It’s getting close to release time for More Flirts! Here’s the opening of one of my favorite stories in the collection: “The Girl in the Pink Hat,” story #5. This short was inspired by a friend of mine who lives in Boston and got off the subway at the wrong stop to chase down a pretty girl.
She had a boyfriend.
But still, super sweet and romantic.
“The Girl In The Pink Hat”
By Lisa Scott
Zoe sighed as she read the precious handwriting on the crumpled sheet of paper again. Like she hadn’t already memorized it. “Learn to play the accordion,” she said with a groan. That was a tough one. But, she wasn’t going to argue with the list; it wasn’t her list to argue with. If she was going to learn to play the accordion, she’d better get started. Her therapist, Diana, had thought it was a good idea for Zoe to complete whatever tasks she could. Scanning the fifty items on the list again, Zoe had the urge to call Diana back and ask her if that really was a good idea, after all. Unfortunately, Diana had quit the business.
Zoe switched her attention to her computer, and searched Craigslist for used accordions. No luck. Apparently, they were hard to find. Either no one played them, or no one stopped playing them. Maybe that was a good thing. She didn’t really want to play the accordion. Perhaps she should skip to the next thing on the list.
She was about to log off the site, when she hovered her mouse over the missed connections link. Before clicking on it, she hesitated a moment. It’d become a bit of an obsession since she’d started cruising Craigslist to find the crazy stuff on Jenny’s list. Reading over the messages felt like being a voyeur, but she was enchanted with the near misses. How often did people brush past the love of their life without even knowing it? Were we all just a highway lane from finding true love? She wished there was some kind of follow up forum, so she could find out if the guy in the F-10 pickup truck ever connected with the redhead in the silver Miata on the 95 interstate.
She clicked on the tab. As usual, grocery stores were a popular place to catch someone’s eye. And the subway of course. One man was looking for the woman who’d given him the crossword puzzle when she’d finished the paper at a coffee shop. Another was looking for a woman who shared a smile near the swan boats in the park.
Then, goose bumps tickled her skin. “The girl in the pink hat on the T.” Zoe wore a pink hat—all the time. It was her thing. Jenny had given it to her two years earlier: a hot pink sunhat with a flower on the side. Zoe’s heart thundered. With a shaky hand, she clicked on the message and her voice wavered as she read it aloud, as if Jenny were in the room with her. “To the brunette wearing the pink hat on the green line, Tuesday around 6pm. You got off at the Back Bay exit. Couldn’t stop looking at you. We locked eyes for a moment. If you’re interested, email me.”
She sucked in a breath. “That’s me.” Brown hair. Pink hat. She’d been on the green line Tuesday, and got off at 6:05. “I’m a missed connection,” she whispered. Who’d been watching her? There was that guy in the suit who’d glanced her way while he was talking on the phone. Or maybe the guy reading the newspaper. He was cute, and they’d shared a look. Then she frowned. Hopefully it wasn’t the guy in the dirty t-shirt who’d been itching his belly. Nah, he hadn’t looked like he had internet access. He certainly didn’t have access to a shower.
This guy could be anyone. Her courage was waning, but then she thought of Jenny. Jenny would never have a chance to be a missed connection. Too bad it wasn’t on the list; it’d be nice to cross off a few things.
With Jenny on her mind, Zoe twisted her fingers in her lap and finally sucked up the courage to email him. What did she have to lose? If it was a bust, it was a bust. They’d meet in public, and maybe—just maybe—this would go somewhere. “Hi! It’s the girl in the pink hat. I was on the green line Tuesday. You’re the guy with the newspaper, right? I saw your message and I’d love to meet you. Zoe.” She looked up at the ceiling. “I hope this is the right thing to do, Jenny.” Then she crossed her fingers and hit send.