Do you remember the first time we kissed? I do, we were in your faded Volvo and you still had braces on your upper teeth.
Do you remember the time first time we danced together? “At Last” by Etta James was playing in the background and we fumbled around clumsily, giggling and barely able to hold ourselves up as I eventually crumbled into your arms.
Do you remember the night you said you would always love me? It was a humid and dark, with no glittering stars to bless us. We were on an old, creaky swing in my neighborhood park. You lowered your head and kissed me ever so gently. As my lips parted for you, I realized I had never held happiness in my hands before.
Do you remember the night you told you me it was over? You stormed out of the house, leaving me cold, cold. “Don’t leave,” I said. Those two words were the only words I was capable of uttering, over and over again. For the next two days, I was a captive prisoner, shut off from the rest of the world — a world that now seemed so vast and empty because you weren’t in it.
Do you remember the last time we kissed? I don’t. I don’t remember our last kiss, our last dance, or the last time you said you loved me. Perhaps I was a fool, because I never saw it coming. I never wanted us to end.
Now I look at you, with your eyebrows raised ever so slightly, questioning me and dismissing me at the same time. We haven’t been in the same room for more than two years. And yet, you lounge by the bar and look away. You are nonchalant.
I look at you, desperately eating up small details. Even after two years, everything about you is the same — physically, at least. Lost and reawakened feelings stream through me, past all the barriers and filters I painstakingly constructed. Memory and desire mix and mingle, treacherously sweeping me away while you stand there, nonchalant.
My sweaty palms and trembling lips betray me as he leads me to our table. He? It suddenly hits me with the force of a thousand bricks: I’m here with another man. Guilt washes over me. How can I hold another man’s hand and smile into his lilting eyes as I am swept away by desire for another?
“But this isn’t just another guy” my mind feebly protests. I know you intimately, as well as you could ever know another person. Till this day, I still know your body better than I know my own. Years of laying our souls bare, exposing our deepest longings and fears at the ungodly hour of 3am over a phone line. Years of sitting next to each other, perfectly silent and yet, perfectly content in each other’s companionship. Together, we built up a vocabulary of shared meanings, so comprehensive that none comes close in comparison.
I force myself not to look at you. But oh, how I want to. I want to feel your possessive eyes on me, just like before.
And then, everything falls into place. When I look at you, I’m not really looking at you; I’m looking at the guy you once were. But you are no longer the person I knew, and neither am I. The swift, rising emotions that threaten to blur my eyes and choke me up are not of the present. They are simply past emotions, nostalgic remembrances. Sweet memories, funny memories, painful memories: the emotions you carry belong to the past, not the present. I was tricked into believing that my long-forgotten feelings were dormant, merely waiting to be awakened. But memories won’t fool me twice; my feelings for you aren’t dormant, they are dead, fossilized. So you have every right to be nonchalant, because you are staring at a stranger.