Vignette:At Long Last

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At Long Last
1450 Erevani Street, Yūksekent, Federal Republic of Somkartvelia
November 26th, 2021

lass reunions weren’t Valeri’s thing. Social gatherings in general weren’t his thing. It boggles his mind to no end when he asks himself why he’s here.

They could have scheduled it for tomorrow when it’d be a Saturday. Instead, they had to push it back to Friday night because “oh, I have to leave for Seratof first thing in the morning tomorrow. I don’t want to miss my flight!” or whatever bullshit excuse they came up with. Now he’s stuck staring out of a balcony in his shabby office attire with an empty beer bottle in hand. Everyone’s here to show off how well off they’ve become with all of their designer clothing and pricey jewellery, while he’s stuck with plain khaki slacks and a scruffy dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up. God, he feels awful.

“Enjoying the party?” Elisa’s curt smirk makes a mockery of him. “You’re Valeri, right?”

She’s dressed up for a banquet, not a class reunion. Her off-white dress flows around her like a spring breeze yet clings to her shape tightly like frost. The heels confuse him for a brief moment; she wasn’t as tall the last time he met her. She’s sporting a new hairdo that pops out like a sore thumb. The earrings catch his eye, and so does her necklace.

“Elisabed? The last time I saw you, you were on the front page of the business papers.” He raises an accusing finger at her, bottle in hand. “You’re making a name for yourself.”

“Are you gonna ask me for connections? Curious about the high life?”

“You’re still jumping to conclusions too quickly, I see.”

“For an office worker that’s been worked to the bone, I’m noticing a lack of opportunism in you.”

“Grasping at straws? Me?” He gives off a small chuckle. “I’m too tired to.”

The two look out into the sprawling expanse of Yūksekent. Warmly lit roads and sprawling buildings stretch out far as the eye can see; it’s as if he were an ant on a woven blanket. The cool autumn winds that gently brush his hair are a reminder that he’ll be seeing the snow plough and shovel tucked away in his garage soon.

“How’s work?” She tries to break the ice that’s rapidly formed. “You work at the Observatory, right?”

“I just figure out when the rain comes.” That’s a vast oversimplification, and they both know it.

She teases him a little bit more. “I’m sure you do more than that. When’s the first snow?”

“Tonight.” His delivery is deadpan.

As if on cue, a single snowflake falls on her head before the rest come tumbling down tenderly.

“This is just getting unrealistic.” He sighs as he sweeps the lone snowflake off of her head. The party quiets down for them; the impromptu karaoke bar fades away, and so does the unabating clinking of glasses and incessant rabble. For a moment, it’s just Valeri, Elisabed, and the cold front.

“It’s been too long, hasn’t it?” His pained smile is visible behind his breath.

So is hers. “Far too long.”

It feels like spring again as he wraps his arms around her.

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