John and O never met in school. Sometimes they brushed past each other in the hallway, but even that rarely happened. They had their little offices next to each other, and some days of the week they taught a mere 20 meters away from each other, but they never met. Truth be told, John had no appetite to see O only for a couple of seconds. Just imagine being a blind guy who gets his eyesight back for a couple of seconds a day.
Sometimes during one of his breaks John would walk very slowly down the hall from the copy room to his office, right next to hers, so he could inhale her perfume.
It was always there, but if she had just passed there, there was a small cloud of it. John then stuck his head in that cloud and drew a deep breath through his nose.
It surprised him how much one being could long so painfully for an other being.
He thought it was a cruel trick nature had played on him, to feel this for someone who was either too busy or too aloof or too suspicious or just too uninterested to care.
He started to think of himself as some stalker almost.
That’s why often so many weeks went by without even a single word between the two.
On a Sunday morning, when Bratislava felt like a small village, just as quiet and with just as little movements, he wrote her. It felt like a kamikaze move, and he suppressed the thought that he was surely bothering her.
He knew she liked steak, and she’d told him how good steak was hard to find in Slovakia. He asked his friend Bram, a Dutch guy who had written the only Dutch tourist guide about Slovakia, about some good steak restaurants.
Bram, ever helpful, confirmed that it was hard to find good steak in Bratislava, but told John where they stood the best chance. Two restaurants a little bit outside of the center.
He texted her and to his surprise she said yes. She even added: ‘we can try them both’