It’s been four years.
All that time apart.
I thought I’d stopped being in love with her. I thought that the white-hot pain of separation and then the dull ache of yearning had matured into the love of memories: a friend, distant and precious; a lover remembered fondly; that one, true, soulmate, unique and perfect, but nonetheless a resident of the past.
A fire may look all burnt out but, even in the morning, embers glow, hot and passionate, desperate to be rekindled, to re-embrace the essence of their being… To blaze again.
I feel it as soon as I hear her voice over the phone disclosing her location not more than a hundred-and-twenty second walk from me: tension in my abdomen, irresistable pulling at the edges of my mouth, contractions in the back of my neck, a widening of the eyes, colours becoming vibrant, and a gallon of adrenalin coursing through my system.
I try not to run.
I think through the things to do to be cool: the line to say when first seeing her, exactly how I’m gonna hold her when we embrace. I pull my fingers through my long hair, desperate to tame it against the wild breath of the wind. I pull the sleeves of my jumper down to cover my hands, just like how she said she loved. My heart’s thumping so hard I’m sure it’s gonna snap my sternum.
I feel light. I feel joy. I feel like I’m so fucking glad to be alive this exact moment. Thank the gods that, against the infinite odds that our race defies by even existing and – on an individual level – the fair amount of near miss overdoses I’ve survived, we two nexuses of electrical impulses and carbon based molecules and great collections of remembrances and moments are coming together in this tiny little part of the world for the merest fraction of the blink of an eye of the universe!
I fling my arms out to the side and address the sky, uncaring of the slightly bemused looks from shoppers, and the giggling of a pack of teenage girls who I nearly totalled with my clothesline.
For me, for then, nothing else in the world existed. My years of misery, my fears of failure, my hopes and dreams, my isolation and my loneliness, my songs and lyrics, and even my memories of love and lust with her… Dissolved.
I was whole. And I was present. I was more here, on Terra, in my flesh than I have been for years, I don’t know how many.
And there, at Journey’s End, she appears, rising from the little round wooden coffee table outside the café, coming towards me, smiling, a perfect vision of radiance, scruffy just how I remember her.
She’s not changed a bit: she even wears that perfume that only she wears and, locked in her arms I’m transported back across a decade and over two-hundred miles to the coasts of Wales in 2005, walking hand-in-hand come rain or shine along those rocky beaches… Off our tits!! I will deign to put in a “lol” here to convey my feelings of mirth.
“Taste this,” she instructs after disentangling herself from me, handing me a staggeringly burnt excuse for an espresso in a paper takeaway cup.
“The years in France have spoiled you,” I quip, and she replies she’d rather have a proper drink anyway.
Off to the pub. I’m thrilled to discover she still smokes. We light up and talk on the way.
Over the next two hours and dry whites and pints, we talk, laugh, absolve each other of guilty regrets, catch up, reminisce, flirt and gaze, until it’s time to leave. One hug isn’t enough, and she comes back for another, risking missing her train.
I murmur in her ear, “Love ya.”
“Love ya, too,” she responds, before turning to get the train, our fingers lingering just slightly before letting go.
I walk away.
I don’t look back… But I’m smiling.
Elated, I fling my arms aside once more and give a “Hurrrh!” of satisfaction, again drawing slightly worried looks from hurrying commuters.
Today, I fell in love again…