The next time Giovanni was in the library he looked for the man, looked between the book stacks and checking the cubicles used by the occasional student to study. Looked for the curly dark hair and round tortoiseshell glasses that he only vaguely remembered, most of his attention having been fixed on the man’s hands. He found him in a far corner of the library.
Tucked away between the historical nonfiction and autobiographies, the dark hue books complimenting his honey-colored skin, he was running his slender fingers over the books as if they were old friends. It took Giovanni five whole minutes after seeing that strangely beautiful sight to work up the nerve to enter the same aisle. The man looked at him for a moment but said nothing. Another five minutes and Giovanni turned to him and uttered a very quiet, even shaky, “Hello.” The man simply stared at him with the same intense focus as before as he nodded. No return hello, no smile, no change in his placid expression on his subtly handsome face. Just a slight curiosity in the depths of his eyes.
But it was enough for Giovanni.
Giovanni went through a process every time they met in the library. They would meet in their corner, hidden away in their leather chairs angled just so until they could both see each other when they looked up from their books. The scent of honeysuckle drifting through the slightly cracked window along with the late evening sun.
They would spend hours in comfortable silence, reading, getting lost in their own little worlds. Occasionally they would speak in hushed tones, only a few words here and there about their readings, respectful of the library’s quiet.
But before all of this was his battle to get a greeting out.
Taking his time to calm his nerves enough to manage a hello. Maybe a few sentences on a good day asking how he’d been and what he was reading. And the man, who on their sixth meeting Giovanni had been counting revealed his name was Henry, would more often than not stay silent, reserved, and simply listen. When he did speak, Henry’s voice was low and his words were slow coming. He seemed to measure every word before he spoke. Giovanni liked his thoughtfulness.
He treasured Henry’s rare words.
He tucked them away, deep in his mind where they would be safe. He poured over them again and again when he lay in bed at night. Thinking of Henry.
The dark made Henry’s words seem to glow in the moonlight streaming through Giovanni’s windows.