Gueliz girl

Written while in Morocco a few weeks ago.

I’m a couple of hours early for a meeting in Marrakech, so I take a stroll around the market in Geuliz. Wandering through the crowded alleys, a pretty young girl walks alongside me and says something in French. I apologise, and tell her I don’t speak the language. In beautiful English she asks where I’m from, and I tell her, and say I’m a stranger here and I can’t help her. I’ve no idea what she said, but I’m beginning to get the picture. She gives me a radiant smile and stops at a stall as I wander off.

I’ve got plenty of time to kill so I sit on a wall outside the market and begin making notes. A few moments later the tousle-haired beauty comes out of the main door and turns in my direction. She sees me and smiles.

“Are you okay?” she asks.

I feel like saying, “All the better for seeing you, sweetheart,” but the words that come out are, “Fine, thank you.”

When she asks if I would like to take a coffee with her, there can be no doubt that we are moving into a commercial transaction – she’s a pretty young girl, I’m not a particularly attractive old man – but a chat would have been nice. I turn the coward’s cheek.

“I’m sorry, I’d love to but I’ve got a meeting in ten minutes.” More like ninety, and I wish I had the courage to see the encounter through, but I haven’t

“Do you live here?” I ask.

“I’m from Casablanca and I work here in journalism and communications”

She’s seen my notebook and pen…I’m not fooled.

“So do I. I’m working here, that’s why I have a meeting.”

We look at each other. Her lovely smile has never left her face.

“It’s nice to meet you,” she says, and I shake her long, slim hand as we say goodbye.

I watch her as she walks down the street and crosses the main road. The last I see of her is her tousled head passing between two parked cars.

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