Late afternoon finds itself at a pub filled with loosened tie business men drinking whiskey neat. I laugh myself into a blush when I hold my hand open, offering crumpled quids and various pence for a bartender to count £6 for a beer on tap and another £2 for tip. The bartender is kind and laughs too as he jokingly tips himself another pound from my hand. I find a vacant table tucked away in a corner under the front window. Outside the cobblestone streets resonate sounds of 9 to 5 commuters catching trains and taxis. The sun sets on their faces and I watch the glow reincarnate their silhouettes into ethereal creatures. I am mesmerized by this city of phoenix risings that, until yesterday, I never knew existed. I sit silently and sip slowly at my corner table scribbling experiences and encounters of the day on loose receipts I find in my bag.
Like being suddenly woken from sleep, I abruptly lift my head from jotted notes to notice that the large table nearest to me has accumulated a group of heavy accents and brutish spirits dressed in pressed button downs and shined leather shoes. I realize I have been lost in thoughts for nearly an hour and can't recall when my pint glass emptied. Wanting another but refusing to relinquish my little corner table, I reluctantly lean into the group nearby heated in a conversation of a recent football match. Before my mouth can even purse a "pardon me", you interrupt the stream of conversation and careen your body around another. In a single breath you offer to watch my seat in exchange that, maybe, I find something more interesting than a tap beer to drink. I blush a smiled thank you and discreetly refill a hand with jumbled coins and paper bills as I savor your sentiments.
At the bar I try thinking of "something more interesting", though, I keep finding myself more interested in my curiosity of you. The bartender from earlier jests an eye roll as he folds his arms over the bar. I tell him "I want something interesting". He obliges and offers suggestions of vodka sodas with splashes of this and that or maybe cocktails with drunk slices of fruit. Though eventually, I ambitiously settle for a top shelf glass of champagne. I think this will both impress and intrigue you. I open my fist again and begin picking out recognizable coins to pay but the bartender stops before I'm able to make a full pound. I assume he's going to offer to help count coins but instead he tells me that you've already offered to pay the tab.
The moonlight has mixed with the low lights of the pub and paints sharp corners and jagged faces with dimmed subtleties, casting softened shadows on wood paneled walls. The ambiance liquifies and people with and without empty glasses drink and get drunk on an atmospheric cocktail that I to feel flushed on my cheeks.
When I arrive at my table, my chair is gone, however, noticing you've suspiciously gained an empty chair. I inquisitively bend down, leveling my face to yours, and ask about the mysterious seat. You tell me you were watching my seat but you noticed a girl sitting alone and being taken by here, you needed a reason to invite her over. I laugh, humoring your guise, and setting the glass of champagne on your table ask if this any bit "more interesting". You hide your smile behind a smirk as I find my new seat next to you.
We excitedly bound through basic questions of who, what, when, and where that grow into unanticipated deep conversation.
As you talk, I imagine you as a wall covered in layers of varnish. Canary yellow painted edges that curl in, exposing years of blue and green hues that you seem to have tried to hide. I see those colors when you speak about your estranged sister in Surrey or when your hand timidly reaches for mine before it abruptly pulls away or when you recall fond memories that only exist before you wore business appropriate attire. I tell you about the house I grew up in with a yellow walled kitchen and how you remind me of familiar things. Chips of paint fall to the ground of the pub nestling themselves amongst discarded peanut shells and small pools of spilled beer as a smirk reveals your smile.
Time left us two bottles of champagne earlier, so, forgetting that the last train out of the city leaves just before midnight, we fill our empty glasses with a third.
I excuse myself to the restroom as you pardon yourself to pay the tab. Fixing the lipstick I'm wearing in the mirror, I overhear someone mention it's a quarter past eleven. I'm suddenly sobered by the awareness of time and hurry down the stairs to rush a goodbye to you. You wonder why I'm rushing until I inform you of the time. Grabbing my hand, I can tell you wished we had more.
I grab my coat pushing my chair in when you ask if you can take me to the train. I don't hesitate a yes.
We hurriedly walk the cobblestone streets with your hand holding mine, the side of my body pressing into yours as it begins to rain. Your leather shoes splash in puddles gathering in the dips of pavement pulling me under old marquees and through alleyway tunnels. We run through the city sometimes stoping to laugh at our ironic romantic situation until we reach the station.
We stop at the stairs to the train, our laughter ceasing, as we stand fixated on one another in the rain. I worry I will begin to see glimpses of a canary yellow wall but my thoughts are disrupted when you grab my waist, pulling me in, and press your lips to mine. We kiss until my train arrival is announced over the speakers. I pull away, kiss you one more time, and then catch the last train out.