On the lawns of North Terrace, in between uni hours, he’s wearing mascara and an army coat. He’s talking, but his gaze is over her head while she’s scrunching the ends of her hair in the hope that they will curl. The bus comes and they slide onto the red, cracked leather together. Next to her, he’s thin under the coat and his hands are freckled. She wonders whether he dyes his hair as well. His long, delicate fingers curl in hers making her shiver.
Home. The flat is dark and smells of dampness. He goes straight to his music, racked and alphabeticised, prominent and in place of a TV. She throws her bag on the floor and uses the too brown bathroom while he cooks. They talk about religion and the FA cup as they eat pumpkin risotto, the steam rising to the sound of Depeche Mode. He looks into her eyes and doesn’t understand their greenness. She asks him about his family and he changes the subject. It is not yet the next century but sometime quite near the end of the last.
In another state she’s trying to balance a laptop and suit jacket in one hand. Their flight has just been called, her head is tight with flu. Ahead, freckled fingers grab the strap of a bag and suddenly the profile is unmistakable.
Filled in and filled out but the shell toes remain. They both have tattoos now. And self-assurance. He saw her when she first arrived with another man. Talking work.
Funnelled into the domestic flight, two seats and 18 years separate them but suddenly she can smell pumpkin again. Head pressed against the cold window she tries to breath in his molecules, wishing she could whisper along the plastic that holds them in, where have you been?
The plane lands and the people in front of her can’t dislodge their luggage from the overhead compartment. He doesn’t look back and when she finally exits, he is gone. He always walked faster than her.