An Unexpected Date
I once had an unexpected date in Madrid. It started when I got to Barajas Airport six hours before my friends did. It was a long time to wait, so I decided to check out the city. Thankfully, they had a facility where I could store my luggage. After running my bags through an x-ray machine, I bought a token and found an empty locker. Next to me stood a tall, thin brunette struggling with a lock.
“Here,” I said to her. “You need to put your token in first, and then press the button.”
“Thank you,” she said, with a slight foreign accent. She smiled at me with her big green eyes, running her fingers through her shoulder-length hair.
“You’re welcome,” I said, as I started to naïvely walk away. Then without even thinking about it, I turned back and said, “Oh, by the way, my name is Steve.”
“It’s very nice to meet you, Steve,” she said with a smile. “My name is Franka.”
“Nice to meet you, Franka,” I said, doing my best to hide my nervousness. “So, uh, how long are you staying in Madrid?”
“Just a few hours,” she said. “I thought I’d put my luggage here and explore the city for a few hours. How about you?”
“I just got here. I got about six hours before my friends get here, so I figured I’d kill some time in the city.”
“Yeah. I want to find something interesting to do for a few hours.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I have no idea. I’ve been in Europe for less than an hour. I have no idea where anything is.”
“Well, let’s find something.”
We left the storage facility and walked over to the subway station on the other side of the airport. After a couple of transfers, we arrived in the Plaza del Sol, right in the heart of he city. It was my first time in Europe and my senses were overwhelmed. Thankfully, Franka was a little more familiar with the landscape. She led the way through narrow streets, to a small Spanish café. We got two coffees and started talking in earnest.
“Where are you from?” she asked.
“East Lansing, Michigan.”
“I have not heard of this.” she said, moving a little closer to me.
“It’s about a hundred miles west of Detroit – a hundred and sixty kilometers. How about you?”
“I’m from Croatia. Have you heard of it?”
“Of course. Part of the former Yugoslavia, though I admit that’s about all I know about it.”
“That’s okay,” she said. “That’s more than some people know.”
Just then a man came over to our table and set down a cheap plastic souvenir lighter. At first I thought that he was going to join us, but instead kept walking around the café terrace, placing lighters everywhere he went.
I looked at Franka with a puzzled look on my face.
“Don’t touch it,” she whispered.
“Why? What happens if I do?”
“If you touch it, he will ask you to buy it. Just ignore him,” she said, touching my arm.
I stared deeply into her big green eyes. “So is this kind of thing pretty common here?”
“It is,” she said, “but do not worry. He is leaving already.” Breaking eye contact I saw that the man had already picked up the lighter and moved on.
“That was weird,” I said.
“You are in a foreign country for the first time. Many things will seem weird to you.”
As we finished our coffee, I looked into her eyes and smiled, holding eye contact half a second longer than was comfortable. She looked away from me and looked back deep into my eyes. “Thanks for a lovely time, Steve. I should get going, though.”
“Now, Franka? Can’t you stay another half-hour?”
“I can’t. Sorry, but I’ve got a plane to catch. I got family waiting to pick me up back home, and I don’t want to disappoint them.”
“I understand,” I said as we got up from the table. “So what now?”
“I don’t know. What now?”
“I wish I knew. I’d give you my phone number, but I don’t have a phone in Europe. I suppose I could give you my email address, but email is so cold and impersonal.”
“Only as cold and impersonal as you make it. I’ll give you mine, too.”
We exchanged information and walked to the entrance to the subway station.
“I can find my way back from here,” she said. “I hope you enjoy your time in Spain.”
“I’m sure I will, although I’d have a lot more fun if you didn’t have to go so soon.”
“I cannot help it, Steve. Keep in touch, okay?”
I leaned over to kiss her on the cheek, but to my pleasant surprise, I met her lips instead.
“Goodbye,” she said, heading down into the depths of the Metro.
As she disappeared underground, I stood still on the streets of Madrid, temporarily alone in a foreign country. My unexpected date had ended as quickly as it had begun.
Have you ever met a stranger with whom you click instantly, only to never see them again? Let me know your story in the comment section.