My breath is narrowed down to one long sigh.

Sally pauses, trying to steady the tremble in her voice. She be damn she picked this response to Rick’s poem.

For a red mouth that burns my thoughts like fire;
When will that mouth draw near and make reply
To one whose life is straitened with desire?

She puts her hand on the page, touching the words, perhaps protecting the yearnings within them. She cannot turn around. She cannot come that close to Rick’s mouth, his gaze, again.

Rick sighs behind her. Wow! Who wrote that? She senses he’s taking a step back to readjusting himself, his coat or something. As she gets up from the stool to turn around, she manages to think, she’s glad she’s not wearing red lipstick, and catches a chuckle before it lets out.

It’s but a short verse from a poem by Hafiz. I first heard this in a movie, Shiraz in September. The lines stuck with me and I tracked down that name of the poem by a guy on Goodreads. The book is Poems from the Divan of Hafiz. She shows the cover to him. It’s an ancient book, as ancient as Hafiz, and love.

You’re quite the researcher, Rick comments.

Or just curious, Sally says and walks along the shelves, books stacked in impossible patterns and pouring out. She runs her fingers along their spines. Her limbs are weak and wobbly. Is Rick completely without boundaries? Is he coming on to her? He didn’t strike her as a player online, in fact, she was the one challenging him. But now. She doesn’t know what to think. Perhaps he’s not even interested in their NaNoWriMo project?

She mulls over her next move. No matter what she might say, she’s gonna open a can of worms, and yet, to say nothing, would… leave them awkward.

The air outside is fresh, the sun has almost burned through the grey heavens. Rick stretches his arms out, lifting his chest slightly to take it in.

That was great. He looks at her.

She smiles, puts her hands back in her pockets, looks away, looks about, until finally she rests her eyes on his. It was certainly interesting.

She takes a few steps, nodding her head towards the Seine. And, she pauses until she feels he’s up on her side, if I may comment, the chosen poems were rather lips oriented. She pauses again. And saturated with desire and longing. I’m curious to know, to which degree you’d consider this romantic in your world?

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