She'd sauntered into the cafe, the heels of her black boots clacking loudly against the floor, and strode purposefully to the till - past a man and his son at the ice-cream counter, past two girls in the middle of choosing their poison from the deli counter, not bothering to ask if they were in the queue. The man saw that she'd jumped ahead and quickly signalled that he was there first.
Sheepishly, she stood behind the two girls. She looked over at the man and his son, wondered why anyone would have ice-cream on this cold, grey Cambridge day, sporadic rain pouring from the skies at random intervals. Then she saw pistachio; she saw two balls of greenish brown ice-cream in a cup; and in her mind's eye, she saw him, on the hottest day of the year, standing outside the cafe behind the ice-cream cart.
She'd just finished her first session of tennis in the morning, and she was still in her tennis outfit - a pleated white skirt rounded off with a few inches of black at the bottom, paired with a matching sleeveless collared top, adidas by Stella McCartney. She'd gone for her daily caffeine fix, and when she him outside, she stopped, said hi.
He offered her some ice-cream. 'Would you like some ice-cream?' She said the usual thing about her weight, not wanting to get fat; he might have thought her ridiculous for thinking herself fat, especially dressed in an extremely form-fitting tennis outfit.
She tried a couple of flavours anyway. 'Which one is your favourite?'
'My favourite?' he said. 'Pistachio.'
He, of course, would have given her ice-cream if she'd wanted it (he offered to make her an affogato when she said that she really needed coffee). She didn't like his favourite flavour; but she liked talking to him. She liked it very much.
A few hours later, he texted her, 'You look incredibly hot in your tennis outfit.'
And so it was the pistachio ice-cream that did it. Of all the flavours that they could have chosen, the man and his son chose pistachio. I looked at those two balls of ice-cream, innocent ice-cream, and I thought of that hot summer afternoon, before anything else happened, when we were just two people navigating an obvious mutual attraction. How easy it was back then; how easily he made me smile.
I miss all of that; more to the point, I miss him. My sentimentality has actively vacated my rationality and all I can feel, and hence think about, is his absence. It feels like a missing jigsaw piece when he was so present, even if peripherally, for the past year.
I miss him. I want to see him. But I am so afraid. I don't know what I'm afraid of. All I know is that I miss him - and it's all the pistachio ice-cream's fault.