She couldn't find a job up here so she moved back to live at home. Middle distance relationship. I loitered around the flat, stood facing Mike in the kitchen with a cup of tea. His girlfriend had also moved, she lived an hours train journey away.
The quiet reminded me of those days being desperately single. Going to parties with Mike and trying to find someone. Dressed as a gypsy for a circus themed party, talking to a girl dressed as a lion in a cage, and a law student with a top hat. Looking for some hint in their eyes or smile. Playing with a rabbit owned by the girls next door, falling for a girl with curly blonde hair and forgetting her name in the morning. Never seeing her, or any other of those other girls again. We always were popular, always had a laugh. I had a few terrible dates, but never a connection. And then she came along and I never had to do that again. I was thankful.
She had been away for a week or so. I couldn't persuade my flatmates to come to a friends party so I cycled over alone. It was a great party, like before, with lots of weed and alcohol. These were my good friends, and friends of friends. I spend most of the night talking to another girl. We'd done this before at parties. She was lovely and we had great conversation. Sitting on the mini-trampoline she topping up my drink. We scavenged some left over spirits from the kitchen and shared a cup. The party raged around us and we got smaller and warmer.
Talking to an Iranian guy she spilled some on my sleeve and wiped it off, apologizing and holding onto my arm, leaving her little hand there. I rested my palm on her knee.
The Iranian guy was asking about where she was from, her history. She was from Ireland and had danced from a young age. Her dream had always been to be in Riverdance. We went downstairs to smoke and she Irish danced off into the street. Swinging around smiling with joy. She flopping into my arms and laughed. She gives me a lesson. Hard to learn with a cigarette in my mouth. Just moving for the love of expression.
This was how it had always meant to have played out. This was a new offer of redemption, matching the one I had always pleaded for. We held hands as I walked her part of the way home, she pecked me on the lips as we parted. Lips tightly closed, like a family member. Not lustful; this was an offer of pure childish joy, for a sad friend who's girlfriend was out of town. I really did love my girlfriend.
As I cycled away I wondered if she had looked back at me, in the middle distance.