At first I’m not sure it’s him. Then someone moves aside and I get a clearer view. I flash a smile – yes I do – give a wave. In his face, I see a spark of recognition tinged with puzzlement. Then someone blocks my line of sight, or he looks away, and I’m left feeling like a bit of a gimp. He doesn’t remember.
Or does he?
Our eyes meet again. He’s walking towards me, through the crowd. Winning smile #2.
‘I had no idea you’d be here!’ he says.
‘Ben! Wow, what, it’s been, like, six years?!’
We hug, crumpling costumes.
Two weeks earlier…
‘Thank you for the invite. I’m really looking forward to it!’
Georgie clasps her hands together. ‘You can come? That’s great!’
Hard to say which of us looks more pleased.
‘Also, how do you know Ben?’
She has a habit of doing this, bringing up a new topic as if it’s a continuation of what’s gone before.
I frown. ‘Ben?’
The name rings a distant bell.
‘Oh, Ben! I saw he was coming! Reeling, actually. But quite random reeling…’
In a barn, near home, years ago. At the time, he was dating one of my classmates. She was cool and sporty and not one of my favourite people. He was open and warm and friendly.
‘I really liked him,’ I say, throwing caution to the wind.
I pass him in the corridor, make tutting noises.
‘It’s work,’ he says, waving the phone in the air. ‘I’m on call.’
He’s not a doctor so I’ve no idea what this means, but it’s hot. We fall into conversation, drift in the direction of the sitting room and the makeshift dancefloor.
‘Dance?’ I say. For old time’s sake.
He declines; he hasn’t had enough to drink.
Which is when Georgie appears and gives him no choice in the matter.
There’s something quite ‘school disco’ about it, which is fitting: a sea of familiar faces; disco anthems playing; gradually coming together, first to dance, then to kiss…
(TO BE CONTINUED)