A Brief Affair

Is this the bus? Feck, no, its the thirty-eight. Happy thoughts, Cillian. This is the first morning of a great three days. Seventy-two hours of… not craic, more than craic. Of… bliss. Bliss? Sounds weird. Joy? Ah, I dunno. What’s this? The sixteen; that’s the one– shit, where’d I put me change?

‘How much to the airport?’

‘Four ten.’

Feck.

‘Eh, I’ve… three, three eighty, three ninety — is that ok?’

‘Go on…’

‘Cheers!’

Fuck sakes, you’d swear I asked for his kidney, such a look! Right, which seat, no, not there, the state of yer woman, jaw hanging off her… no other seats? Jaysis its jammers in here, ah, upstairs so, I’m better off, I’ll see the sights. Right here I — whup — steady on driver! Now, I’ll plonk down here, near the front. Jesus, me knees are all scrunched up, can’t lounge. No fear of me falling into a doze. That’s a good thing at least, need to stay awake. God, imagine if I nodded off and missed the stop? She’d be there waiting with her luggage like a gomey for hours. We don’t want that, that’d be no good to anyone.

Now, how am I looking, phone out, camera on. Hmm, not too bad, not too bad at all. I did a tonne of press-ups this week in fairness. Barber did a good job yesterday so he did. Good clean shave too. And the new shirt is looking well. Crisp. Between the new threads and the whiff of Hugo Boss she’s bound to be impressed. Well, as impressed as she could be. Look, you can only play the hand you’re dealt: she likes the personality, the charm. Rural Ireland strikes back, ha ha. I should’ve borrowed a car though, feck sakes. This ‘collecting’ her by bus craic is not ideal, not fucking ideal at all. Best not to mention this part to the lads afterwards. The slagging would be atrocious. She’ll think I’m an awful peasant. Fuck it, I’ll play the affable paddy card and hope for the best. Haven’t much choice! Ara, it’ll be grand: when she sees what’s in this little box she’ll be chuffed.

Sakes: look at them houses, row after row of them. Estate after estate. So uniform, so ordered… so grey. That’ll be me in what… ten, fifteen years, maybe? If I keep going with this accountancy malarkey. God: the wife and the child, with another on the way, screaming and nappies and a big ignorant hoor of a mortgage. Grey alright, grey as fuck. Could it be bearable somehow? If I found the right girl? Maybe this Welsh woman? Ho, ho, ho, stall the digger chief — don’t get ahead of yourself.

Jaysis, I wonder what it is about Welshmen though, that has her coming over here like this? Is she a bit crazy? A bit tapped in the head somehow? She’s gorgeous, stunning, all the other lads agreed that night I met her. Still hard to believe she went for me. Haha, out of all of us! And Foxy there chatting the arse off her. Ah no, she’s not mad, she couldn’t be. We met, we hit it off, and here we are. Strange things can happen. Can’t they? They can. It’ll be grand. Sure we’ve been messaging the whole time since that night. What is it, three weeks? We’re meeting again now, we’ll hit it off like we did before and we’ll have a great weekend. Her flight home is Sunday afternoon, plenty of time for– But she’s so hot, why does she feel the need to– Feck, here we are. Where’s that little red button?

‘Stop!’

Clunk down the stairs — shit — take it easy, don’t want to break a sweat, only so far that after shave will go.

‘Cheers.’

You grumpy bollocks of a driver. F-f-feck, it’s Baltic! Right here I am, I need to get to… to, to, to… terminal one, where is it? Ah, there it is.

God, I wonder what she’ll look like today? She looked pretty damned good in the Facebook photos afterwards. The head on Tadhg when I showed him; the jaw dropped. Like a young Catherine Zeta Jones, he said. And the lads wouldn’t shut up all week; it’s not just my imagination. Long legs on her, long wavy dark hair, right down to her curved hips and tight little– shit, I hope her flight’s in on time. Don’t fancy fluttering about here for too long. But those eyes! Big and brown and blinky. And the eyelashes on her, all glimmery and flirty. Imagine them, looking up from– Jesus, I’m jittery enough. Brave man with the drink on board; now look at me in the cold light of day. I should’ve had a shot of whiskey or something. Calm the old nerves. Look: just survive until lunch. We’ll get drinks with that.

Here we go, ‘Arrivals.’

Quiet enough in here, lets see… café, restrooms, escalators up to Departures, trolleys, a small crowd gathering over there. That must be the gate, now where is that little screen with the flight times– Jesus, Mary and Holy Saint Joseph there she is with her little wheely suitcase. The strut on her. God, she’s hotter than I remembered. She’s scanning the crowd now. Ok, man up. One, two, thr–

‘Hello there, Cillian!’

Here we go, should I peck her on the cheek?

‘Hiya!’

Hiya? What the f– Hug rather than peck?

‘How are you?’

‘I’m grey-and, ahem, I’m grand. How was the flight?’

Did I just give her a thumbs up?

‘Just a second. Airport Selfie!’

Now, smile damn it, smile like there’s no tomorrow. That’ll make up for the thumb. At least she didn’t notice it. Or did she? Feck getting the bus back into town, she’ll think I’m an axe-murderer. We’ll get a taxi. The cost! It’ll be worth it, think of the lovely, steamy, shuddering– a frown? Is she frowning? Does she want me in this selfie at all? What do I do? This is awkward, just lean in. Okay, no, I’ll just stand here so…

‘So. You look beautiful.’ Shit I should’ve said ‘stunning,’ more masculine.

‘Thanks, Cillian. Shall we go?’

‘Eh, of course.’ What, no kiss?

‘Where are you parked?’

‘Eh, I don’t have the car. The brother has it. In Sligo.’

‘Oh…’

‘But we’ll get a taxi, never fear!’

Shit, this is plummeting. Rapidly. Quick, the box — that’ll fix it! That’ll fix the whole lot.

‘I got you this. For your birthday. Remember, you told me it was your birthday? Like, last week. Or the week before that? Its silver. The real McCoy! It cost eighty euro, would you believe that? You like dolphins! I know you like silver, you mentioned it that time, and I thought: a silver necklace of winking dolphins…’

‘Haha. That’s… nice…’

Oh fuck. She does think I’m an axe-murderer. What the fuck are we going to do now? For three days?

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