The whole journey could be described in the swirl of nausea, deep in the rolling waves of her stomach, in the shaking of sweaty fingers that tap continuously on the cold glass screen of her iPhone. Sweat prickles up her arms, flushes her cheeks hot. Through the graffitied window she sees that white building, the one with the pristine green hedges and shiny windows. Her core drops. I’m nearly there. The tram thrusts forwards and she squeezes the edge of her seat. For a second she’s on an aeroplane that is descending down, down, leaving the lunchtime avocado on toast way up in the air, behind.
Quickly now. She speed-walks along the strip of shops, shoes one size too small pressing on her pinky toe. Sorry, she says. The dawdling elderly couple, holding hands, part. She darts around a circle of boys in skater hats and baggy jeans. Her heart pounds, a small army in her chest pushing her to go faster. What will she say? A man in a red car toots his horn as she runs across the road without looking. Maybe words don’t matter. At last, she reaches the familiar corner of the milkbar and two-dollar shop.
She holds her breath. Would he? A desperateness for him to be there fills her chest –longing – and yet a dozen little knots tie up in her stomach, tighten together. She tip-toes forwards, squints through the tinted window. Ah-ha! – her gut lurches. He’s there, he’s actually there. She bites her lip, curls the tip of her loose hair with her index finger.
He sees her.
In a book she just finished, there is a man who gives “1000X watt smiles”. I know that smile. It’s here. It’s as bright as the sun on a clear summer morning. It’s dawn, when the light rays first stream into the darkness, when they spread a warm glow over the city. Her cheeks redden. She is the pink hues of the sunrise that is his smile, blossoming rose in her cheeks.
She didn’t believe in true love. It was the same fantasy shit as Santa Claus. I gave you the presents, not the magical being I told you was real. Snow White wakes from death with the brush of her loves’ lips – a hoax, and that is all.
His eyes, she could not deny, always sparkle like little stars.
He takes a step closer. In her mouth is ten fluffy cotton wool balls, the ones she uses to wipe make up off at the end of the day. Her peeling lips are sticking together. Do my eyes twinkle? Panic drums her heartbeat faster. She wipes her moist palms on her jeans.
When he hugs her, her whole body is saturated with a warmth unlike she’s ever felt. Her shoulders drop, tightness in her neck slackens; honey oozes slowly off a spoon. He brushes his hands through her frizzy hair, and she sighs, deeply. In her dreams, the tightness of his embrace is her ultimate feeling of safety, love. It’s stepping in front of an open fire, letting the heat penetrate up from her thighs, up, to the hairs on her head.
She blinks. A truck roars past. She’s still standing at the corner.
The conversation is like always. Nice weather. His smile is golden, more precious than the favourite necklace in her jewellery box, than her bank savings. He doesn’t even know her name.
Gather yourself. She opens her mouth to say it, just say it, and then she closes it. Her eyes don’t twinkle – she’s sure.
She takes in his blueish eyes, the slight dimples in his cheeks, tries to memorise the heart-shaped softness of his face. Her hand are buried in her pockets. Be calm, now. She smiles, thin lipped, and says goodbye.