The first time he saw her, she was standing outside his apartment. Not *his* apartment. Outside the building, which happened to contain an apartment in which he lived. Public sidewalk, free country, that thing. She had sunglasses on. Waiting for someone, possibly.
The second time he saw her, she was standing in front of the window of the laundromat down the block, looking out the window, seemingly at nothing. He guessed she was probably doing laundry. Although she might not have been. She could have gone inside to get change, for instance. Or to look at a flyer. Maybe she was hiding from someone. The real reasons people do what they do are continually amazing. Especially if you look at the small details. Not just why in a laundromat, but why *now*. An endless series of small decisions in local circumstances that put you in a place you'd have never expected.
Sometimes when he thought about it, he pictured one of the wet mossy fields in the high country of Tasmania that he had gone hiking through some years ago. (Explain that.) On one side of the field, there would be a stream flowing in. On the other side, you could see a stream flowing out. But in between, it was all water flowing over and under and around rocks and big clumps of moss - or was it algae? it was a single organism, whatever it was, he remembered that. You weren't supposed to step on them. So you stepped in the water a lot. Big green and orange and purple clumps among steel colored puddles reflecting the steel colored sky. From a long way away, maybe, a stream. Up close, lots of puddles. That's how things happen.
The third time he saw her, she was with some guy in the pizza place on the corner across the street. The guy had a mini pizza. She had a calzone, and that face. She kept having that face. Long thick dark eyebrows. Straight nose. Lightly olive skin. Wide mouth. The jaw - hard to say. Not squarish, not roundish. Angular, maybe. Eyes, dark green eyes. Why was this face in his neighborhood now?
The fourth time he saw her, she was outside of the building again. Not his building. The building he lived in. Difference. He was late and he could see past her that the bus he needed was just pulling away from the stop up the street. She had on a loose sleeveless dress down to just below the knees, and boots. The dress had some god awful orange print. He didn't care. It could have been covered with a hieroglyphic translation of the Preamble to the Constitution. Her arms had the same even color. Big hands, strong looking. Three rings, one on right, two on left. Silver. Her skin looked soft. Long neck. Long arms. Long fingers. He cursed the bus. She looked up.
The fifth time he saw her, he was crossing the street. He had been impatient and crossed against the light, and was waiting on the center divider for the other lane to clear. She drove by in a white Rambler. She didn't drive, really, she was in the passenger seat. Some guy was driving. It looked like the mini pizza guy. This was a brief encounter.
Now he is eating far too many calzones than is healthy for either his stomach or his bank account. He has taken to doing laundry every other day. If an entire basketball team were to find themselves stranded and naked in his apartment, none would need go without socks, t shirts or underwear. Pants would be a problem. He never knew there was such another world on the other side of the street. So many things to see and do. He crosses the street so often, he is familiar to the drivers of the bus that he does not need (as opposed to the other one), and they toot their horns at him. He waves.
He is not waiting, though, for the sixth time. He would tell you that he is not. He is fishing without a lure. He is fielding serves without a racket. He is expecting the unexpected. He is puddle jumping. He is waiting for the first time. The first time of something else.