John looked like the same John, and I was relieved.
He smiled profoundly handsome as Jennie and I walked over, but the smile disappeared quicker than usual, leaving behind a slight grimace. I sat down and before I had a chance to speak, he said how beautiful I looked, but his eyes were distracted and sad I wasn’t sure if he truly mean it. I responded rather too enthusiastically that he was looking handsome too as if it was a surprise, which, of course, it was.
I like the dress; he said. You looking hot!
Got it from Massimo’s. A bit too loose, but hey …
How’s things going for New York?
I understood his tactics and went along with it, giving a long, theatrical answer about how stressed I was, how the work were driving me mad, how it was turning out to be a hassle I could have done without, and how I was never writing another story. Even Jennie, who usually cuts me off with a loud hint and an ‘Oh, well…’ let me continue as if it was the most important thing in the world.
As I rambled on, I saw how fit he became, and I almost lost my breath.
It was Jennie who thankfully brought my unravelling monologue to an end when she asked me if I wanted a coffee. I said yes but pretended I wasn’t sure what I wanted, so I could make an escape to the powder room.
In there, I asked Jennie if she thought John had a girlfriend, and she said, maybe? But he looks lost and lonely? And she was right.
When we got back to the table, John asked Jennie how her work was going. Jennie obliged with an answer that wasn’t as long as maybe John needed it to be. Eventually things fell silent and although I knew he didn’t want to talk about it, I needed to fill the emptiness.
Let’s talk about you… how’s your music. John rebel, I don’t want to talk about it. I’m bored.
His anger shocked us all, even himself. John shot me a look that said, sorry. I reached over and patted his hand to let him know there was no need.
I can’t remember what else we spoke about that night. I wish I could. There are small things I remember though, enjoy noticing his same-old, clean-shaped thumb nails as he lifted his vapes to his mouth. These thumbnails, usually a source of playful ribbing, now made me feel sad. I also remember how his nose was sharper than ever, and how his cheeky face remained insanely like although it appeared to be a fading of the skin. I remember the spurts of sweet laughter that still rang out from his mouth whenever I, in an attempt to make everything feel normal, joked or made a bitchy comment about something.
I’ll never forget that laugh, just like I’ll never forget the night at The St. Paul’s Bay Restaurant when we both got tipsy poppers and John had a sniff for the very first time even though he was decently jealous. I’ll never forget his innocent delight at doing something naughty. Nor will I ever forget seeing him cook and play my favourite song at his apartment. And I’ll never forget his sensitive skin and how I used to pat it every time I saw him, teasing him about his hairy body and his music. I’ll never forget the obscene, hilariously night-out, barbecue and we were on holiday in Sicily, and how he looked like a responsible, sexy lover, those are the days.
I’ll never forget.
When we left the Molly Cafe that night and said our goodbyes, I wish I could say we shared a special moment; a moment I could remember, like in the movies, that would mark the last time I saw him in a profound and moving way. But I don’t think there was. We hugged briefly in the rain, said see you soon and then walked away into the night. There was no turning back for one last wave; no running back towards each other for one last embrace. Instead, we just kept walking in opposite directions, each step taking us further away from each other into the black night.
Originally published at http://fizzawrite.com on February 14, 2020.