It’s cliche, but the stars shon.
The cool summer breeze floated over the ocean. Sand waswedged between our toes. The waves carelessly crashed into the shore. The smellof salt water pinched my nostrels. Fireworks exploded overhead, and distantly Icould hear the party cheering “3, 2, 1, Happy New Year!”
Locked in an embrase so tight with a man I barely knew, Irelaxed my eyelids and allowed every sensation to be controlled by theslightest pressure of his lips.
And it all started with one little word.
“Abigail,” my friend Cara greeted me warmly with a hug. “Iam so glad you turned up tonight.”
Through the little I could see of her house it lookednothing like Cara’s usual upkeep. Vintage furniture that was placed ‘so-so’, asCara would say, was askew with the matching cushions around the lounge thrownall over the place. Canvases that she had painted herself were crooked on thewalls, and empty bottles lined the hallway. The last thing I didn’t think Carawould mind so much – she always found a way to turn nothing into something, andwould have a ball post-hangover creating something out of the fired glass.
“Of corse I’d come,” I said, forcing a smile. “Can’t ring inthe New Year without you, can I?”
Pulling me into the shoe cupboard and shutting the door, shelooked more reflective than I guessed she had the capacity to be given thestrong stench of alcohol on her breath.
“Listen,” she sighed, “I know these past few weeks have beenhard since you broke up with Dave-”
“Dan,” I interjected.
“But you’ve got to get back out there,” Cara slurred, notmissing a beat. “It’s almost been two months and you were too good for himanyway. Just go and have a bit of fun tonight. Let your hair down.”
With my eyes clearly fixated on the floor I let Cara’sspeech wash over me. It was the same nonsence I’d been hearing from everyonesince the break-up, but none of them realized what I was really mourning.
Cara, sensing my hidden discomfort the way only a bestfriend can, laughed. “And each time I see you being a wallflower I am pouring adrink down your throat. Come on.”
Allowing myself to be dragged into the revelry, death byradio music was blaring, but not loudly enough to drown out the garble of fiftyor so drunken voices. Sneaking up behind her, Gareth placed his hands overCara’s eyes.
“Guess who?,’ he joked as she raised her hands to his withthe new ring that adorned her finger sparkling.
“Ga-reth,” she whined. “Have you even said ‘hi’ to Abigailyet?”
“How am I supposed to when you hide her in the closet? HiAbigail, by the way.”
Thinking it might be safer to leave them to their littlelovers quarrel, I slowly made a break for the empty drink’s table.
Pouring myself a glass of bubbly, I sighed. I really justwanted to be at home in my lazy day clothes and slippers, drinking straight outof the bottle. It felt like a more accurate representation of the year ahead –it was exactly how I’d spent my weekends since Dan left. We’d been togetheralmost four years since meeting and becoming friends at Schoolies. Everyoneassumed we’d be the first to get married, but now it seemed Cara would takethat crown. Not that I was mad at her, or even at Dan. I just missed everythingCara has, that I had. Saying ‘I love you’ after sleeping together, and knowingthey’d be there in the morning rather than the bar-boy who has long sincedisappeared by the time the sun comes up. Having someone to go to dinner andthe movies and family outings with. But most of all I just missed being loved.
Fuck I missed so much.
Turning suddenly (and wondering if I was going insane.Asparagus?) I saw the most gorgeous man I’ve ever seen. Baby blue eyes, dirtyblonde hair and a light five o’clock shadow reminiscent of Dr. McDreamy. I forgotwhere I was.
“It’s a weird word. And a weird food,” he continued on.
“Asparagus,” he repeated, “is one of the least used words inan introduction. My name is Malcolm, by the way.”
“Abigail,” I responded in kind.
“Pretty name for a pretty girl.”
Hearing the cliche pick up line, I picked up my drink offthe table and and started to walk out on the terrace as Malcolm tried to catchup to me. Overlooking the beach I leant over the balcony and watched the waves,with Malcolm joining me in a matter of seconds seeming more sombre thanmanwhore.
“I’m sorry Abigail, I don’t know how to do this,” headmitted. “I’m no good at talking to girls. I don’t know how to do it. I was ina relationship for a long time, and haven’t been single for long. I came alongwith a friend of Gareth’s who pointed you out. He gave me some tips which were,obviously, pretty poor.”
I didn’t mean to do it but I laughed.
“Just a little,” I reassured him.
“What I’m really trying to say is... I’m scared but I wantto say hi, that I’m not a bad guy and if you excuse my horrible excuse forflirting I’m great to be around, at least for a night.”