An A to Z for Birmingham fell out of her rucksack and landed on the pavement in front of me.
Being a helpful sort of person, naturally I bent down, picked it up, and handed it back to her.
Coincidentally I couldn’t help thinking she did look kind of attractive, in a kooky sort of way.
‘Don’t mention it,’ I said to her after she thanked me for being so considerate.
‘Easy enough to find your way around anywhere if you know where you’re going,’ I added.
‘Funnily enough, I’d see that as true by definition, but I have no idea where to go,’ she replied.
Green eyes, long red hair and freckles; a green dress: I was smitten, but rather tongue-tied.
‘How about going to Hockley to look around the Jewellery Quarter?’ she suggested.
I decided to treat her ambiguously worded question as a clear invitation to join her.
Just about enough time to catch the tram about to leave Station Street, I thought to myself.
‘Know what, I was actually going that way myself, why don’t we go together?’
Looking at me with a lopsided grin, she acquiesced and gestured to me to lead the way.
‘Mustn’t hang around,’ I said; ’we should go on the tram. It takes us right there.’
Never being backward at coming forward, I asked her how she came to be here.
‘Oh, I just picked a place at random for fun; you know, like a random postcode.’
Perhaps she had met a metaphorical fork in the path and chose one way rather than the other.
Quite where she might have gone otherwise, and who she might have met, I could not know.
Riding the tram, we sat alongside each other; when it jolted, she leaned against me slightly.
‘Shall we look at the Banksy reindeers on the bridge?’ she asked, touching my arm.
’That’s something I haven’t actually seen yet,’ I said, offering an encouraging smile.
Undoubtedly I couldn’t quite match her enthusiasm for street art, wishing I knew more about it.
‘Very interesting piece,’ she said afterwards; ‘now why don’t we find somewhere for lunch?’
‘Well, there’s a great little pub just down the road,’ I said, as she thumbed through the A to Z.
‘X marks the spot,’ I said, pointing out the place I had mentioned, ‘if they are still serving.’
‘You can take me to the Custard Factory later if you like – I’ve heard it’s buzzing,’ she said.
‘Zooming up the street together, the A to Z fell out of her bag again, but I hadn’t really noticed.’
Ian Coldicott lives in Lichfield, England, and enjoys writing short stories and reading crime fiction. He is keen on photography, studying philosophy, researching family history and transcribing old wills. Before retiring he worked for a local authority as a Demographic Analyst.
Photo – Ian Coldicott