I stepped onto the crowded basement and looked at the long queues in front of each toilet cubicle. Areba had just finished playing his final set and hundreds of young people had descended into the basement of the parking lot to relieve themselves after a trippy electro-house gig.

I looked around, trying to find a cubicle with a shorter queue, sensing the urgency in my bladder. And then, I saw him.

“I can’t do this. I want you to stop contacting me, or my friends. I want you to leave,” the words rang in my ears, as the last image of him walking away came back to my mind. I had stood there for a long time, waiting for him to turn around to see if I was still there. He had stopped once. But he hadn’t turned. I had watched him fade away into the distance. I had spent the evening sitting on the sidewalk, empty of any feelings, my mind empty of thoughts, staring blankly at the traffic.

I felt the blood drain from my body again. My hands were shivering, my legs had gone numb under my weight, I could feel the sweat on my palms.

He put his arms around the girl standing next to him, both laughing hard over a topic I would never know. He suddenly looked over his shoulder. Our eyes met. I turned around immediately. I could feel his eyes bear into my back as I walked away, or so I imagined.

The memory of me sitting on the sidewalk was from three years ago. Even though we still lived in the same city, in fact, barely a mile apart, we had somehow avoided bumping into each other for three whole years.

Until today.

Areba was not his choice of music. He didn’t listen to electronic music. Perhaps, it was the girl. It didn’t seem like he had dragged himself to the gig though. He looked happy; like he had had a good time. Or so I imagined.

I started walking in the opposite direction as quickly as my dead feet would carry me, when one of his friends caught up with me.

“HEY! I thought it was you,” he said, giving me a tight hug, “How have you been?”

I squirmed. I don’t know why. I wanted him to let me go. But I also felt a warm rush through my veins to have those familiar arms around me after such a long time. I couldn’t recall his name.

“I’m okay. How’s everything at your end?” I mumbled.

“We are all good, but you disappeared into thin air,” he replied, “You know some of us tried calling you.”

I did not. I was asked to leave. I was asked never to get in touch again, with anyone.

“Yeah, I had an emergency back home. So I quit my job and went back,” I said, laughing nervously.

“Emergency?” putting his arms around my shoulder again. “Is everything okay now?”

“Yeah, perfect. That was three years ago,” I said, digging my head into his chest for a split second. Yeah, that felt good.

“Aww, come here now. We’ve missed you,” he said.

I turned and looked at Him. He still had his arm around that girl, with his back to me.

“Yeah, well,” I scoffed.

“I got to go pee. I’ll see you around,” I freed myself from his arms and walked away without saying goodbye.

I left the building and started walking toward home. Tears were rolling down my cheeks but I could not lift my arms to wipe them.

I could not walk any further. I sat down on the sidewalk. I saw his group at some distance, getting into a car. The doors shut. They drove away. I was crying.

I looked around me. This was the same sidewalk where I had sat for hours a few years ago. I got up and left. I did not look back.

Eternal escapist, in love with books, football, and long drives. Follow me on IG @ komorebi5

Eternal escapist, in love with books, football, and long drives. Follow me on IG @ komorebi5