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Have tea with me

Aristotle at Afternoon Tea participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon. This means that whenever you buy a book on Amazon from a link on here, I get a small percentage of its price. That helps support my writing in a small way, so thank you. Happy reading!

© 2014-2018 Yara Zgheib All Rights Reserved

 

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On the Answer Sheet

May 17, 2018

I used to write your last name down at the top of my answer sheet. You were much taller then, or perhaps just looked so from my vantage point. Your hair was thicker as well, and darker, but I like this silvery tint. Your moustache would have been silver too had you not shaved your upper lip.

 

 

I cannot remember when you did. Your face has been clear and clean for years. Well, clean is relative just now; you have gelato on your lips.

 

Chocolate, one of the three different variants you managed to pile onto the cone. Dexterously, you lick the dark, darker, darkest to slow the precarious melting. Beside you, she is not faring much better with her red berry sorbet over chocolate. Looks of concentration, light panic, then bliss, successively on her face.

 

She and I also, once upon a time, shared a childhood and a last name. A bedroom, clothes, secrets, favourite flavours of gelato. I pick vanilla hazelnut these days.

 

A clock is striking the hour somewhere, but we ignore it, on holiday. Our different lives, for the first time in a long time, have converged for an afternoon. A table at a café, or a park bench or sidewalk will do; the sun is out anyway. Fingers licked, mouths wiped. You have chocolate on your nose, somehow. We three laugh. The way we do has changed.

 

Much has. I want you to fill me in on all the parts that I missed. The things one does not say on the telephone. Tell me about the months since Christmas. Tell me how you really are and what brought on those new crow lines around your eyes.

 

And her, I want her to talk to me about boys, trips, cocktails, cities. What her room, days, new friends and job are like. Whether she is still having trouble sleeping.

 

Did you go to your check-up? Did I? Well, I asked first. Silence and cautious retreat. The three of us then decide, wordlessly, to tiptoe around the minefields. Tact is key, and this afternoon too rare and brief for too much honesty. But as delicate as we are, the first bomb is detonated inevitably:

 

Since when do you -

 

The second, third, fourth follow:

 

But you never…

You always…

I thought…

 

If I were you,

 

but I am not.

 

How come?

 

I would have known if I had been around.

 

I know you by heart, but no longer who you are. We each became, separately. That is life, just life. It hurts, but no one promised us otherwise, I suppose.

 

I just assumed your hair would always be black and I would always choose chocolate like you. I assumed she and I would forever be the emergency contact the other called. I assumed you had and would always have the answers. I even assumed those existed.

 

I assumed we would always have time and each other. More of both than one sunny afternoon.

 

Time and each other. Well we have them now. So tell me things, big and small. Let me get to know you again. Find a new place to fit in your life.

 

I want you to tell me how you slept last night. About your life before us, growing up. Tell me about the plans you had. Friends, girlfriends. What happened to them? Whom do you call when you are scared? Are you ever? I am, all the time.

 

And then, I want her to tell me about the book she was reading on the plane. What song has been stuck in her head lately and what she does on Sunday nights.

 

Tell me, both of you, as much as you can, as much or as little as you want to. I will do the same, for an afternoon, and hope it keeps me going till next time.

 

We interrupt, disagree with one another, bicker, laugh, tease, irritate. Recognize mannerisms, remember inside jokes, and add new ones to the list. It is not a perfect afternoon. Nor are our track records, or we. But we are happy and

 

I love you. I love you.

 

Redundant, but gratefully so.

 

I will always love you, whoever you and I become. One last selfie at the bus stop. A few minutes later, her bus arrives. She disappears. You get on the next one.

 

I will always love you, whoever you and I become. One last selfie at the bus stop. A few minutes later, her bus arrives. She disappears. You get on the next one.

 

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