Still round the corner there may wait, A new road or a secret gate.
~J. R. R. Tolkien
I turned the corner and gasped as I walked headfirst into a person. The books I was carrying fell to the ground with a loud whack and I saw that the collegiate dictionary, the heaviest of the lot, had fallen directly on the other person’s toes.
I looked up and saw a pair of striking green eyes looking back at me. Mumbling apologies, I bent down and started stacking the books back into a pile. I had started to stand with the pile neatly tucked back in my hands when the beautiful stranger reached out and placed one more small book on the top of the stack.
“Thank you.” I mumbled. “And I’m sorry. I wasn’t paying attention. Completely my fault.”
“It’s all right. I’m sorry too” She said as I looked up into her almond eyes again. “I was also WWD.” Seeing the confusion on my face, she laughed. “It stands for Walking While Distracted. I was trying to be clever.” She held up a smartphone and wiggled it. “This is hazardous to my health.”
I chuckled. I shifted my weight beneath the pile of books, wanting desperately to continue chatting with this stranger, but also quickly losing feeling in my arms.
“May I help you?” She asked, not waiting for an answer and sweeping more than half of the stack into her own arms. “How far are you going?”
“Oh,” I was thrown off for only a moment, “just two blocks that way.” I pointed with my chin. “It’s honestly too kind of you, considering I just ran you over.”
“It’s not a problem. I can go a couple blocks out of my way to help someone with a smile as beautiful as yours.” At the word ‘beautiful’ her cheeks went pink. I could tell she had spoken without thought. I was sure my cheeks were blushing as well.
“Thank you.” My voice was barely above a whisper. I felt the heat rise into my ears and my scalp felt hot.
“Yes, well.” She fell into step with me as I headed toward the brownstone I was currently calling home. She smelled like lavender. I wanted to see her smile again. “I’m Akira.”