The Last Time I Saw You
The last time I saw you, we said goodbye casually, like new friends. We were surrounded by other people, everyone hugging each other goodbye, and you and I hugged just once, brief and unfamiliar. I kissed you, a quick one, on the side of your mouth. I don’t think you were expecting it.
“Have an amazing time, whatever you end up doing,” I said to you, looking up. You were always one of the tallest in the group. You smiled at me, your eyes crinkling, but your mouth stayed tight-lipped, not showing your teeth. You nodded once, and turned to hug someone else, my last image of you being one of someone else’s embrace.
The last time I saw you, you were walking away from me, your hair shining blue-black in the streetlights. I had turned back to wave again, but you didn’t, and so all I saw was the back of you, disappearing into the night.
We met at a beach party on another continent, a place where the water turned smooth as glass. The night we met the moon shone low, turning the sand a pale grey.
“You don’t need salt,” I said to you, reaching for the salt shaker in your hand. Those were my first words to you, leaning up against the bamboo bar.
“Oh, I don’t?” you replied, the shot of tequila in your hand full to the brim. You smiled a wicked smile, your teeth flashing like the Cheshire Cat.
“No, you don’t. It will taste better without salt, trust me.” I was flirting with you, my hand still lingering on top of yours, both of us holding on to the salt shaker, neither of us breaking eye contact. I was wearing a long turquoise dress; it brought out my tan and my blue eyes. I felt good that night. I felt like flirting with you, the most handsome man at the bar.
The last time I saw you, you were walking away from my flat, waving. As you turned the corner I still had a smile on my face. And then – you disappeared.
We met in a crowded east London bar over the thud of dance music and the raucous laughter of those still drinking at 3am. The next day I could barely remember your face, but knew you were tall and Scottish. I remembered giving you my number and laughed out loud; as if you’d ever call, I thought. As if you’d ever call.
The last time I saw you, you were standing under the bright lights of the big city. I only knew you for a few hours. You had a superhero name and crooked teeth and you had never tried an old fashioned until you met me.
These are the details I remember most. I can’t remember now if you have one sister or two, or what your job entails, or what you studied at university.
I met you by chance in one of the biggest cities in the world. Our chemistry was palpable. Within five minutes of meeting I knew where the night was headed. I watched you standing at the bar, waiting for our drinks, and you turned and looked at me just so. You knew it, too.
The last time I saw you, you were waving, grinning, the vision of you on a motorbike disappearing over one last hill. We had spent a week on a motorbike together, sharing the road with rusty trucks and elephants. I’d grip your waist, squeeze on one side or the other to direct you. We got lost, every day, and I had never had so much fun doing so.
I met you on one of my first days on the island, under the thatched roof of a bar that served alcohol in buckets. You were ten years older than me, your laugh lines defined, your smile the kind that lit up your face, lit up mine. My hair was so long I could almost sit on it, and you placed one flower behind my ear, my left ear.
“No, no,” I laughed, taking the flower from my left and placing it behind my right. “I’m single. Single women wear flowers behind their right ears.”
The last time I saw you, you were standing at the foot of the escalator. My suitcase had gotten stuck in the step’s grooves, and I fumbled with it and laughed. I watched you, and we kept waving, waving, until I got to the top and had to start walking. I would have stayed at the top a little bit longer just to watch you, you in your blue sweater and your mop of hair, your perfect American smile.