The party was dull and Katie couldn’t hide it. There was only so many times she was prepared to roll her eyes in her mind and plaster on a fake smile as fellow reveller entered her precious personal space – thirteen and counting. She wandered into the kitchen, on the search for another can of beer to numb the terrifying dullness of the occasion. She plundered the fridge, pulling out another can. She turned away, bumping into a tall, handsome man. His hair was jet back, and his tight-fitting jeans and multiple piercings suggested he was a rocker.
“Sorry,” he said.
She studied his many tattoos and spied his pierced lip.
“It’s ok,” Katie said, fingering her hair. She smiled and pressed the cold can to her lips and took a long swig. The stranger walked on and vanished amongst the throng of drunken partygoers.
She had agonised for nearly an hour. He had made three passes of her in the kitchen. Something had to break. The music was getting worse by the second, and a steady flow of drunken suiters came and went.
He instantly winced after saying it. Katie laughed.
“Nice cheekbones?” she laughed. “Is that all you’ve got? Wow.”
A few drinks later, Dutch courage flowed. They spoke about everything and nothing. Politics, the weather, their favourite films and why yogurt lids always split. She was into indie pop and jazz, he liked Heavy metal and punk.
They were so different, but so in tune. When they had finished talking, their mouths joined in a passionate kiss. One thing led to another, and then another, and then that led to the bathroom.
It was late. So late.
Amid a pile of tangled clothes, they exchanged numbers, and kissed. She called her taxi, and he caught his train.
The intervening weeks were blissful torture. Text after text after text. There was only so much they could say in bold italic. He teased and flirted in a hundred words or less. She was all emojis and gifs. Not a word was said, but they had said so much.
As days turned to weeks, they skirted the obvious question that sat on their lips. Then, an opening; a chance to rekindle this dormant flame. A blissful reunion was on the horizon. The stage was set.
In a seafront café, where the food was greasy and the tea was cheap, hands reached out over the plastic, gingham table cover. Was this the first embers of young love? Her insides buzzed and flipped over and over. He felt a desire he had not felt since he was a teenager at an Evanescence gig some years back. They spoke about everything and nothing. They laughed and joked, the flirting was obvious and unrepentant.
Seaside sun turned to showers. People came and went without them noticing. The whole world around them evaporated, the light faded and the sun prepared for sleep. The café closing behind them.
“So?” he said.
“So?” she replied, her lip forming an almost smile.
She sighed. It was heavy and crammed with unspoken words.
“There’s my job here, and there’s my family. And you live like, miles away.”
He nodded, agreeing, but inside he fell apart. His fake smile concealing a crushing disappointment not felt since his hamster had died.
They shared another lingering kiss, as the café assistant tutted and worked around them.
She called her taxi, and he caught his train.
The prevailing weeks were horrible. The texts were less frequent. The emojis and the gifs were gone. It was polite, friendly. He assumed he was being brushed aside, so ignored all his inner instincts and refused to flirt. He wanted her, but he did not think she really wanted him. She had made a mistake. They had something, something tangible, something amazing that no words could describe. She moaned to any work colleague that would listen. She moaned to her Mum and her Dog. She felt something, it was real but…
Luck is a funny thing. A party was on the horizon, and the Gods of rumour and good fortune were her friends. She had it on good authority that he would be there. She knew she had to be there; this needed to happen, it would be a crime against love is she didn’t.
The function room was bouncing. The air was filled with music and party-acceptable chatter. All human life was here. Goths, metallers, indie kids and the hipsters. Even the trendies in their carefully pressed, overpriced shirts were accepted here. She stood, back to the bar, holding a bottle, gently fingering its lip. Others danced and jumped round with gay abandon. Good times flowed, and beer was spilled, but she could only manage a slight tapping of her foot. A few folks from the Brighton drinking scene said polite hellos and exchanged non-descript chatter, but they had been and gone. She was alone, and that was fine.
Who was she kidding? She wanted desperately for her man to appear and liven up this shindig. She would not let on, but from the moment she had arrived, she had spied the scene like a hawk, hoping to find him.
He wandered into view. He was gorgeous. Skinny jeans and leather jacket. James Dean eat your heart out. He strolled over like he owned the world.
“Hey,” she beamed. Her heart started skipping again, her chest filled with a fire.
“Hi,” he replied.
From behind him, a pretty young thing emerged and grabbed his arm. She was made up to within an inch of her life and wore very little.
“This is Nancy,” he said. “We met last Saturday night.”
“Great,” she lied. “I’m so happy for you,” she lied again. Her heart was snapped in two and would soon be at the pit of her stomach. She quickly drained the bottle and hoped for a giant hole to consume her.
“Nice to see you,” she lied for a third time.
She wanted nothing more than to cry, but she would give him that. She presented the best fake smile she could, as her heart broke inside. She turned away while Max factor led him into the crowds and away from her.
The rest of the party became a blur of nothingness. The noise died, the music stopped and the people went home.
She called her taxi, and he caught his train, and all that remained between them was the rain.