She always went to the library on Tuesdays. For three years, she floated among the bookshelves on Tuesdays, curling up in her own private corner to read history and science—but only books with illustrations, because she loves art.
But yesterday her car broke down. So, today she went to the library—on a Wednesday. Feeling as if the Earth had tilted on its axis by a single pesky degree, she thrust open the smooth library doors and glided to her nook: where the astronomy books meet the computer ones.
She stopped short. Her seat was filled by a stranger, knees curled up to his chest, nestled like he had been there for three years. Cradling a large hardcover, his little finger absentmindedly caressed the pale page-edges.
A metalish green square covered with black and silver polygons was drawn on his cover—reminding her of a contemporary painting. She turned to come back next Tuesday when the world was in order again, but the man looked up and spotted her staring, so there was no choice but to speak.
"Hell—o! What are you reading?" she asked.
The stranger (who's reading habits had not been questioned in three years of Wednesday reading) coaxed his mouth into a little "u." He explained, "I'm studying circuit boards—they're super intriguing." And then (to be polite) he asked, "What about your book?"
"The universe. Gravity and string theory; really fascinating stuff."
She knew nothing about circuit boards and he knew nothing about theoretical strings (except that his tennis shoes must have some because they managed to stay on his feet without any laces).
"That's nice," he told her. And he smiled for a bit.
She smiled back and waited to be asked about the theory of strings, but that was impossible because he was waiting for her to ask him about circuit boards.
And because they couldn't, the words faded away.
"Well, goodbye, then," she said.
"Yep; see you around."
As she went away, both people felt awkward and incomplete, but okay too.
She came back next Tuesday, as usual, and he came back next Wednesday, as usual. And they never knew that the only reason he studied circuit boards is because his next project was a painting of a shattered phone and the only reason she studied string theory is because she admired the fascinating sketches of theoretical strings. If they had known, they would have never parted ways that Wednesday in the library.