Claire leaned against a wall, sipping her gin, thinking Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes met at a party. The birthday girl, Tara, drank shots at the makeshift bar near the stereo, a line of bottles on upturned boxes. Claire crossed her arms and figured she could slide down the wall without anyone noticing. Unlike for Sylvia, there was no chance of biting a man’s cheek here tonight, although Claire was very very beautifully drunk.
“I hope that’s not water,” a man said.
He was short with a long beard, smurf-like. Claire smiled, shook her head and fumbled for her phone as if receiving a call, but he was already moving on. Tara roared with laughter from the floor, at nothing. Claire tucked her phone away and another man leaned against the wall beside her.
He smiled and held out his hand. “Neil.”
They shook hands. Her cheeks turned pink then flamed red.
“We’ve met before, haven’t we?” Neil said. “Where did we meet?”
“We were young.”
“I mean really young,” Claire said. “Sixteen? Seventeen? In Queen’s Park.”
He drank from his glass, emptied it.
“Do you remember now?” she said.
I remember your bones, she wanted to say. We lay in the space where the boughs of the trees touch the ground. Your hair fell on my face. Your mouth was hot, tasting of cigarettes and Coke. You smelled of Lynx. Both of your hands went around my neck and you could have strangled me, but you looked into my face and said my eyes were like emeralds. I stopped hearing the river, stopped thinking about whether a body floats or sinks.
“I’ve been living overseas. Germany, for the last ten years,” he said.
“Lovely. Where in Germany? Berlin?”
Afterwards, we sat on the swings. You had your feet in the dirt, smoking, while I pushed myself on the swing. Where are you going, Emerald girl? Come back to Earth. I pushed myself higher and higher, flying, gripping the night-cold metal.