This moment will come to me later, clear as day, when the thought is unwelcome.
I will see the same scene that I have always seen, that I have been replaying in my head. We are sitting at a table. I ask you a question, the content of which I have forgotten by now. It is something vaguely charming and coy. I bite my straw while I wait for you to answer. You say something that is clever and funny, like you normally do, and I giggle. I tell you something about you that I like. You look at me in your way, and it makes my heart stop. I think there are things you aren’t saying so I try to read your gaze instead.
But the memory will come back to me again, and my field of vision will widen just enough. We are sitting at a table. I ask you a question because the conversation has waned. We have nothing left to say to each other. I ask you a question out of desperation to still appear vaguely charming and coy, although I know I no longer carry any mystery about me. I bite my straw, a nervous habit that I notice you’ve noticed. You say something that is clever and funny, like you normally do, but your tone is half-hearted, and your gaze falls to a past patron’s initials etched onto the tabletop. Your shoes toe the floor beneath us. I tell you something about you that I like because I can’t hold any of my thoughts back. You look at me in a way that says “thank you” with a trace of “I wish I felt the same way about you.” It makes my heart stop. There are many things you are not saying, but I don’t ask because I’ve asked about what’s on your mind too many times already. If it was really important, I guessed you would tell me.
When I look back on it, that moment, however inconsequential it seemed at the time, will haunt me. I will wonder why I could have ever seen it any other way for so long. I will feel stupid for erasing the minutia from the scene, for stripping it of its details and remembering it as I had hoped it happened, rather than how it did. I will see it how I want to see it, until the alterations come apart at the seams and I am left with myself and my hindsight.