The ban on smoking was hell on the committed smoker and, after he’d completed his second drink, he went outside to partake of his drug of choice. Typically, after he’d taken his first proper drag, the dark clouds, that had been looming, threateningly, since he set out from home, with nothing but a shirt and a healthy splash of aftershave for protection, reached the point of no return and let go of their payload, like an apologetic puppy might soil a carpet. As he took another deep drag, hoping to get a final quick hit before going back inside, a gust of wind blew a shirt-full of water at him and he stepped back in shock, the hand holding the cigarette flailing and hitting something. Someone. The girl. She didn’t know yet who he was, and he had rather been hoping to make a positive first impression on her. Burning the forearm of the girl you’ve been watching for weeks was not high up in his list of “things I aspire to, socially”.
He apologised profusely and she just shrugged it off. He offered her a drink in recompense, but she shrugged that off too. She just wanted to get away from the rain and the damp forearm burner. As he returned to his bar stool and she took up her position at the usual table, he noticed himself in the mirror. In his plan, his first offer of a drink to “that girl” would have come from a confident and smart guy, standing proudly before her. All he could see was a bedraggled, hunched-shouldered embarrassed idiot. What upset him most was that he wasn’t entirely sure that he had ever looked any different.