She felt the kiss of the sun on her cheek. Each day, if possible, she would place her chair on the verandah and turn her face to the sun.  It was reassuring; it was comforting. In the warmth, she felt a sense of belonging.  The sun was her friend – her only friend.

As a child, her intelligence and outspokenness had estranged her from other children. At school, teachers told her to be quiet; at home, her parents banished her to her room, tired of the endless questions she would ask or the uncomfortable observations she would make. Other children did not associate with her because they sensed their inferiority. Cousins shied away, considering that they had nothing in common. The silent stacks of books in the local library spoke to her as no person could or would. It was through the windows of the library that she was first aware of the sun’s kiss.

In her teens, many boys approached. She had conversations, but the boys never returned. No-one asked her for a date; she was never invited to parties and no girl befriended her. She exchanged her glasses for contact lenses; her straight teeth embraced braces; she put on a padded bra, but none of these strategies improved her position in society.  Little sparks of light bounced off her braces as she smiled into the sunlight. She imagined the sun kissing her open lips and the radiance danced on the band of metal across her teeth.

She excelled at university. In tutorials, her expositions reduced other students to silence. She tried to get close to those studying the same subjects as her, but after a few conversations, they would avoid her. She sat in the cafeteria, a cup of coffee her only companion.

A career followed. She had her own office. Her colleagues respected her but did not socialise with her. She bought an apartment and spent each lonely night looking down on the activities of the city. She suspected each light was looking at her, trying to infiltrate her soul.

Despite the outward success, she felt an inner failure. The loneliness was seeping through her skin. She longed for a companion, a soul-mate, a person whose kiss was as warm as the sun’s had been. She dismissed the idea of internet dating.  She did not believe in God so there was no point joining a church. She was already well educated so she did not want to undertake further study.

Travelling seemed a good idea. Not a cruise of any sort, not a package tour of European hot-spots.  She decided on a walking tour where there was likely to be people similar to herself  – essentially solitary but looking for possibilities

On the first day, a man asked to walk with her. The second day saw them deep in conversation and she laughed often. During the third day, they stood on a cliff-top and watched the waves.  It was overcast and slightly windy. Suddenly, she felt the warmth of a kiss on her neck. It could not have possibly been the sun.

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