This moment, she thought. This moment is good.
She had had a lot of these small moments- these moments of contentment. She turned to the guy again, not patiently but blankly more than anything. She didn’t care what he was saying. She had already made up her mind about him.
A couple of years younger than her, it shouldn’t have made a difference. But it did.
She had seen more. Far more than he.
And that wasn’t a bad thing.
There was a naivety in his eyes, a freshness to his smile that marked him of a different ilk to her.
She tilted her head slightly as she tapped the ash onto the floor.
She didn’t smoke, she kept saying when she lit up. She had been saying it for the past month.
“Then why are you?” people asked, watching her struggle with the lighter.
She shrugged, thinking of an adequate answer.
“Because it feels good,” didn’t seem to be the right response. “Because I want to. Because fuck it. Shit happens.”
“It’s a faze,” she would mutter instead.
The rum twirled in her glass as the young guy’s words washed over her. She didn’t have the energy to fake a smile so she lifted her chin to indicate she was listening- which she wasn’t. Another lie in her body language.
She patted her pocket suddenly, as though she had forgotten something. “Shit,” she mumbled.
The guy’s rambling paused for a moment. “Everything ok?” he asked, painting a confident smile on his face which she knew he didn’t feel.
Don’t lie to me, she wanted to growl. Don’t lie to me with your movements.
But that sounded insane, and she was lying herself.
She had grown double standards recently.
“I’m supposed to let my sister know if I can babysit,” she said, raising her voice in a tone that said she was disappointed she would have to go and look for it. “Sorry- I’ll be back.”
She stood and hurried away, brushing past the other people at the party. Luckily her phone was charging inside the house, giving her an excuse to escape. She grabbed it and span down the hallway and slid through the front door, cigarette still in hand.
She looked down at it disappointed. It was finished. She threw it on the floor in annoyance, crunching it beneath her foot and sending angry sparks across the cement.
Leaning back against the wall, she pulled out another from the fourth packet of cigarettes she had ever bought in her life.
In her late twenties, it seemed stupid to start now.
She shrugged as her thought echoed around in her head, leaning over her cupped hands to clumsily light another.
She stared at the flickering street lights as the smoke filled her lungs, her hair tickling her collarbone. It was one of those warm windy nights that promised an evening of no sleep, sweating limbs twisted within the covers.
Life had changed dramatically and she was fast evolving. She had changed into someone she felt she hadn’t been around for a long time. She was getting used to it, the words and phrases she used to say spilling out of her mouth years later.
She didn’t recognise what she had been.
The music changed into one of her favourite songs and a small smile twisted a corner of her mouth. Tonight was good. Tonight she was grateful.
People came and went.
And she would evolve.
She stared up at the sky, the darkness peppered with stars. Years ago the romance of the night had been ruined with a scientific explanation in class. She narrowed her eyes, preferring her own lie as to what those small eyes of light really were.
She pushed her phone into her back pocket, not checking her messages. She didn’t care.
It was this moment. This moment was good.