For years I’ve imagined this – in an airport. It had to be in an airport.
In some imaginings, I’ve paused in the cavernous corridor to study my boarding pass and I hear my name in your mouth. In others, you are in the hushed departure lounge, one long leg slung over your knee, a copy of Condé Nast open on your lap. I approach from behind and it is your name in my mouth.
You don’t have a profile on Facebook or Twitter – I’ve been checking for years.
You are here now, head and shoulders above everyone else bent over their phones. Your blond hair faded to a soft grey, as expected, but still luxurious and thick. Even from this distance, twenty-seven passengers, not counting the children, in the line between me and you, I hear the growl of your rich laugh. Although I see only the back of your head, it’s your eyes I remember, how the blue of them dissolved to grey on that final morning. The smell of another.
No one would notice, intent as they are on mêmes and texts, if I ducked under the straps, my free hand raised in a familiar wave (just in case someone did protest) to bring my body close to yours, to stand as we once did on our way to Paris.
But there were no lineups then, no security or scans. Just two passports and the young lovers could board, their hands free.
We would always have Paris, we joked, pressing close our young bodies. We flew, demi bouteilles of Champagne and Rothmans cigarettes, our life together stretched out like an airstrip.
Perhaps we’ll be on the same flight. Seated next to each other. And I will open my mouth as I have dreamed for decades to say, I’m sorry. To tell you, I love you still.
The line shuffles forward, heads lift, bags hoisted, the lane turns right where you are. The side of your face now visible.
It’s not you. It’s someone else; someone I don’t know and have never loved.