"Flight 27 to New York is now boarding at gate 12. Will passengers row…"
I tuned the rest of the announcement out. I'd given up staring at the top of the escalators, hoping that he'd appear. I'd realised that he wouldn't, exactly 7 minutes ago. That was when the stone weight had settled in my stomach, and I'd started staring at my phone instead, hoping that it would beep with a message. That the message would be from him. With a disgusted sigh I threw my phone into my bag and drew my knees up to my chest. I was angry with myself, for caring. He'd made his feelings pretty clear, when his goodbye had come through Hayden. He hadn't even had the balls to send me a goodbye message himself.
It's his loss. It's his loss. It's his loss. It's his loss…
I tried to believe it. But deep down I knew it was at least a little bit my fault. He'd said he couldn't do it to James, and as much as I hated it, I had to admire him for that. That was one of the reason's I loved him – his loyalty. But I was the reason James was involved in the first place. If only I'd had the balls to say what I'd felt in the first place…I never would have lost him.
But if he'd had the balls to say what he'd felt…I would have realised I'd had something to lose in the first place.
Shifting restlessly again, I tried to push his face from my mind, but everything reminded me of him. I checked my phone again. I still had an hour before my flight boarded. I picked up my battered copy of Harry Potter and tried to lose myself in it. It worked, at least for a little while. Until I remembered how much he used to tease me for being so obsessed with Harry Potter in the first place.
God. He'd even ruined Harry Potter for me.
With fifteen minutes left before I got on the plane and left him and the country for good, I picked up my phone and scrolled resolutely through my phone book. When I found his name, my thumb hovered over the send key. Dial Lucas?
We couldn't leave it like this. Not with so much still unsaid. I would never get over it until I heard him say what I still desperately wanted to know. I couldn't move on until I knew…one way or the other.
Do you still love me?
I still can remember the first time I ever saw him. It was my 19th birthday party. He'd tagged along with his friend Dante, who was one of my friends. I was upstairs finishing up my makeup when my best friend Claire appeared in the doorway.
"People are here!" she called, giggling slightly as she unceremoniously adjusted her top. She'd finished work at 3 that afternoon, started drinking at 6 and had been drinking for the last two hours, occasionally helping while I mucked around getting everything ready.
"Ok. Nearly done." I pulled half my wavy blonde hair away from my face and tied it messily behind my head. Claire thumped her way back up the hall, knocking into the wall and cursing as she poked herself in the face with the swiggly straw protruding from her giant plastic cup of vodka and orange. I laughed. I'd been looking forward to this party. Friends I hadn't seen since school were planning to drop in, and any party with Dante and his mates was a good party. The boy practically threw parties for a living.
I thumped my way downstairs, as best one can in heels, and walked out into my backyard. Claire and I and our other friend Anna had spent the afternoon strategically placing bamboo torches around the yard. The ones Claire had erected were already leaning precariously close to the trees against the back fence, and one had actually fallen over. To my left I could see Dante busy hammering the torches back into the ground. I gave him the thumbs up and turned my attention to the big square table everyone had sat themselves at.
He automatically caught my attention. He looked like Angel from Buffy, only with green eyes instead of brown, and slightly darker hair. His shirt was grey, highlighting the tanned skin of his forearms. As he shifted, I caught a glance of a tattoo on his bicep. He was sitting next to Claire's boyfriend Hayden, who also happened to be Dante's housemate. He glanced up as I walked towards the table, surveyed me with a cool stare for a few seconds and looked away again. He hadn't said anything, hadn't really even moved, but he gave off a vibe of being very unhappy to be at the party at all. He just sat, broody and silent. I raised an eyebrow, mildly irritated. He was the only person at the table who wasn't one of my good friends, and he knew it. The least he could have done was smile, and at least acknowledge he'd crashed my birthday party.
Miffed, I walked over to Anna, who jumped up and grabbed me around the head "Happy Birthday Satch!"
I smiled, trying to untangle my hair from one of the many bangles around her wrist.
"Getting so old Sash," Hayden chortled, tagging another drag of his cigarette. I smirked at him and showed him my middle finger. Dante wandered over, having finished re-erecting the torches. "Where's this free piss?" he asked me, in his thick kiwi accent. I glared at him. "Is that the only reason you're here?"
He gave me an incredulous look. "Um, Yes?"
I rolled my eyes and pointed over my shoulder. "Fridge. Don't drink the corona's, they're dads."
Seconds later, he was back with a corona. I looked at him in disbelief. "What did I just say to you?"
He grinned at me and shrugged, teeth flashing white against his dark skin. I shook my head and took the cup Claire was handing me. Glancing around, I took stock of who had actually arrived. Claire and Hayden, Dante, Dante and Hayden's third housemate James, Anna and her new boyfriend Scott.
"Sit down Satch," Dante demanded, sliding onto one of the bench seats and patting the seat next to him. I slid onto it, grinning as Claire passed me another swiggle straw she'd bought me for the occasion. Mine was blue and had a monkey clinging to the stem. "Sweet. Thanks Claire."
"Aye Lu. You want a beer Cus?" Dante asked, nodding across the table.
