Party, cigarette in hand, sequinned cocktail dress reflecting the strobe lights.
A hand taps my shoulder but I do not turn. A voice — my own — whispers in my ear, and a hand extends over my shoulder to point at a man across the room.
“He’s the one,” says my voice.
I drag on the cigarette, take him in. He is tall, thin; his face intrigues me. So those are the lips I will kiss, those the hands that will touch me, those the eyes I will understand. To be shown your future before you live it is like looking backwards down a telescope: the closest things seem unreachably far away.
The strobe light flashes and the illusion breaks. The cigarette is a toothbrush, the cocktail dress my old pyjamas. You are no longer in front of me, but behind, looking at me in the mirror as you brush your teeth.
We have been us for eight years now. Tonight, before this, was an evening at home; chess and a bottle of wine. Tonight, after this, will be our bed. Lips, hands, eyes, and then the long, slow stretch of sleep.
At the party nobody tapped me on the shoulder to point you out. I found you myself, and when I approached there was no certainty that our lives would cross for more than one evening. Only now, years later, can I look at you sidelong, throw myself back to that night and relive it as if I knew.
The illusion lasts only a moment, but if I let my mind drift I can bring it back. Then I can hold it, fragile, all the way to bed, and as your body settles into its familiar groove beside mine, I will meet you again for the first time.
Clare Diston is a British writer, blogger and editor. She received her MA in Creative Writing in 2011 and she loves reading (and writing) literary and science-fiction. Her work has appeared in Visual Verse, The Bohemyth and Dissections.