“The worst part of losing a friend, is knowing that it’s not the end. There’s always one more time you meet, in a crowded shop or a darkened street. You quickly catch each other’s eyes, you drop your head and on walk on by, and you know in that moment or two, you might have lost someone who really loves. You might have lost someone who really loves you. Have you ever lost someone who really, really loves you?”
She remembered that line from one of her favourite songs, The Face, when she saw three men she used to be fond of.
She was at a friend’s party, a paper cup in hand, when she saw them arrive. These men were all very close, two of them are brothers and the other one their closest cousin. They all differ in age, A is the eldest, already 30. B is 24 and C is 22. A is still single, it is much of a choice as it is much of him being a mama’s boy. They used to be really close because he looked after her, she being 5 years his junior. He used to do things for her, he regularly called, but all it ever was, was a platonic relationship. She wasn’t naive – she knew he liked her, but she didn’t bother to press on or even try to see where it was going. Besides, it wasn’t A she liked – it was B. He was just the right type of bad boy she liked – intense but exceedingly gentle with her, honest, open and direct. Up until now she was not sure if he had liked her back. There were signs, oh yes, but signs were all there were. The moment of imminent seduction was between them but nobody made a move. And then there was C. Handsome, silent, and dedicated C. He confessed to her when they were very young, and owing it to she being older than him a few years, she declined. They went on a couple of dates still, however, because C was persistent in his own eccentric ways. He never tried to take advantage of her, never tried anything funny with her. He always looked after her – figuratively and literally. Whenever they were together, she always caught him looking at her when he thought she wasn’t aware of him doing it. He was silent, brooding, and was often jealous with his brother for being so openly communicative with her. And that most probably, she thought now while sipping her beer, was the reason she was so fond of B.
She hasn’t seen any one of them in years. A was the first to approach, always sure of himself and his good looks. He greeted her fondly, they exchanged pleasantries, and sat down. B was always the effortlessly cool guy. He eased in on their table with a small smile, asking how she was, commenting on a few things. C was as silent and brooding as ever. He was like the calm before a storm. She was most curious about him. She shot him a tentative, half-shy look which he returned pointedly – then she broke the gaze. There was no familiarity, no fondness, and definitely no emotion in his eyes when he looked at her. It was just recognition. He didn’t speak to her for the rest of the evening.
A and B then were her constant companions for the night. They talked a lot about trivial things, about B‘s wife and kid, about A‘s fiancée, and about her fiancé. They talked about the old times, A teasing her about B secretly. A never mentioned C. They all know that C is not interested any more, and he never will be, for he found somebody he was crazy for. They all knew he was the only one who feels that way; and that his girlfriend was just quite happy to put him on leash. She felt bad for him; she knew he was capable of the deepest devotion, and she was sure as hell he didn’t deserve that treatment from the girl.
B was talkative all night, he sat beside her all the time, he kept trying to make physical, verbal and non-verbal contact with her. His gaze was as intense as she remembered it, and his attention brought her instant pleasure. If there was anything she loved, it was the outright attention and appreciation of a man for her. She is vain but strong, lost but determined. That night she felt she wanted everything. She wanted them all at her feet, looking up at her like a goddess they worship.
Finally, she felt suffocated from all her silly thoughts and conflicting emotions. She excused herself and went to the garden to get some fresh air.
From where she was standing, she looked back at the table where the three stooges were. B was looking at her, C gave her a fleeting look, and A, well, A was being silly. She wondered how different all of them would be had she committed to either one of them. She wondered how different she would be, depending on who she chose. She thought how cruel she would have been to have chosen one and paraded her affection unashamedly. She thought perhaps it was just nostalgia. She thought it was probably nostalgia and beer. She thought it might be the “what ifs”. She thought it was the full moon, the cold breeze, the bright lights. She was a romantic like that, and helpless.
Her fiancé joined her a couple of minutes after.
She looked at him, and she wondered what emotions flickered through her eyes and her face as she looked at him. She loved him deeply, that she was sure of. But changes, no matter how small, affects everything eventually. All her choices, her thoughts, and her feelings vary, they change everyday. Sometimes she is unsure of everything and often times dead set on the belief that everything is all right. Could she really not want anything now, except this moment between them? To other people who might see them gazing at each other’s eyes, they would perhaps think they were speaking to each other with their souls, and they would never have thought of all the stupid thoughts she was thinking of. She searched his face for the reason why she wanted to marry him, and she found familiarity, a tingle of cruelty on his strong face, the subtle sensuality in his mouth, the depth of his eyes, and his vulgar nose. She wondered at that moment why she loves him, why he loves her.
Whether he understood what was going through her mind or not, it didn’t show on his face. He smiled at her.
Her heart skipped but she did not smile back.
She heard footsteps on the graveled path. She looked away from him and looked at the intruders. They were A, B and C. They were about to leave the party. A gave him an arrogant, knowing smile. B just stared at her. And C, he gave her a flicker of a glance and looked away.
She wondered if anyone of them would have loved her so much, if anyone of them would have been tender with her. She wondered if she should have tried and make it work with them, one at a time. What a slut I would have been, she wondered.
She realised she did not have to do all this thinking anymore. Her heart wasn’t theirs. It wouldn’t have worked. She was vain, arrogant, and insecure, but she knew to whom she belongs. She knew the someone who accepts her for who she is, no matter how much of a cliche is that.
She looked back at her fiancé, and for the first time that night, she smiled.