The meeting was canceled and the call had come too late – he’d already killed 15 minutes at the rendezvous by then. The rain outside beat a depressing tattoo, reminding him of the fact that he carried no umbrella. Well, at least the café was almost empty. He dug into his backpack and fished out the Vaio. Should have about two hours of battery still on it.
The machine had only three movies – Supersize me, There’s something about Mary, and Before Sunrise. Almost a decade since he’d last watched Before Sunrise but he thought he’d still remember some parts quite vividly. Turning the volume low, he settled in to watch, with yet another cup of hot cappuccino for company.
“Daydream delusion/ Limousine eyelash/ Oh baby with your pretty face/ Drop a tear in my wineglass…” The poem at the 45th minute made him aware of his stiff neck and he looked up from the screen. He saw that the rain had stopped. He clicked Pause and ordered a muffin, in no mood now to break the trance. Amazing how two people could just connect like this, he mused. No backgrounds swapped, no stories told, no questions asked. And suddenly, he found himself missing his girlfriend. He wished she weren’t away on her study trip this week. That he could tangle his fingers in her hair and make slow, passionate love through this sleepy afternoon.
But she wasn’t in town and, unbidden, the thought came to him that, after four years and thousands of hours together, they’d never had this ‘Snap!’ connection with each other. Okay, maybe she had. She always said it was more than coincidence that had brought them together; that they were meant to be.
For his part, he’d never given it a second thought. He had a confused, forgetful, beautiful woman in his life. She filled his home with her noise and her chaos and her loud dance music, and that was enough for him.
He went back to the movie and was distracted again only when a chattering group of five walked in. They took the largest table right behind him, and immediately set to discussing plans for their upcoming trip.
This annoyed him. He knew the café was a public place but he was trying to watch a movie and had been considerate enough to keep the volume low. Besides, hadn’t he been here first? He thought about dirty looks but decided against it. Instead, he increased the volume a little bit, hoping they’d get the hint. “…no delusions, no projections, let’s make tonight great,” said Hawke to Julie Delpy, and he surreptitiously turned around to see whether that had caught their attention.
“What you watching?” the girl in pink addressed him. Tall and with short cropped hair, he’d noticed her as soon as they’d come in. “Before Sunrise. Film,” he said, smiling and attempting to make eye contact with all of them at once.
Two minutes later, he was seated at their table, introductions made and movie resumed. Friendly and completely at ease, they all watched in silence, the occasional crunch of a cookie making the only interruption.
When it was over, the guy who had introduced himself as Mahesh asked: “You know the best thing about this movie?”
“The way she simply decides to hop off the train and go with him,” Aarti jumped in, adding that it was one of her all-time favorite films.
The newcomer to their group had a different opinion but he chose to remain silent, letting his new friends squabble a few minutes.
But the girl in pink – he had forgotten her name as soon as he heard it – had evidently had enough. For she shushed everyone, and before they could argue again, said: “Did you people see the montage of shots at the end? The parts of Vienna that they touched and experienced and lived together? Those places that held their touch but are now empty? That’s what this movie is all about.”
As the table erupted in a fresh round of debate and discussion, the newcomer looked across at the pink girl. She smiled into his eyes before returning her attention to her sandwich.
That connection. It was real. He knew it now; he had felt it at last.