4 min read

The Woman Who Drew Portraits

Even if it was only for a second, the man had to acknowledge her.

The woman sat in the corner of a local café and caressed the surface of a tepid mug of coffee. She sipped it reluctantly, regretting the decision to let it set to room temperature. In front of her, there was a notebook and a sharpened pencil resting on the table. On every page, there were portraits of a man.

He wasn’t someone the woman imagined in her mind, but was someone who visited the café each and every morning. Overtime, she naturally developed a kind of distant bond with this man, a connection from afar. Her drawings eliminated the social aspect in their idealised relationship. The woman didn’t know him by his profession, or even by his name. Instead, she knew him only by his coffee order–regular sized Americano, skim milk, one sugar. Whenever she laid eyes on him, the woman would be so inspired and overcome with a sort of euphoria, that she would automatically begin to draw.

The risk in her art never really crossed her mind. It became this routine for her to get up, walk to the café and sit at the coffee shop to wait for her muse. The woman knew this might be considered a little odd if anyone were to ever discover the significance behind her work. But she would argue that life imitates art, it’s once you truly and honestly watch someone in their most natural state that your imagination and thought-process expands. You’re exposed to more aspects of someone’s life–their habits, their quirks. The true artist within yourself reveals itself.

This was her own form of artistic expression. Very few artists, if any, would ever dare to attempt such a dangerous pursuit of observation. She considered herself a pioneer in life drawing–a true revolutionary.

It wasn’t until moments later the man entered the café, wearing his usual navy blue suit and polka dot tie. He was late today, but this didn’t concern the woman in the slightest. Waiting only made her more motivated. He approached the front counter and ordered his morning coffee–regular sized Americano, skim milk, one sugar–and found a vacant seat near the window.

The man opened his laptop and began to type something on a Word document. The woman took notice of how the screen of his computer illuminated his face, which enhanced his appearance. It was as though everything was more distinct, renovated. So, she began to draw, easily distinguishing the shapes and shadows of his face.

‘Would you like a refill?’ asked the young barista, who approached the woman holding a jug of coffee.

‘No thanks, I’m fine,’ she replied, expecting him to bypass her quickly.

‘What’s that you’re drawing there? Looks pretty interesting.’

‘Oh-um, nothing’, said the woman, as she frantically attempted to cover the page.

‘Doesn’t look like nothing.’

The young barista snatched the notebook from the table and began to rifle through the pages.

‘Excuse me. Give that back,’ demanded the woman.

‘These are amazing. They deserve to be in a gallery or something.’

The woman stood to her feet. Her body was tense and shaken. ‘Please–I really need that back.’

The young barista stared at the woman and noticed how her eyes were beginning to water.

‘Fine, if you insist,’ said the young barista, giving the woman her notebook ‘you really need to learn how to take a compliment, lady.’

He walked away, whispering something under his breath.

It took the woman a moment to compose and calm herself. She exhaled in relief and took another sip from the cold mug of coffee. A close call. She glanced over at the young barista, who was now preoccupied with some orders over the phone.

So she continued her drawing again, raising her head every few moments to stare at the man and refresh her memory.

Once she was almost complete, a thought entered her mind. It was an unusual thought, one that she had never considered before. There was sudden and overwhelming urge to speak to the man.

At last, she wanted to break this wall she had constructed between them. The woman wanted to approach him, to make some form of contact. Even if it was only for a second, the man had to acknowledge her.

So, hesitantly and courageously, the woman approached his table, clutching the notebook of portraits in her hand. The woman’s body quivered in fear, while her breathing pattern became disjointed. However, her determination never subsided.

The woman stood at his table with a bright grin. Once the man noticed her from the corner of his eye, he turned to face her and their eyes met.

‘Hello,’ said the woman.

‘Hi there,’ said the man.

‘Beautiful morning, isn’t it?’

‘Yeah,’ said the man as he turns to face the window for a moment, ‘it really is.’

It didn’t take long for them to disengage from their interaction, but the woman was satisfied with the outcome, nonetheless. She walked onto the street with a spring in her step and a smile from ear to ear. However, it wasn’t until she was miles from the café when she realised that her notebook of portraits had been left on the man’s table.