We’d sat in the cold white student house for hours, and when no-one turned up, thought ‘Fuck it’.
I was designated driver, as always, so had that weird fake-but-real buzz you get when you’re around drunk people despite not having had a drop yourself.
The middle floor was the worst, all 90s R&B that you’d rather forget, but it was dark and smoky and the flashing lights were heady, and the floor sent vibrations of potential through you with the thrum of each beat. My skin was overheating with the kind of warmth that only comes from bodies packed in a room, looking for escapism for the night.
I liked his face, and how his cupid’s bow was so deep. All I had were glimpses of his tall, lean body through the crowd, but it kept me looking back. Our eyes met, and again. I turned back to my friends and laughed to myself.
‘Who are you kidding?’, the voice murmured.
‘He’s not looking at you. You’re not enough.’
He danced confidently, unlike me. He was so sure of himself, of every step, and it somehow made him easier to pick out. He was also still looking at me, I could feel it.
‘Give up‘, the voice said.
“Shall we go downstairs?”
Simultaneous nods and we edge to the steps. My boots are flat and chunky – he would mock me for them later – and they carry me away from what could have been.
The grimy ground floor, that’s more our scene. My teeth tingle from the sugary soft drinks and my jaw is clenched and tight from the tension of singing along and holding a smile.
We weren’t meant to be there, shoes sticking to the floor and strobe lights in our eyes.
When you look back, it’s clear you can’t plan these things. They come when you least expect it, when you’ve stopped looking.
As he glances up at me now with that same cheeky smile, cooking his signature risotto on the oven it took us both so long to figure out, I can’t help but envy what’s to come for the Sophie back then.
The sound of pop punk echoes in my eardrums as I turn and see him. See those thick black glasses, so similar to mine, and soft checked shirt that he still wears so well. He asks me my name, but I don’t think he hears it.
I was brave that night. I held on to the feeling and chased it and made it real.
How glad I am to have been somewhere I was never meant to be.