Intro: This is a story i recently completed. I don’t know yet if this will become a regular thing but i thought there was no harm trying this out here for now. I’d love to know what you think of it.
With his eyes resting on me, he continued to answer Miriam, telling his story with ease and apparently oblivious to the effect he was having on me. ‘Fine’ I thought. ‘If that’s how he’s going to be, that’s ok with me. I can give as good as I get’. So turning my head towards Mike, I pretended that I couldn’t see him staring. I could see that this was infuriating for him, a development I was secretly pleased about. But of course, I didn’t let this show at all.
The whole experience was quite surreal. This was the scenario I had dreamt of for so long and I couldn’t really believe it was happening. There he sat, looking so normal and relaxed while I felt I could barely contain my emotions. How could I have such an intense reaction towards him even though I hadn’t seen him for so long? My heart skipped a little beat and I could feel the familiar nervousness settling in my belly again. It felt like I was holding my breath throughout dinner; I didn’t dare relax and I couldn’t address him directly. I couldn’t help stealing glances at him though. ‘Gosh, he’s so gorgeous. It cannot be legal that he gets more attractive with each year. No one human should be allowed to have that much beauty’. And on and on it went in my head till I thought I was beginning to go mad. Then while indulging in another stolen glance, our eyes met and he held my gaze for a moment longer than necessary. I thought I was going to melt into the liquid pools of brown that were his eyes. Mercifully just as I was thinking that I couldn’t take anymore, he dropped his gaze as the corners of his mouth creased up with a knowing smile.
I still don’t know how I made it through the night. I was so petrified of making a fool of myself but amazingly, the super cool side of me seemed to be in control. There I was making witty, insightful comments and generally holding sway all the while feeling like a mass of jelly on the inside. Somehow I held it together for two and a half hours and at the first opportunity I got, I tried to make a quick escape but James had other ideas. Apparently we were headed in the same direction and of course, it would make sense to share a cab. I couldn’t even find the strength to protest so I got in, determined to say as little as possible. I would not let my mouth betray my emotions especially as I was unsure about what exactly it was I wanted. I wasn’t expecting him to make some grand declaration about his feelings for me and how his life had been miserable without me around but I also wanted some indication that my absence had affected him somehow. I did not want to know that his life had been perfectly normal without me neither did I want to hear about his conquests of which I was sure there had been plenty. And so I sat there in icy silence praying for the time to pass as quickly as possible.
10 minutes in and he hadn’t said anything. Now I was starting to worry. How could he sit there saying absolutely nothing to me? Did he never think of me, wondering why I left or whether I’d ever come back? And what about the smouldering looks he sent my way in the restaurant? Did they mean anything or was that just his way of teasing me? Did he really have no interest in me whatsoever? I have to give James one thing: he was always able to mess with my head.
I glanced at him, catching a half smile on his face. How dare he seem like a man with no cares? How could I make him feel a fraction of the emotional torture I was experiencing? Punctuating my thoughts, the driver picked this moment to start a conversation. I guess he was as uncomfortable as I was with the strange silence. ‘It’s been nice this week, the weather huh’. ‘Yes, I replied. It’s much milder than normal for this time of year’. He carried on, ‘I know it’s none of my business Sir, but it’s never a bad time to apologise to the lady. ‘Excuse me’, said James his face rapidly turning crimson.‘ Apologise. You know, saying you’re sorry and all that. It saves you a lot of grief later and you don’t have to lose any privileges if you know what I mean’ continued our driver. By now I was completely mortified and wishing i could disappear. It wasn’t all bad though because for the first time since we started this journey, James and I were experiencing the same emotion.
‘Oh, it’s one of those things. We’ll work it out later but thanks for your advice. Would you turn on the radio please?’ he asked the driver. It was, I thought, a great diversionary tactic. It would keep him quiet for a few minutes at least. While I was working out how to explain to James that I was sorry the driver had mistaken us for a couple (I was sure my pouting had something to do with his reaching that conclusion), he turned to me and said quietly, ‘he’s right you know. I never did say sorry for what I said’. There was silence as we both cast our minds back to the ugly incident that marred our last meeting. He continued ‘ I was only angry that you seemed so impenetrable. I wanted to get a reaction from you but I didn’t mean to hurt you’.
There it was, the admission I had longed for so much. I would have given anything to hear him say sorry then and though I thought I was past it, the memory apparently still had the power to move me. There was silence again as I grasped for words. ‘I’m sorry too. You know, I was always so nervous around you and I could never find the right words to say. I didn’t want you to think I was stupid so I kept quiet instead. I never intended to make you feel rejected’.
And so it was all out. In less than 5 minutes, the shadow hanging over us was dispelled and for a moment, it felt like the car filled up with fresh air. I could finally take a deep breath, relieved that I had gotten the chance to tell him what I wished I had from the beginning. For the first time since we entered the cab, we were at ease in each other’s company. The silence between us no longer felt heavy and from the corner of my eye, I could make out the outlines of a smile on the lips of our nosy driver. We were now pulling up to my building and I realised that our journey was quickly coming to an end. As the car came to a stop I turned to James to say goodbye. ‘If you want to talk or just hang out, you know where to find me.’ I said. Next thing I knew, he was drawing me in for a hug and in that moment, I had the strong sense that it was all going to be alright.
I let myself into the lobby and as I headed up the stairs, I caught sight of them leaving. When I stood in this spot earlier in the evening, I could not have imagined what would happen tonight. I hadn’t even known that he was going to be at dinner. And just like that, in the space of four hours, everything was different and the world seemed full of possibilities again.