As soon as I exited Customs, I knew I would see him.
Not that there was any logic to my gut feeling, but as I turned the corner I felt his presence and sure enough, against the far wall, I saw him standing there.
He had aged quite a bit since I last saw him; his dark hair was now a mass of grey curls and his face was outlined with more lines than I could recall. He looked more handsome than ever; his beautiful blue eyes lit up when he caught sight of me and the laughter lines around them highlighted his wide smile.
“Oh my god! Girl! I don’t believe it!” he exclaimed, and walked towards me, arms outstretched.
He embraced me tightly, making my spine tingle as he touched the bare skin beneath the straps of my tank top. I felt the muscles on his back flex as I wrapped my arms around him and remembered how much I adored his strong shoulders; how I would trace their outline with my fingertips, before pressing my breasts against them.
As we hugged and I rested my head against him, I caught the freshness of his smell. I had an impulse to kiss his neck gently, as I used to, but instead I inhaled deeply – as if to preserve the smell memory of him – and squeezed him tighter.
We pulled back and did the embarrassing dance of two English people who have previously been intimate: where to kiss each other hello. We finally settled – somewhat haphazardly – on each others’ cheek, stumbling awkwardly with the nervousness of teenagers.
“What are you doing here?!” he asked, excitedly.
“I’m meeting my folks for a few days”, I groaned, “hopefully I’ll still be sane at the end of it, but I doubt it.”
He laughed and the lines around his eyes crinkled warmly. I remembered being seduced by those same eyes; that, and his wit, charm and Northern accent.
“What about you?” I asked. “You on holiday too?”
“No, I live here now” he replied, “I’ve been stuck here for the last hour waiting for a friend to arrive”. He gestured the Arrivals board above my head.
“Oh, wow. I didn’t know”. I was shocked at how disparate our lives now were. It seemed an age since our lives were synchronised, a lifetime since he lay next to me, stroking the hair away from my eyes.
“So, you still doing music stuff then?”
“Yep, bits and bobs. Mostly writing now.”
I recalled how the broken-heartedness of his lyrics showed a more gentle side to his otherwise rugged laddish exterior; the melancholic melodies and his skilful guitar playing entrancing me from the first time I watched him perform.
“You still doing film stuff?” he asked, and I remembered the night we celebrated my first big break in the movie industry with beers and laughter; I talked about changing the world, he asked to be my escort to the Oscars when the time came.
“Yep, still pretending to be a
He laughed. “You haven’t changed” he said, and poked me gently.
But I have, I wanted to say, I am a different woman now. I am less fearful than I was with you. I am no longer filled with self-hatred and doubt. I have no need to sabotage situations to protect my fragile and damaged ego. I am able to express my feelings openly. I have learned that it is ok to love, even if it means losing someone. I am more able to face and deal with rejection, even when it hurts. I have seen how it is better to risk pain than have a cold heart and be lonely. I understand that real happiness comes from sharing pleasure, love and intimacy with another, not from multiple orgasms.
I felt an impulse to reach out to him – touch his face – tell him how much I regretted the way things ended between us, but no words came to mind.
“What has it been? Seven years?” I asked, knowing exactly how long it was.
“Something like that. You look great” he added.
I saw his eyes fall over my body as if he was visualising me naked and I suddenly felt very self-conscious; I felt haggard from the flight and knew I looked rough. He looked me up and down and I remembered him kissing me from head to toe, tracing every inch of my body with his fingers; how he loved my breasts and would spend an age caressing them, his cock getting hard as his hands stroked my nipples. He used to tell me I was beautiful, but I never believed him; I wondered if he still found me pretty.
“You look great too”, I responded, and meant it.
He had filled out a lot since I last saw him, but it suited him, in that rugged, manly way that tall men can sexily get away with. I remembered kissing his beer belly, laughing at the way it wobbled as I blew raspberries on it. I recalled grabbing hold of his love-handles and pulling him close as he slid his cock inside me. I recollected writing his name in kisses on his back and hoping he knew how much I felt for him.
Suddenly my ride from the airport arrived, and cut my reminiscing short. We quickly exchanged numbers and said to keep in touch, but I knew that we wouldn’t speak again. It seemed right somehow to have closure this way – the coincidence of randomly meeting, finally ending that particular chapter in our lives.
But as I walked away from him, I felt a distant thud in my heart. Not because I wanted him back in my life, nor due to a regret about the past, but because I realised that he represented what it is that I miss - loving someone, and being loved in return - and seeing him had reminded me how much I would like to share my life with someone special.
I drove toward the hotel aware of my loneliness and saddened by my perpetual singledom. But I still felt hopeful for the future: if I could meet my past in such a chance event, then surely it would just be a matter of time before serendipity crossed my path again offering new and exciting possibilities.
I watched the sun begin to rise over the mountains, and felt like this was a metaphor reflecting my life: it was a new dawn and I was ready to feel the warmth of the sun – even if it burnt my eyes.