- Vol. 07
- Chapter 04
I had been walking down one of the long meandering streets to the waterfront when I saw your face reflected in the window of a passing bus.
To see your face reflected in the gleaming surface of the window, was like discovering a note written long ago in my own hand containing instructions to a task I no longer remembered the purpose of.
We each enjoyed the few seconds before turning and embracing, those seconds of recognition where it would have been just as easy to blush and not turn, a fleeting rubberneck of old wounds. An avenue unexplored, a time not revisited.
We recited the lines we were expected to before coffee and peach-coloured wine, an effortless slip back into old roles and familiar masks. Licks of buried feeling caught the edges of our huddled postures as we hunched over a rickety table thrown into the spare patch of shade in the market square, and spoke in bursts of enthusiasm.
The last of the sun died and you said ‘shit’. It was a definitive shit, like the closing of a circuit.
‘Got to be somewhere?’ I said, like clicking 'play' on a trusty dictaphone.
Our eyes met like they used to and the fullness of the day dropped out onto the table knocking the loose change from the silver dish onto the cool cobbled street. This city, unfamiliar to us both, felt in that moment suddenly, unexpectedly overwhelming.
You still smelt the same as we embraced and I said it’s fine, just fine.
There’d be another bus, another time, you said with a smile that I hadn’t seen before.
I pretended to consult my phone as if it had the answer. I had neglected the app that was meant to be teaching me the language which would be my ticket to assimilation and it seared on the surface of the screen as a reminder of my distractedness.
We walked awkwardly in the same direction to the nearest bus stop, which happened to be the point where our paths had met hours before.
The green of the crossing signal began to fade and I did as I always did, and lunged across the road before it could lurch to red. I heard historic tuts and groans, as I knew how much it irritated you.
The traffic roared again behind me and I turned to see you had not followed me in my reaching strides across the road. I bit at my nails as I waited for the rush of traffic to cool and stop, and the beeping to resume to suggest the window of safe passage.
But as the beep quickened and trilled, I saw that you were no longer there and you never had been.