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'What if...'

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‘What if…’

 

As teenagers, my school mates and I played our ‘what if’ game to amuse ourselves, either at a café, train station or any public place, randomly guessing what people did and why, stretching our imaginative geniuses by reinventing fragments of their lives.

After school, we were found smoking ciggies, munching on burgers, and then would arrange for our parents to pick us up later from the station, so we could fraternize with the chicks from Mira college.

During our ‘what if’ episodes, an old guy with a limp might have been a murderer, or an aggro woman, a Russian spy. We imaged the hot waitress who served us smoothies was secretly a mafia crim’s mistress. Now, at 28, I’m surprised that the ‘what if’ scenarios have been useful in my job.

It’s lunchtime, and Lenore’s Cafe is hectic as usual. I’m lucky to find an empty table. While studying case notes on my laptop, I’m tucking into a vegie pie and mouthfuls of caffeine. Suddenly I’m interrupted.

‘Darling, do you mind if I sit?’ The voice is husky. Before I reply, a wooden chair scrapes the floorboards with a groan. ‘Thank you.’ 

I look up. A woman in a light-coloured trench, beret and scarf draped across her shoulders sits opposite. Immediately I am drawn to her vivid, green-coloured eyes. There’s something familiar, but I can’t remember. My mind starts ticking as the woman unravels her scarf and removes her beret… Late thirties, milk chocolate skin, grey below her temples - she has to be a media consultant, or was a model. She glances at my pie and motions to the waiter. ‘I’ll have one of those with my latte.’

He returns shortly with her order.  She sips her drink. ‘The coffee is exquisite here.’

I agree. Cups, saucers and glasses clatter as the espresso machine makes continuous whooshing sounds.

She smiles, ‘I’m Nayana’. 

‘Josh.’

Her eyes are fixed on mine.  

‘Let me guess, you are a lawyer?’

‘Yes.’

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