I see him out there. I wish I could tell him, he looks nice, still the same though, he should take care of his health. That smile never quite reaches his eyes. They’re troubled. Oh! The dark glasses cannot quite conceal the worries. I hope he hasn’t noticed me. I turn away and walk over to a larger, louder group of acquaintances on the other side of the room.
Barely one drink down, I feel like I might’ve swallowed a brick. And it’s now stuck somewhere between my ribs. It’s just his presence.
My hosts for the evening greet me with such love and warmth, for a moment, I feel everything’s right with the world. This side of the room is all familiar faces, warm and indulgent smiles, and yet, I catch myself wandering over to the other side, mentally. I must stop. This isn’t a game of hide and seek really. I try to focus on the music I hear. But I cannot register the words. No! Not this song! Out of the many hundreds of thousands of songs, they had to play Strangers in the Night. Some cruel joke this! And those people have started dancing to it! And there’s going to be dancing. Wow! I must hide before I’m pushed to dance. I think the bar is the safest place to be and park myself on the bar stool, mentally celebrating a small victory here.
And I hear his voice.
‘You look lovely,’ he says. I don’t know where to look, to smile or to appear composed and ask him about his health… I mumble a thanks. He lingers around for a moment too long. And I don’t know what to say to him. Should I ask him about his family? Just when I finally settle on asking him about work, she comes over and says, ‘I should have known you’d be at the bar!’ And the way he holds her at the waist, gives me the introduction that was never made.
I feel like a thief.
They walk away with their drinks. I hear her ask him if he knew me. I can’t hear his answer over the loud cheers for the new retro song – Summer Wine.