She first noticed him one spring afternoon. Drizzle soaked his light brown curls, pasted his clothing to his torso. Desire leaped within her. How long had it been since someone so young and fit had come into her line of sight? She returned to her tea, steeping in the pot. Pity he moved along so quickly. She might have asked him in for a spell.
For several days, she watched as he passed by. Occasionally the sun lit his face. More often, however, he strode along in mist or rain without a slicker, smiling in spite of it. As time passed, she began to take her tea a little sooner to be sure she could be near the window in the event he happened along a bit early.
At first, she worried he might notice her gawking at him. Soon she began to hope he might see her. She longed to offer what she had. She thought of what he might think, how he might react.
Finally, she plucked up her courage to give him what she had. The first day after her decision, it wouldn’t have made any sense. The sun was shining full force. The next day the rain poured from the sky. Along he came, no slicker, no Wellies, no umbrella. His plimsolls squeaked and slapped along the pavement. She came away from the window and went over to the door, where she poked her head out like a turtle emerging from its shell.
“Hi, Max!” She waved, timidly at first. “On your way home from school?”
He nodded. Rain ran tiny rivulets down his forehead.
“Why don’t you take this umbrella? Maybe you won’t get so wet on your way home tomorrow.”
Her neighbour’s boy nodded, grinning like only a 12-year-old boy can. “Thanks, Mum.”
He ran on across the street to his own flat. She watched. A distant smile brushed her face. If only she had replaced those old fashioned draperies with cream roller blinds earlier. She could have saved Max so many wet walks in the London rain.