Reality can be so easily obscured by some time apart, some distance and a little inebriation.
"I would still like to see you sometimes," he had said when they broke up. But he was also the one who disappeared for an entire month thereafter and she had been the one to suggest meeting up. How about drinks after work, the text had said.
She couldn't admit it to anyone, but there were days when she would be on her way home and foolishly hoped that he would be waiting outside the turnstiles, hands stuffed in his pocket, dressed in his trademark leather jacket and bandanna tied around his head. Just like before.
But tonight was different, because he was turning up.
She gave a little wave, and he smiled and made awkward conversation.
They headed to the popular pub near the station, and shared a pizza and drink like they always did.
It didn't take long before her usual verbosity kicked in and she was talking about how she felt about being in Japan, about her fear of going home, about feeling displaced wherever she went. He listened and made the occasional comment, and under the soft glow of the lights he seemed unusually kind.
He told her he had been travelling with an old friend visiting from the US. Nikko, Kyoto, Nara, he informed. Places we were supposed to see together, she thought to herself with irony. Still she didn't ask for more details, choosing instead to fill in the blanks.
They sat facing each other in the tiny corner, their thighs resting against each other, and their hands would occasionally brush against each other. He doodled on the napkins with the pencil used for taking orders, but it never occured to her that he might have been nervous.
There was always that sense of what now, but she knew better than to invite him over.
Close to midnight, they stood up to leave.
Outside the pub, out in the cold, she wanted him to hold her. Instead, she shoved her hands into her pockets.
"Are you okay getting home?" he asked.
"I guess," she giggled, tipsy. "You're heading this way to take the train," she pointed to the left, and then to the front, "I'm heading that way."
The green man was flashing, so they quickly hugged, and he kissed her on the cheek. By the time they let go, it had turned red. "How's that for the world's fastest traffic light?" she joked.
And so they hugged again, and feeling bold, she whispered into his ear, "I miss you, and I'm sorry things didn't work out." He looked her in the eye, with an intensity that left her weak-kneed and then he kissed her again, this time on her lips. His hand went to the small of her back, and she allowed herself to fall into his arms.
"Friends?" she asked, and he nodded with a hint of a smile. They kissed again, on the lips, and then again.
The green man flashed.
"I'll see you around," she said, waving him off. With that, she ran off in the direction of her apartment.