill and leaves. After a minute of being dumbfounded, she is long gone. Just Bella is gone. I casually glance at the piece of paper and a phone number is scribbled on it. However the last two numbers are washed off probably by water or perfume or sanitizer or such other liquid. I have eight numbers, eight numbers with a hundred possibilities. I want to throw the paper away and forget about Just Bella but I cannot. Yes, she was that special. With a sad sigh, I take out my phone and begin to dial finishing off with 00. This will definitely take a while.


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