The dance floor is crowded and I’m already sweating. At the far end of the bar, I see a huddle of my good friends. Max is wearing a nice shirt today. Rose has curled her hair. They’ve all made an effort and I’m wearing the same old bomber jacket I always wear because I realised something this afternoon. None of it even matters.
They beckon me over. Loudly maybe, but I can’t hear over the music. I do my best to look nonchalant but it’s already three in the morning and I don’t feel like doing anything other than curling up in my bed with the woman who doesn’t want me anymore.
I know she’s here. And it’s just a matter of time until I see her, until we’re together again. I was nervous earlier, even giddy but now I’m just filled with dread. What do I say to her, if I get the chance? And how do I talk to her without bursting into tears?
I wonder what she’ll be wearing.
Once I’m with the others, I’m passed around like a new puppy. Hugs. Kisses. I swear someone ruffles my hair. I feel like a spare wheel tonight and a circus animal, carefully handled and not at all necessary. But they pretend they’re excited because I stuffed myself into this bomber jacket and came out of hiding.
I can’t even remember the last time we were out like this. All the times before, I was wrapped up in her. Wrapped up in how to get with her, get her home. I was a man on a mission and I never got to savour any of this. The camaraderie. The gestures. The way Max and I can communicate with just a look. The little things. It’s the little things I miss about her too.
I have to admit it’s a struggle not asking where she is. It’s a struggle staying focused, keeping my eyes on the person I’m talking to. I want to enjoy this story about Lexi’s prick of a boss. Or at least pretend. But it’s coming off as overly interested as I lean heavily on the bar and incline my head ever so slightly to take in not just her, but the rest of the room. If she is here, is this how I want her to find me? Lexi touching my arm. Playing with her hair.
I yell at myself in my head. What is going to think if she sees me seemingly flirting with Lexi? Is she going to think I’m okay? Because I am not okay.
What if she’s not here?
Look, I don’t care. I’m not bothered. I’m just here to see my friends and have a good time and who cares that it took me four hours to leave the house? The point is I did it, and it doesn’t matter that the thought that got me out of the door, finally, was of her. How she smells. The sound she makes when I kiss her neck. The way she grips my hair when-
None of it matters. I showed up. That’s the point. I showed up and she didn’t.
So I win. Right? I win.
But as the music swells, and the bodies move away from the bar onto the dance floor, it’s taking everything inside mennot to ask, not to scream at the group that has gathered here for the sole purpose of abounding this issue ‘WHERE THE FUCK IS SHE?’
I need her.
I can’t help it.
Not just tonight, I need her all the time and it’s selfish of her not to show her face. Not to give me something to fall asleep to tonight.
So selfish. She’s so fucking selfish and if she were here I’d tell her.
Once we were in bed together. Again. Like it ought to be. I’d tell her.