Read the first part here
Seeing him through the window, made every last memory flud through. I hadn’t seen him since I was 16, when I had to leave the Philippines, and live with my Aunt. We tried keeping in touch, but by 18, we each had our own lives. He was my past, a part of my past that I didn’t want to remember, it was too painful. He had grown up, handsome in his quirky self. I hesitated, I didn’t want to go inside, it had been over 10 years, and I was still a stranger to this city. I watched him laughing, and memories of us laughing together, getting drunk together popped up.
“Hey, are you going to keep standing there, or are you gonna come in?”
I quickly snapped out of the past, and looked around, it was my colleague. We had all left the office that evening, and were meeting at the pub around the corner from the High Commission. I must had looked a little stunned, because he looked at me and asked “are you feeling well?”
I quickly said “yes, of course, I am fine.”
Garry always had the best smile, we had known each other for years, we could sit for hours talking about politics and the hilarity of the Foreign Service. We were fiercely competitive with each other, and yet, very protective.
Garry flat-out said “good, I need my wingman, I see some good-looking men in there.” I rolled my eyes and laughed.
We entered the pub, grabbed a drink and headed to the corner with the rest of our colleagues. William and I hadn’t made eye contact, he didn’t even recognize me. I was grateful. I sat quietly nursing my beer, while everyone else was having animated conversations. I couldn’t concentrate. I was back in the past, in a different lifetime.
I looked up, William stood there, staring straight at me, mouth open, completely shocked. He slowly found his feet and began walking to me, I got up, everything around me began to swim, and slow down. William grabbed me, hugged me hard. He began speaking rapidly, as if he needed to make sure the 13 years we were apart would quickly be erased. I couldn’t understand what he was talking about. His English accent thicker than I remembered it. I was numb, not knowing what the protocol was, how was I supposed to react, was I supposed to be happy or sad.
Garry must have picked up on my confusion, he quickly came to my side. He smiled at William and blurted out “the little lady looks a little stunned, I am Garry, you must be a Ghost from Christmas past.” William looked at Garry, and laughed and said “quite right, we all need more rounds of beer or maybe something stronger to find our footing on this one.”
I looked around, and excused myself to go to the washroom. It had always been habit, when I need to collect myself, I needed to find a restroom. This was an emergency. I began to lose my vision, my chest began to feel tight, I felt claustrophobic in my own skin. I made it in, went to a stall, and leaned up against the brick wall. Memories of that moment began to hit me. It took me years of therapy, but I had eventually blocked those days of events. I must have been in there for a long time. I heard a knock. I thought it was Garry, but it was William. He came in, a glass of whiskey in his hand, he told me to drink it.
As I looked at him and gulped the whiskey down. he smiled, and laughed “so you still run away into the loo. Some things never change.”
I laughed, tears rolling down my face. He turned around, popped his head out the door, and asked for more whiskey.
It was Kismet, somehow fate brought us back together after all these years. It was like a day had never passed between us. We never needed to talk, we had seen each other through our first miserable dates, getting into trouble after a night of getting into the liquor cabinet, beach vacations with extended family. Our parents had known each other long before we were even born. This time though, there was an unease, like we needed to tell each other something, but yet we couldn’t.
The Whiskey hit me hard, I hadn’t eaten since lunch, and I was starving.
A woman came in, looked at us standing there, still with drinks. We had forgotten we were in the women’s lavatory. I burst out laughing. How many times had William found me in the loo when we were kids? It was almost automatic, I hadn’t changed, and he knew exactly where to find me, and why.
We walked out, my colleagues looking at me with concern. I was tear-stained and tipsy, a combination that non of them knew existed with me. William’s buddies were standing in a corner laughing and shaking their heads, 2 of them came straight for me, picked me up and gave me bear hugs “You must be Nina, William finally ran into you, we have only been hunting every pub around the neighbourhood to finally run into you.”
I smiled, and turned to William “Your Father promised he wouldn’t tell you.”
William looked and smiled “His intelligence gathering is supreme, but his secret keeping is abysmal.”