Rendezvous with an old flame
The longer I looked into your eyes the more evident it became that we were never getting back to how we were before. It was like I was staring at a complete stranger. Where before we had easy banter was now punctuated by pregnant pauses that weren’t followed by any punchlines… I couldn’t blame you really; I had also transformed in more ways than I could begin to fathom. Yes, there were still semblances of my old self but my reflection was far from what used to be.
Your whole demeanor at best screamed ‘how much longer do I have to be here?’. In addition to your answers and attempted conversation points assuaging but not exactly amiable in any way. It reminded me of the bowl of oxtail soup I’d had moments before you walked in. The soup and meat had been so bland. A far cry from the last time I’d partaken at this very eatery. For a moment I wondered if I had contracted the virus that was spreading like a bushfire. A fleeting thought that I brushed aside once the waiter brought in salacious mashed potatoes. My taste buds were doing just fine. So, there I was savoring every scoop of the potatoes and desperately gobbling the now cold soup.
You coughed. A prolonged intermittent dry cough. I guess in an attempt to break the awkward silence. Then glanced at your phone for the umpteenth time. I wondered if you were willing it to ring or just checking to see the time yet again. I mentally chided myself for arranging this reunion. I should have left things as they were. This was presently a more excruciating experience than being locked in a room full of opossums.
“Have you decided on what to do now that you’ve had to pivot your business model?” I asked.
I had heard from a reliable source that you were struggling with daily operations. A predicament that had been augmented by the pandemic. The talk in town was that your investors were threatening to pull out if you didn’t turn things around within this financial quarter.
I almost gave myself a pat on the back when for the first time I noticed your eyes sparkle and your full attention drift to me as you rambled on giving different scenarios. I mean you lost me by the second point but that was moot given how much life I saw in your expressions, felt in the now tuneful sound of your voice and animated gestures.
After what felt like eons, you finally paused to signal a waiter to refill our glasses. Not missing a bit as you went on talking about the novel partnerships the new route would open. I was greatly irked by how you were currently going on and on about how I needed to switch from working remotely and go to the office like you and the rest of the ‘amenable’ workforce. I wondered if you had always been as obnoxious. I know I was the one who posed the question that led to the discussion on work lifestyle but that by no means meant I should take being berated like a child in stride.
I more than welcomed the distraction of tilting my glass for a refill. As the waiter walked away, you mumbled something about great service being so hard to find these days and how eating out was overrated and a complete waste of time. I couldn’t help but wonder what I’d found so endearing in the past about your snide remarks and comments.