She watched the skaters glide across the ice on the tiny rink, the huge golden statue omnipresent in the background. Flags circled the rink, and the adjacent mall walk was filled with white and blue hyacinths, the scent wafting in the breeze of a cool, sunny spring day. The sun had made her presence known following a morning of rain, snow, and hail.
As her eyes scanned the ice, she saw the young woman in the plaid coat, with tears in her eyes. Had she hurt herself, the watcher wondered, as she observed the small sobs escaping her mouth and the tears filling her eyes. She just stood there, in the corner of the rink, looking at something - - the man at her feet, the watcher realized as her gaze opened to include more of the young woman's immediate surroundings. He appeared to be checking out her feet or ankles, kneeling on the ice in front of her as she stared at him.
Then the watcher's eyes took in more of the scene, and noticed the video camera focused on the pair on the ice. And then, the watcher saw it...he wasn't on his knees checking her ankles. No, he was on bended knee, right there on the cold, wet ice, as he looked up into the young woman's face. Oh my god, the watcher thought, as it finally dawned on her -- he's....he's proposing! Right here, in front of everyone, and not a single person notices, or appears to notice.
As the reality dawned on the watcher, she got the attention of other watchers standing beside her, pointing to the couple and saying 'Look, he's proposing to her. Look!' And just her luck, everyone standing close enough to her to hear her words were from other places far away, and none spoke English...none at all. How ironic that the watcher, who was so shy that she never engaged strangers in conversation, would find that the one time she did, no one would understand her.
But some of the people kept watching the couple anyway, wondering why the watcher was pointing so happily at the two on the ice. And as the young man fumbled in his pocket for a small jewelry box, took out a ring, and slid it on her finger, the watcher heard the 'ah' of dawning understanding from those around her. The couple embraced, and then moved away from the video camera -- held by a soon-to-be father-in-law, she supposed -- to talk privately together in another corner of the rink.
The watcher left then to meet others for dinner, but talked her small group into walking back to the rink to see the couple who had just become engaged. But a mere 10 minutes later, they had left the ice, no doubt finding somewhere to celebrate the event further. And yes, the watcher's savage beast had most definitely come wide awake as she had watched. Wide awake.