He walks down the beach in the dark. Shadows flash and creep from the quicksilver light of the fireworks over the Mt Lavinia Hotel. The sand is crowded and noisy. Children pointing at the coloured fire that shoots through the sky but doesn’t interest him. Couples stroll, intimately close, hands touching, lips brushing. The slant of a head, the flash of an exquisite smile tugs at his gaze, and he devours her with his eyes. She walks on. It isn’t her. He scans the faces, as he has time after time, looking for her, again and again.
He has looked for her in a hundred faces, hoping, longing for that moment, dreading it. Every trishaw that passes is peered into. Every car.
He lives for that moment, that split-second, into which will be packed a lifetime of love and need. The trishaw is alongside him, and he feasts his eyes on her — the perfect, delicate lips, carved by a God taking extra care — the long lashes that cover dark mahogany eyes that don’t see him — the arch of her eyebrows, the curve of her cheek. He can taste her in that half second, smell her, touch her. The light strokes her hair. And then the moment is gone, and so is she.
He sits at the table on the sand, and drinks his Carlesberg in untasting sips. His friends talk to him and he thinks of her.