This is the first/last (I haven't decided yet) chapter of a little project I have of a short story I'm writing.
It was his birthday! So naturally, being a fellow with few friends, there had to be a party. Emaline had gathered all of her friends to come and wish him a happy birthday in between questioning whispers about who the hell he was, then they proceeded to drink. Then drink, and drink a bit more. But he couldn’t, he had an inability to achieve inebriation amongst such sobering company. Emaline had left him with a smile, then gone to mingle with her friends at HIS party! He had to sit down somewhere.
"Well here is a surprise, there is a party in his name and so we find William sitting on his own." A horrendously accented voice spoke down to him. He looked heaven bound and in his way he found the unfamiliar figure of Constance looking down at him, with an unfamiliar glass grasped in both her hands- as if she was holding on for dear life. A cheer of absent friends! resounded around the room; there weren’t any absent friends. He didn’t have any friends, they probably mocking that fact. "To absent friends, not that we‘re missing anything but he is." He briefly and weakly offered his glass to the toast as precariously Constance sat, careful not to disturb the liquid in her hands.
"You always were clumsy…" He jibed playfully.
"You always were socially retarded." She smiled, as they sat apart from the gathering. He mouthed the word touché with a mocking defeatist look. "A lot of friends you have here."
"They’re Em’s, she found I didn’t have anyone to invite so invited her friends. It’s her party really." He winked tiredly.
"Don’t wink at me." She giggled. "You look ridiculous."
"I was just proving I could, really."
"Yeah… You always were pretty shit at it." She said awkwardly.
"I learned!" He said brightly, as if it was an intensely important thing prompting a slight tap of glasses between them- she still held her glass with two hands as she did so. "So, no Christopher?"
"Um, no. He’s not your friend so he didn’t want to come. But then, these people aren’t either so maybe he should’ve…"
"Nice. Thanks." He grimaced. "How are you two?"
"We’re okay, thanks. The holiday was a blip, but we’re okay."
"Oh?" he goaded.
"He tried to ‘sex me up’ as he tried to put it." She smiled her smile, they both laughed. "Yeah, it was odd."
"Where’d you go?"
"Torquay…" She trailed off.
"And you refused him? He sounds like the born romantic." He offered a consoling smile between chuckles.
"He was not best pleased." She smiled.
"Well if there’s ever a place to be ‘sexed up’ it’s Torquay, so I’m not surprised."
He looked at her as a silence formed, she brushed some curled brown hair from her face. She smiled a sheepish smile at him, she sort of smile he had missed- her scarlet lips curling into a crescent accentuated by her pale skin. Her skin continued to her breast where it was hastily covered by a slender black dress and a light blue cardigan. Her hands. She had pianists fingers, that’s what he always used to tell her, long and slender. Soft. Now wrapped around a shaking glass. She was nervous. He drew closer, so he could smell her typically French perfume. He had always loved her scent, the way it was only apparent when close to her and the way it always meandered around his senses- leaving him helplessly devoted.
"I read your article…" She said at length, "it was beautiful."
"So are you." He breathed. Almost together they burst out laughing.
"I knew you’d say that." She grinned, biting her bottom lip somewhat.
"Honestly, Constance, your vanity is appalling!"
"My vanity!" She exclaimed. "Maybe you’re just predictable." She dug a joking elbow into his ribs, still careful not to disturb her drink.
"I suppose this is where I say something incredibly charming and sweep you off your feet. Then we run away from this wretched party together?" He probed.
"I’m not that drunk yet…" She giggled, averting her gaze.
"I wasn’t aware you were drunk, I’ve never seen you drunk."
"You’ve never seen me drink." She shot her chestnut eyes at him. No matter her mood, her eyes were always bright and full of life. Full of the Parisian culture she was born from. "Two years is too long, Will…" She spoke earnestly now.
"Or not long enough." He said jokingly. At this she put down her glass and cuffed him playfully.
"You’re in trouble, you know that?"
"Oh I do. Don’t hurt me." He said weakly, mockingly.
"Seriously," Her face was deadly serious now. "I’m going to beat the shit out of you."
"Maybe we should take this outside then?" He suggested, still laughing slightly from the way she butchered the word shit: sheet.
There was silence. Not an awkward silence. A comfortable silence. Constance was trying her best to seem completely sober, she disguised her stagger by holding on tightly to William’s arm. O’ the irony! He thought. Her heeled shoes made it increasingly difficult for her to stay upright, and she was intent on taking him down with her. But a captain should always go down with the ship, right?
"What was that name you always had for me?" She broke the silence, looking up at him expectantly. He stopped them, to answer the question and to be able to stare down into her eyes.
"Name?" he questioned.
"Yeah, y’know, you always used to call me something."
"Constant… Constant Constance." he smiled at the memory. She mirrored his reaction.
"That’s it." She beamed. There was a moment, a brief moment, where they both disappeared back into memories. Where they walked through the same park, laid on the same grass and shared the same feelings. For the briefest of moments. Then, they were back. She buried her head into his chest, embracing more the memory than the figure that stood before her. "I’ve missed you." Came the muffled sound of her voice. "You know that right?"
"I didn’t." He whispered.
"Well, now you do." She began to sob, and he tightened his grip. A moment. Another moment, that’s all it was. "I better go." She said, pulling away and turning before he could speak. She slowly stepped away, as if waiting for the words to form for him.
"You love him?" He called after her.
"Yes…" She said without turning. She became aware of him though, the heavy sound of his footfalls on the cobbles. His stressed and laboured breathing.
"And you’re happy?" He was closer now.
"Y-yes. I’m happy." This was said with equal uncertainty to her first answer, tears were forming in her eyes that she tried to wipe away. But William caught her wrist and spun her to him. Forcing her to look into his eyes, the dark pits that had no discerning border between iris and pupil. How many times had she been lost in those eyes? She didn’t know. "Very happy…" She tried to say with more authority and certainty. But her heart was leading her mind in another direction, his soft grip on her wrist had prompted her to have a soft grip of his face. She carefully traced his jaw line, feeling the soft waves of hair upon it.
"So you’re happy?" He said, unsteadily.
"Yes. Very." She was adamant.
"Good." He said, looking down into her eyes. Have you ever seen two eyes so shiny? he thought. He moved his hand from her wrist to her waist, carefully creasing the material in his hands. Her marvelled at the softness of her touch as she caressed his cheek. "I’m happy for you." The last of his words had trailed off and she grasped at them and pulled them back for him. He pulled her closer and she gripped harder. The means were pulling slowly to an inevitable end. He had known the moment he looked up at her from his bench that he still loved her, the she remained in his verse and verbs and consonants, she remained in the words he spoke every day. His constant Constance. It seemed like the clichéd moment of staring into each other’s eyes lasted forever, both of them willing the other to move.
She lost patience, she moved closer and wrapped her arms about his neck and in slow deliberate movements moved towards him. Avoiding his gaze playfully, a smile spread across her face. She was fifteen again, for a moment. Their faces circled about each others, but at length she closed on him. Parting her lips to kiss him. It did not linger, it was not full of passion. It wasn’t a kiss like you see at the end of those darn awful romantic comedies, for one thing it wasn’t raining. It was tender. Yes, he thought, tender. As soon as it began it was over, not before the normal clichéd eternity passed. Her lips stuck slightly, allowing the moment to persist for a few moments. He moved to speak but she placed a finger on his lips to pray silence.
"I don’t think we’re quite suited for happy endings…" She smiled apologetically. "Not anymore." She kissed him sweetly on the cheek and then left his grasp. "I’ll see you in two years, I guess"
"I hope not." He smiled awkwardly.