Her hand lay across the red-and-white checked table.
I didn’t move mine, I let it stay near me, comfortably away from hers. Too many people were around us, and I’ve always been shy. Her chocolate brown eyes don’t meet mine either, they are too busy staring away, at someone else’s.
Our position in the hunt of hearts was similar, trying to catch something that cannot be caught, chasing something that isn’t there, couldn’t be found.
I look down to my hands, cold and lost. Could I move them? Do I have the faith in myself, that they won’t shake, maybe fall down halfway across the table, Could I grab her hand, and hold her gaze, just for fleeting moment, and let my actions speak what I can’t?
Or will my touch make her retreat, go back to what she knows, away from me? Shatter the long-spent friendship with her into a thousand fragments of dreams? Or will she move her hand away, back to herself, by the time I reach her? Will she be there?
My hands were sweat-ridden by now. As if they knew what important task they were supposed to do, of the burden they carried.
Our eyes meet for a fleeting moment. The brown eyes, playful yet warm, bear into mine. Her smile dips, as she turns back again, away from me, and I stare on aimlessly, my pounding heart, lost amongst its own fantasies.
Was the dip deliberate? Or not? Did she mean something? Did we communicate? Was I just labelled as a just another? Someone not worthy of her attention anymore, after all the ups and downs we’ve been through? After the times I’ve almost ruined the bond we ‘ve built up, again and again?
She is oblivious to me. I am a long way away from her, hidden amongst the shadows, inconspicuous. I watch her again, speaking with strangers, the graceful movements and the playful bob of her head, her hair cascading lightly down her shoulders. A laugh escapes her lips, breathing a tune impossible to forget.
She doesn’t know it, she doesn’t hear the tune of my cries. She chases on, unsure of herself, testing the waters, again and again. She doesn’t know half the story. She is lost for someone, the way I am, and she doesn’t know that I know. And in this circumstance, she will only prolong the suffering dwelling in the folds of her heart.
I know, I’m aware of my unwanted presence here. Eyes of faded people follow me, ripping into my thoughts. Could I push them away, ignore the people pulling me down-away from her? Do what I wish to do? Or will I shy away, laugh without meaning to and smile despite not being happy, and only push myself away as I have always done so? Do I have the courage? Could I?
A rosy picture paints itself in my mind. Us two, together. It is possible.
I lift my hand up. My stomach is full of butterflies. My body tenses up, its lifting a heavy object, my face torn up in concentration. She is unnaturally away, a hundred miles, even though I remember she was sitting right across. I move my hand, which shakes with nervousness. She moves her hand away, back to the glass and takes a sip, and sees me, the emotions etched on my face, brimming with a thousand questions.
And She solves the puzzle.
Her eyes meet mine, burning with warmth. And this time, they don’t move away. And the smile doesn’t dip, it just becomes wider.
A second passes. Another. And another. And we keep on looking at each other, forgetting the chaotic sea of noise around us, of meaningless people, and fake emotions.
She’s waiting, I realise. She’s waiting for me. She’s waiting for my hand to reach across and slip into hers. Because, as I’d come to know in hindsight, I should’ve taken the chance, because I wasn’t going to get a second one.
I do not move.
And I still do not move as her lips tighten, as she stands up, and leaves.
I don’t know why she’s leaving,
Or where she’s gonna go,
I guess she’s got her reasons
But I just don’t wanna know
Cause For 24 Years
I’ve been living next door to Alice.