Slowly you move on. Little things help, like hearing him say he’s contributing to her mortgage.
No, that’s a big thing. The big thing. The thing you take away from the evening, that makes you glad you drank that second glass of wine so you don’t go home and cry into soup but instead drunk-message men with trouble written all over them.
But you still think about him. And, the following night, at 2am, with sleep feeling too far off, you draft an email.
Not for a moment do I consider declining Ryan’s invitation. Even though I’m tired and have lots of work on but no make-up. I toy with the idea of asking my too-cool-for-school colleague if I can borrow some eyeliner but think better of it.
I’m running late and fire off a quick message to Ryan, checking they’re still there.
It’s a shorter walk than I thought to the pub. He’s sitting in the window and my face breaks into a smile as I head for the door, push it open.
He’s exactly the same. The same jumper, the same trousers and shoes, the same hesitant smile.
And I want to ask him everything. I want to know every wretched detail of his life. I just want to look at him.
So I go to the bar with Ryan and we chat about his new job, the overpriced wine, our love lives. Glasses in hand, we go back to the table. Tristan’s talking to a girl – a stranger. I hate her for being there. It crosses my mind that the evening might come to an end and I won’t have spoken to him.
I’m telling Ryan about my recent spate of self-destructive dating behaviour when Tristan cuts in.
‘Shall we…’ He motions to suggest more of a group conversation.
I’m across from him. Bitch to my right, Ryan on my left. Bitch tells me she used to work with Tristan – she takes credit for talent spotting him. Once I’d have remarked on how brilliant he is. Now I just nod and say, ‘Ah’.
Bitch and Ryan are at the bar. I’m trying to crack open the more resilient pistachios with a metal knife. I press down on the nut and hear the shell crack. Our laughter turns to confusion when I hold up the intact shell.
It’s almost how it was before.
Our eyes meeting occasionally.
Him telling me about things that matter to him.
Like the mortgage. I need to hear it. It makes me check my phone, prepare my line about needing to leave.
At 2am I draft an email. Something about elephants in the room and wanting to acknowledge what happened, just to clear the air.
I don’t send it.
Slowly you move on.
The Best of Times