“What happened to us?”, She casually asks. (She pleads.)
“What happened to us? What happened to us.” He has asked himself this infinitely, he is asking himself this even now. He has given up getting an answer, any answer.
“Nothing happened to us.”, Answers he, innocently. Almost too innocently and quickly. His calmness betrays a dangerous turmoil within himself, a seething near-hatred that she would even dare ask that, after everything he had done.
“We used to talk more, we used to laugh more, together. Remember that time…” He has stopped listening. He is in the moment, the pain, the memory and fantasy of what was and what could have been, and nothing else matters.
“Hmm, yes, yes! That was so much fun! Wah!” His words taste like wet cardboard, not that he would know, but he somehow grasps that that is how insipid they are, like wet cardboard. A smile that does not reach his eyes plays on his lips. She is completely oblivious. How can she not be? She is in the moment, she is trying to grasp at a past that is only good for cloying love stories, the kind of past only a young writer could draw inspiration from.
“Are you okay? You seem distracted, well, more than usual.”
“Niko poa, stayed up late watching The Matrix, and this coffee isn’t kicking in yet. I should complain to the manager, hii kahawa ya leo doesn’t have that bite.” He laughs as he says this. She shares in the laughter. Oblivious, still. This coffee doesn’t have that bite… You don’t have that bite.
“You’ve watched that movie so many times. Hauchokangi?!”
“Hiyo movie ni mambo yote. It explores the concepts of what is real and the nature of reality in kick-arse ways, literally kick-arse.” The pedant. It was only a matter of time. She is used to him by now, in fact he is somewhat attractive. That intellect, somewhat clumsy when it yearns for attention; it was the first draw. It feels novel now, fresh and welcome, like that first time. She will not be here for long, though, she will not be here long enough to get irritated by it.
“Let’s go to… and have a drink.”
It is Sunday evening, that sexy hour between eight and nine, and the music is better left for a Friday night. For a moment he plays with the idea of walking up to the DJ and asking him to reduce the volume. He laughs gently as he tells her this. It is the first time he is laughing genuinely since they met (re-met?)
Tonic water for her, double-vodka and Sprite for him… No, just bring a cold Tusker Malt, thank you. I have to pay first? Kwani you don’t trust me? Seductive smile as he asks the waitress this. Maggy, with a y. She notices, then she looks away. The depths of the rabbit hole that smile took her…
They talk about their dreams and their plans, and invariably end up at the beginning.
“I don’t make plans any more.”
“Because plans don’t work out. I’d just rather go with it now.” Because I am tired of giving the gods a reason to laugh. A long silence follows.
He continues, recklessly now, “I had plans once upon a time…” She catches the implication in this, the accusation and the hurt.
“I’m sorry.” She means it, and it hurts her that he has still not completely forgiven her and let go of his anger. He did not hear that. The song has just changed to something with a deeper bass. That cool guy facade is fast falling off and he is struggling to keep it in place, so he leans back and narrows his eyes, to keep in the tears. He is still crying after all these years.
“Fuck, what is wrong with me?!”