"Na I'm good."
I glared at Dante. He glanced at me, puzzled. He must have clicked though, because a second later his face cleared as if someone had turned on the light inside his brain.
"Oh! Sasha, this is Lucas, Lucas, this is Sasha."
I nodded at Lucas across the table. Dante had talked about Lucas before, but I'd never met him. He'd been away for a year, working in London.
"It's Sasha's birthday," Dante added, somewhat unnecessarily considering the giant 'Happy Birthday Satch' banner hanging over the door right behind my head.
Lucas cracked a small smile. "Really?"
Dante looked confused. "Yeah man, didn't you see the giant banner?" he twisted around. "Right there."
I snorted with laughter. Dante glanced at me, confused again. Sometimes I wonder how he even gets dressed in the morning. Lucas looked up and met my gaze and held it, a small smile playing around the corners of his mouth. I gave him an uneasy smile back, quickly casting my eyes around for something else to focus on. There was something about his sulky silence that I found more than a little awkward.
As the night wore on, more and more people turned up. The yard was littered with people by eleven. My sister and her friends, my cousins and their friends, friends from school, uni, work. Almost everyone was drunk and more than a few people were stoned. James was one of them.
"Dude, look at your eyes. They're practically glowing they're so red," I commented as he seated himself next to me at the bar my dad had built. He grinned lazily, watching me as I mixed another round of vodka mixes for Claire, Anna and me.
"Sweet party Satch."
I just smiled at him, shaking my head. "Thanks J."
Besides James being Hayden's housemate, he and I also went to uni together. That was how we'd really become friends.
"Done those formulas you had due?" I asked. James was an engineering major. I was doing a degree in business, majoring in Public Relations and I knew very little about what James did, except that it was fucking hard.
He shrugged. "Some of them. I think I'll get drunk and finish the rest of them."
I laughed, but I was a little panicked. As a nerd, I could only focus on how bad of an idea that was. But James was way to smart for his own good, and even if he were almost comatose and scribbled on a piece of paper with his feet, he'd probably pass with flying colours.
"I'm going to take these out to Clair and Anna, ok?"
James nodded, and I headed back out into the backyard. As I handed Anna her drink, I noticed Lucas standing in a corner near the back fence, almost hidden entirely by shadow. I probably wouldn't have even noticed if the end of his cigarette wasn't glowing orange. I contemplated for a second, then decided I was just drunk enough to attempt a conversation with him. I walked over and stood about a meter away from him, figuring that he wasn't the sort of person who liked others invading his space. In fact, I kind of got the impression that he would really hate it.
"Hey," I said tentatively. "Having fun?"
He glanced at me and said nothing.
I nodded. "You don't have to answer that if you don't want to."
To my surprise, he cracked a grin then. I waited, but he still didn't speak. I rolled my eyes in exasperated amusement.
"Dante told me you never shut up, but seriously dude, take a breath."
Lucas squinted at me and took a drag on his cigarette. I shrugged then, and leaned back against the fence next to him.
"Are you having fun?"
I glanced at him. "Yeah, it's been good. Dante seems to be having fun."
Lucas followed my gaze over to where Dante was standing on the outdoor table with the end of a plastic hose in his mouth, attempting what had to be his 50th beer bong of the night. He gave a low laugh.
"He lives for that shit."
"Yeah I know."
Then suddenly he asked, "You were at that party he had last week, weren't you?"
I was surprised. "Yeah, I was. Were you there? I didn't see you."
I definitely would have remembered looks like yours.
He shrugged, took a last drag of his cigarette and stubbed it out with his toe. "I spent most of the night in the garage."
He stepped away from the fence then, and to my absolute astonishment, offered me a big smile. He had a beautiful smile, complete with dimples and straight, white teeth.
"Have a good birthday Sasha."
His gaze lingered on me for what felt like a fraction of a second too, and then he was gone. I frowned after him in confusion. Fuck, how weird was that guy. I would never have picked him to be such as good friend of Dante's.
As if to prove my point, Dante suddenly jumped off the table and started Cossack dancing in a circle, yelling something at the top of his voice. He had everyone in hysterics, as he did pretty much anytime he did anything. The life of the party and his friend the brooding mystery. So strange.
Claire bounded over then and dragged me off to tell me the latest reason she had for being pissed off with Hayden. I was barely listening, but then I never do. Claire gets angry at Hayden at least twice a week. Sometimes I wondered why Hayden, who was such a laidback guy, ever put up with her.
For the rest of the night I kept catching myself looking for Lucas. I didn't seem him again though, and I was a little pissed off he hadn't even said goodbye.
But as I came to learn, that was a frequent occurrence with him.
"This is the final call for flight 112 to London. All passengers please make their way to boarding gate 8. All passengers, this is the final call for the 6 o'clock flight to London…"
I stood up and shoulder my bag. I couldn't resist taking one last look over my shoulder. He hadn't come. And I hadn't called him.
I didn't have the balls.
Trying not to let the tears in my eyes spill over and down my cheeks, I made my way over to the boarding gate. Half an hour later, the plane taxied down the runway and took off.