Upon careful observation, her reflection revealed to her the following:
In the two years since she met him last, a grey hair had sprouted. It was defiant and never invisible, however much she tried to hide it. A new pimple on her left cheek, and scars of old ones. An allergy that erupted often, leaving behind angry looking skin. Worry lines that weren’t there before. Her face was different somehow, as though the sorrow had taken root and blurred the contours of her face.
She then spent several minutes deciding what she should wear. Something she felt confident in, something she knew she looked good in, something she knew he liked.
She reached a few minutes early. She wasn’t sure if it was nervousness or excitement, but she seemed to have an unexplainable urge to run to the restroom. Her stomach lurched, as though she were in a roller-coaster perched at the highest point, and was about to come hurtling down. She couldn’t sit still. Her head jerked towards the road every twenty seconds. She tugged her hair, curling it with her index finger, pulling at it until a strand came free. She did this all the time, ever since she was a child. Her mother told her it made her appear vacuous, but the rebuke didn’t come to her mind at that moment.
She wondered what momentous things they would speak of, if they would hug as soon as they saw each other. In her imagination, she always cried. Sometimes they were tears of joy, sometimes they were outpourings of the frustration she experienced in their time apart.
Upon careful observation, his reflection revealed to him the following:
In the two years since he met her last, he had become older, softer maybe, the hair at his temples now flecked with more white than before. He stood staring at his wardrobe – perhaps the bright blue shirt he bought recently, or the dark blue one he knew she’d like? He trimmed his beard, he’d been tending to it the past week, in anticipation of this day. As he put on his shoes, the shoes he expected her to chastise him for -they were far too expensive, she’d exclaim- he paused for a minute. His body wouldn’t settle, the anxiety set off his tics. He tapped his feet and bit his nails, and looked at his tired eyes in the mirror. They told stories of sleepless nights and flights that took him across time zones.
He saw her before she saw him. He noticed the shape of her head, the length of her neck as she turned, the fingers in her lap as she cracked her knuckles. And then she saw him. He watched her as she rose and walked towards him, and hugged him as though she did it every day, even as he worried that they might be strangers to each other by now. She laughed and cried, and led him to the seats by the window in the coffee shop. They would mark this as their spot, and meet here frequently. They sat next to each other, the proximity was familiar and new all at once. It was too much, and it was too little.
They spoke of the weather and the traffic, and the long flight he’d just taken. They argued a bit about what to order as the barista looked on impatiently. There were no momentous things to speak of, it was like they were never apart.
As she walked back home, she thought nothing had changed. She was wrong though. On her face was a smile that wouldn’t quit.
This story was published in the September issue of Pendora magazine.