He sat at the tiny table watching the people as they moved passed, fingers tapping on the checkered table-cloth. The businessmen pushing their way through quickly, jabbering on their mobile phones. The tourists more slowly, taking in the sight. The children with unfocused energy, ricocheting between the adults. He sipped his café creme and watched the world go past. This was the Champs Elysées: everyone ended up here eventually, if you had the patience to wait. One day, it would be her and he would be here to greet her, the woman of his dreams. He had all the time in the world.
The waiter glanced at him and moved on to the next table. He leaned back in the wicker chair and enjoyed the June sun; soon it would be too hot to sit out of the shade but for now, it was perfect. A young American leaned against a tree and began strumming his guitar. A group of Japanese tourists crowded near, voices raised to be heard above the bustle of the crowd.
Then suddenly, he saw her, exactly as he had always imagined her. He stood, rapidly, knocking the table, spilling the coffee. She was moving down the boulevard, away from him. He tossed a five Euro note onto the table and rushed after her.
"Miss, Mademoiselle, Madam?"
The words flew from him as he chased her. He had to get her attention.
"Miss! Stop please!"
Finally she turned around, looked at him. My god, those eyes! He could lose himself forever in those eyes.
"Do I know you?" Her voice was quiet; the accent, French.
"No. Yes, I don't know. I've been waiting for you all my life!"
"I ... I think you have me confused with someone else," she whispered.
Oh God, how to make her see!
"I recognized you. Really, I did. Come have a coffee with me, please. Let me explain."
She shook her head, her hair falling into her eyes. "Non, Monsieur."
He watched, dismayed, as she rushed away without looking back.
It was too late, she was gone. He sighed and walked back to the cafe. His table was still free, the waiter hovering near to take his order for another café creme.
He sat back down at the table and watched the people as they moved passed. Everyone ended up in the Champs Elysées eventually, even the woman of his dreams. He watched the world pass by and waited. He had all the time in the world.
This story originally appeared in Lily Lit Review.