He recognized her from the other side of the table. They were aware, that they were both there. But then there always is that head nod. With the warm familiarity of an old lover. Yes, warm. There was a hint of a smile in her eyes. It has been years.
Hasn't it been? Years. Just three. Two years and ten months. Nobody kept a count from the precise day they had quietly to decided to call it off. No fanfare. As quietly as they had begun. Between the occasional clinking of glasses and passing of salads on that lunch table, they had met again after a couple winters had come and gone. Their host that afternoon, was a common friend who had thought them to be a couple until he announced that he was to marry another woman. Someone else.
Someone else, another person, who didn't have her finicky fingers or her roving mind. A third person, out of the sphere of her imagination was going to be with the man she had loved the longest. Loved the deepest. Everything after l'affaire felt only lesser. The news of his wedding had crippled her, that they were expecting a baby, not as much. By then, the hot air had passed. Her blood rippled less often.
And now she was just a distant person, sitting on the far end of the table with a lot of strangers but one. That lunch stretched long, he walked with her to the parking. Their baby was due in July. The child that could have been hers. Only it was not. Only they had drifted far apart even when they were with each other. Still in love.
On a similar afternoon, long time ago, he had been plucking out stray strands of white hair from her head. Fishing them out from amongst bunches of black as she lay on his chest. In another world, yet on his chest. Feeling his heart beat. But that was a thousand afternoons ago.