“Have space for one more?”
“Of course” A smile placed itself on her lips, her initial surprise dissipating and replaced with a familiarity.
There was a peaceful silence that laid itself out between them, neither one bothered by it, as if it existed as a sign of peace and tranquillity that had been missed in both lives. For her, the calm silence meant that she was comfortable enough to be with this person without having the need to speak and in turn, leave once the conversation waned. But all silences were made to be broken, the entrance into conversation sparking interest into her heart once again, as it had before.
“You never told me you were a singer.” The sentence was a question but sounded more like a statement, hidden emotions shrouded by the phrasing of it. Not paying attention to detail, she missed the slight hurt that was seeping from the corners of the words, the host being unable to hide his dismay either way.
“I’m not. This is more an occasional hobby.” She smiled again, dismissing the slight compliment with a flick of her hand.
“Why don’t you take it up as a professional occupation?”
“I don’t like the intimacy.” She paused, as if considering her next words but decided against it, continuing, “Once I begin, my anonymity will be gone and I’ll have to have a limelight shine on me for the rest of my life.”
“Privacy.” He nodded to himself.
“Exactly.” For the first time in this conversation, she turned to face him and he did the same.
“Can I ask another question?” She nodded in return and he paused, debating over how to phrase it.
“How-…Why do you come to these parties alone?” The question seemed to come as a surprise, and she broke her gaze to look back at the river, which continued to flow in trickles showing that it was still in its beginning stages.
The silence came back and unlike the first, it was marred with loneliness. The night seemed to grow stronger, the gentle breeze now a chill, creeping and wrapping itself around them as if it wanted to comfort them yet only brought them distance and it was harder to hear either speak or breathe. The grass beneath their feet rooted them down but trapped their sadness within their soul and the air began to suffocate them. Her loneliness took over the both of them that it became nauseating but neither could leave. What caused this? He pondered to himself, unable to mask his concern. But the haze that strangled them soon left, as if it were dragged away by the trickles of the stream ahead of them and at once, they felt each other relax, the strain that she had placed upon herself and subsequently him had loosened its hold.
“Sorry, I-.” She dismissed his apology with her own.
“It’s my fault…I haven’t let it go yet.” She shook her head and sighed deeply, as if this would release whatever had took hold of her soul. He waited for her to continue, giving her time to calm down for her own sake if not for his.
“I’m waiting for a past mistake.” It was vague but she lifted her hand to signal that she hadn’t finished.
“I’m waiting for a person who has caused me harm in the past.” Once again, she looked lonely and distant, yet the feeling wasn’t projected this time, as if her composure somehow blocked the effects.
“Why would you subject yourself to that kind of harm again?” He was wrong for prying but the intrigue of unspoken words made him curious; nosy.
She didn’t seem to mind as she spoke again, turning her head to face him once again, “A person that can destroy you is capable of putting you back together.”
He blinked back surprise, but she managed to see the briefest glimpse of it. He decided to bite his tongue, not willing to peer further into her life as if he were intruding on sacred ground. She observed his internal thoughts fumbling and twisting but if there was any darkness between the layers, she didn’t find it.
“How about you?” She asked tentatively, as if it were wrong to pry into another person’s life after lifting the lid on hers. Her burdens weren’t another’s, after all.
“You know that this isn’t a masked party, don’t you?” She said in an attempt to lighten up the mood. This earned her a small smile, and a dry laugh.
“Just like you, I enjoy my anonymity.” Gesturing to her mask-less face, he added, “Obviously more than others.”
There was a small pause again and she felt the conversation starting to wane, and in a desperate attempt to clutch at the small strings of interest left, she asked another question.
“What are your hobbies?” It was a boring ‘get-to-know-each-other’ question but the only one she could think of.
“I don’t have any.”
“Then what do you do in your spare time? Breathe?” It wasn’t meant to be a joke, in fact it was meant to be a jab at his thoughtless answers but it caused him to burst out into laughter as if it was the funniest thing he had heard the entire night. She arched an eyebrow and his laughter died down.
“No, I just- I wouldn’t consider what I do as a hobby.” She gestured for him to continue.
“I…experiment?” He hadn’t meant to phrase it as a question but he wasn’t a very interesting person by nature.
“Are you asking me?” He shook his head and smiled.
“No…I just don’t think it’s all that interesting.”