Another piece inspired by 2DTeleidoscope’s writing prompt. This is fiction.
“Jeez, you haven’t changed at all, Peter.” Rachel’s first words to me in ten years sounded more disappointed than surprised. But she held out her arms anyway: “Come here, you,” she said, and we embraced. “How are you, anyway?”
“Good, good,” I replied. “So what are you up to these days?” I caught a whiff of alcohol from her breath as we let each other go and the pleasantries continued. The other old classmates slipped themselves around us as we talked.
“To be honest, I didn’t think you’d come,” Rachel said. “This didn’t seem like your sort of thing.”
“Oh. Well, I just thought—you know—”
“That I might be here?” She grinned slyly.
“Hey, this wasn’t your sort of thing either,” I said. “But.” I stared down at my shoes sheepishly. “I guess so?” I looked up hesitantly.
Rachel laughed heartily and hugged me again. This exuberance was new. “You’re such a sweetheart, Peter! Why did we break up again? Anyways, let’s—” She reached over for the cheap plastic wine glass she had set down on a table behind her, half filled with chardonnay, and raised it. “—have a toast. To our reunion. Hey, where’s your glass?”
“I don’t drink anymore,” I said.
“Oh. Ok.” She seemed flustered for just one moment, the clichéd reunion scene having gone off-script. Finally she spotted a nearly empty cup and thrust it in front of my face. “Here.”
“Okay…” I took the cup gingerly, trying not to get used to holding a wine glass again, and raised it.
“To our reunion,” she said. I echoed.
We clicked plastic glass to plastic glass. She never used to make me do stupid ritualistic stuff like this. We made fun of the people who did. But now: the flush on her cheeks, bobbing her head to the Sugar Ray song.
“You seem energetic these days,” I finally said.
“Really? I don’t feel all that different. I still don’t know what—”
“It’s ok.” I put the glass she had handed me down. “Listen, it was great seeing you and—”
She tugged at my sleeve. “So soon? Don’t you want to, you know, catch up a little more?” Now I saw the sadness, the same forlorn flicker in her eyes when we left for our different universities, the one that knew that our emails, phone calls, and visits would dwindle into nothing.
“Well. All right.” I tried my best to shrug coolly. “Let’s ditch these losers and find somewhere to talk, ok?”
“Yeah.” The old smile returned. “Let’s do it.”
“But I can’t have anything, all right?”
“That’s ok.” She somehow found a bottle that hadn’t been drained and grabbed it by the neck. “I’ll have enough for both of us.”
“This is going to be a long night, isn’t it?” She just rolled her eyes and laughed again.
We found a quiet corner away from the crowd and we talked. The party ended and we moved to the front seats of my car and talked some more as she would drink and drink another. Between night and blue dawn the hours flowed freely with the memories and the pain.