she sees his reflection in the mirrors that surround the inside of the restaurant. for a moment she thinks she is hallucinating. she turns. her eyes roam the restaurant, she can’t see him. it’s a saturday evening, he wouldn’t be in town, she muses. she remembers he told her that before they met he traveled out of gaborone every weekend because, as he would say, “i cannot stand this city for more than a week.” since they broke up, just over three months ago, every time life threatens to pull her under, she would come to the restaurant and carry out her special ritual. by the time she was done eating, she would feel calm and regenerated. like she was for him, his presence was calming. they have spoken by phone a few times since the break up, but it was nothing, compared to the calmness she felt carrying out her ritual in what was their favorite restaurant.

***

then she sees him again through the mirrors – walking towards her. she turns around and he is standing beside her – smiling his infectious smile. smelling of soul. he hears natalie imbruglia sing, “i’m cold and i am shamed/lying naked on the floor/illusion never changed/into something real/i’m wide awake and i can see/the perfect sky is torn …”[1] the song that was playing the day they broke up. her eyes follow his to the source of the music. she picks up the phone.

      “oh, sorry, didn’t know you were with someone.” he is looking at the jacket draped over the chair opposite her, and the bottle of bruce cost ginger ale original – placed on a serviette as is his habit. he knows they don’t sell it in the restaurant.

      “it was good to see you.” the song still playing in his head. she busies herself with switching off the music, pretending not to hear him.

       “let me go.” he squeezes her shoulder lightly. and starts to walk off.

       “hun, wait!” he stops. “would you like to join me?”

       “and your date.” he looks around the full restaurant.

      “i’m not with anyone. that’s your jacket.” his heart skips a bit, and his hands start to shake. he thrusts them in his pants’ pockets, and hunches his shoulders. his heart is choking him.

     “and the drink.” she doesn’t respond. they stare at each other. both hearts threatening to burst open their chests. she is wondering how he saw her from the reception. he had looked to their favorite table and saw her. he pulls the chair with the jacket draped over it and sits down. he smells soul off the jacket. he says nothing – the lump in his throat, the size of a tennis ball. he looks at her. she smiles awkwardly, her lips and chin start to tremble and she starts to sob gently. he pushes the chair back and gets up, but realizes if he goes to stand beside her the other diners will know something is wrong. he sits back down, takes her hands and squeezes them. she squeezes his hands – her hands are vibrating. he withdraws his right hand and brings out a handkerchief from his pocket. he offers it to her, she takes it and dabs gently at her face. he waits for her to calm down. he takes her phone, looks up at her, she nods. he presses the home button and inputs his year of birth. he types, then presses “your library”. seconds later he taps the screen and they listen as justin timberlake sings, aren’t you somethin’ to admire?/’cause your shine is somethin’ like a mirror/and i can’t help but notice/you reflect in this heart of mine.”[2] just then, the waitress arrives with her order, two dishes – hers and his.

       “you were always here.” she indicates her heart. his heart …

[1] Imbruglia, Natalie. (1997). Torn. Left of the Middle.  RCA/Brightside/Island/Portrait. 

[2] Timberlake, Justin. (2013). Mirrors. The 20/20 Experience. RCA.

fkregie 2017.