Gina pulled a cigarette out of a gold mesh pouch and placed it to rest between her red-painted lips as she rummaged in her purse for a matchbook. The tobacco taste was seeping through the paper and the nicotine was starting to tingle in her mouth and… where were her damn matches!? In exasperation she flung down her bag and tugged at the scarf around her neck.
Now would be the time for some man—some dashing man—to stride by and light her cigarette.
‘Allow me,’ he’d say.
Her eyes would shyly turn down to observe the flame, granting him leave to gaze freely upon her sweet face. Then, as she took her first drag, she would slowly raise her eyes to meet his in glistening ardour.
Of course, no such figure appeared to accommodate this fantasy.
A nosey old woman shuffled by and pointed at Gina’s purse on the pavement, ‘You ought to be more careful, young lady!’
Gina snatched up the bag in supreme annoyance, slipping the moistened cigarette back into its golden bower. She was running late and her mother would be displeased.
As Gina was impatiently stamping her little foot at the bus stop, a trolley rode by her in the opposite direction bearing The Architect.
* * *
The aspiring Architect trundled down Ponce de Leon Avenue on the sweltering P-2 trolleybus rolling a cigarette. Tobacco laid in its shroud like a corpse, Charles licked the rolling paper closed and tucked his anticipated delight away in a careworn satchel. Looking up, a smile flitted across his lips as his conveyance passed a tiny young woman waiting on the side of the road apparently in the throes of some kind of fury. Clearly unfamiliar with the fact that diminutive people contain the greatest passions, he musingly wondered what could make one so small so querulous.
If not precisely the equal of Gina’s dashing apparition, Charles was an attractive young man with a solicitous face and melancholy eyes. His fawn brown hair lay in tight curls on his head, unconsciously exuding the essence of artistic if not wayward youth. He fumbled through his bag for a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles and once they were procured, he began to sketch in the notebook balanced on his knee.
What Charles sketched was a house, and as he was trimming the windows and shading the contours of a nice chimney, he found that he was imagining it to be the home of the exasperated and tiny young lady. As he was adding shingles to the roof and polishing off a doorknob, he found that he himself was entering the house of the exasperated and tiny young lady and that, indeed, it was his home too.
Gina hopped on an equally sweltering trolley eastbound for Decatur. A sudden jolt conveniently helped her to a seat, and her fingers set to work arranging her skirt as her mind set to work arranging excuses for her tardiness.
Despite (or maybe because of) the troublesome thoughts that so often clouded her brow, Gina was pretty in an unconventional sort of a way. She wore her hair short in the fashion of the day and was always smartly and chicly dressed. Her mouth was too wide for her face but the Cheshire curl produced when she smiled formed an overall flattering effect of features.
Confounded Georgian heat!
Gina decided that she would tell her mother, tell Emily that she had met a gentleman in passing and this was the reason for her delay. An eligible young man who had offered her assistance—of some kind, cigarette lighting wouldn’t do. Anyway, he helped her, helped in a very respectable way which seemed to indicate that he was from gentle Southern stock. A good family, he was from a good family and Gina thought it very likely, in fact, that she would see him again. At church?
Oh, what did it matter!
Gina sighed and tugged again at the silk scarf around her neck.
As the westbound trolley hurtled forward in the midday sun, The Architect added more and more detail to his sketch and before he knew it, graphite flames were licking the sky.
For evidently, his roof was on fire with the tiny and exasperated young lady stuck inside his house.