“Where are you?” he asked as he weaved through the crowd.
“Near the statue of Gansha,” she said, tiptoed and trying to see his tall frame over the heads of the tourists and connoisseurs.
“What statue of Ganesha?” he asked, immediately aggravated with his inability to spot the tell-tale deity.
“Over by the um… what’s-we-call-it?” she hesitated, not knowing how to describe the large mixed media object in the window.
“Never mind,” he said, spotting her. “I see you.”
She waved to him as he made his way over and they both smiled. Her genuinely, him sarcastically.
“Ok, first off- that is not a Ganesha,” he said, pointing at the elephant head made of recycled plastic bottles and aluminum cans.
“It isn’t?” She looked up at it. “Well, one of the Hindu deities, anyway.”
“No, that is another man’s garbage that some oversensitive schmuck mashed into a random collection of shapes that bears very little resemblance to Ganehsa,” he explained, then laughed at his own insult.
She simply rolled her eyes at him and started walking. Sensing her coolness he fell into step beside her but immediately launched another attack on her funnybone by picking up a large glass tube filled with what looked like ashes and a piece of a burnt map which he held up to his lips and wiggled, doing his best Groucho Marx eye brows. She looked at him and laughed weakly, then walked on.
He placed the object carefully down on the table lest the vender try to charge him for breaking it and ran to catch up with her. “What’s with you tonight?”
“Nothing,” she snapped.
He twitched at her but stayed quiet, knowing he had injured her and wondering how that was possible given the two minutes they’d been together. She looked over at him, than shrank in on herself.
“It’s just," she began, fragile and soft, “don’t you ever get tired of it?”
“Of what?” he asked. He was bent over nearly double with his neck craned at an unnatural angle to hear.
“It’s just, I mean- these are people’s creations.”
“Yeah!” he laughed. It was a loud, harsh sound. “Crazy people’s creations. Hey, I made a ‘creation’ before I came here- think I could sell that too?”
“No- really. They pour their hearts into them! And we come here like the hecklers from the Muppets to make fun of them…” She had a distant look in her eyes, which would have served as a warning if he’d noticed it.
He grabbed her arm, stopping her, and turned her to face him. “Seriously, what is up with you? I’m five minutes late and it’s like you’ve turned into the philosophy student on the real world all of a sudden.”
“I’m fine, I’m just…” She looked up at his face and that same, stupid quizzical expression she’d seen a thousand times before.
They stood there for a moment, considering each other. The air between them was thick with the music from a nearby guitar quartet, the scent of wine and artisan crackers, and heavy emotions. It was one of those instances where you realize that the person you’ve known for years is about as familiar to you as the crowd swelling around you. And then she blinked.
“I just think I’m outgrowing this,” she said, and her shoulders sagged as she started walking again.
He followed her, afraid to speak, and fiddled with his phone in his pocket. The shadow of the bridge fell over them as they walked and the air grew a little colder.