Home > Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5)(10)

Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5)(10)
Author: Gayle Forman

But it’s the introductions that take longer.

Kate is a theater director. Whom Willem met in Mexico, while he was looking for Allyson.

David is her fiancé, whom Willem has never met, who is going on about how good Willem was tonight, the vulnerability he brought to Orlando, what a brave way to play it.

Wren is the friend Allyson met in Paris and bumped into again in Amsterdam. “I wouldn’t have found you if it weren’t for her,” Allyson tells Willem. “I was about to give up but she made me go to the hospital you were at.”

Willem thanks Wren.

Wren curtsies.

W listens to all the introductions and still doesn’t understand.

Neither does Max. “This is too bloody confusing. Can someone draw a chart?”

“That’s not a bad idea,” W says.

“I was kidding,” Max says. “What I really need is a drink.”

• • •

Wolfgang has arranged for a table at a café run by a friend of his in a neighborhood off the shrinking red light district. It is on the Kloveniersburgwal, not far from the bookstore where Willem found the copy of Twelfth Night, and where the bookseller inside told him about the auditions for As You Like It that were happening at the theater around the way.

It takes about an hour for them to get there, because they all walk together, instead of splitting up into taxis and trams and onto bikes. No one wants to be separated. Something about the night feels magical, as if a bit of Shakespeare’s fairy dust has settled over them.

Wolfgang is waiting at the table, along with Winston, a pitcher of beer between them.

Everyone sits down. Allyson snaps a picture and texts it to Dee. Wish you were here.

She is about to put her phone away but then she texts the photo to her mother. I am having the best day of my life, she writes. She hesitates before hitting send. She is not entirely sure how welcome this message will be, from a bar, no less. But she thinks (hopes) her mother will be happy that she is so happy. And with that in mind, she presses send.

Wolfgang has ordered a bunch of food, pizza and pasta and salads. It starts to arrive, along with lots more booze.

Willem has hardly eaten all day and is famished. But Allyson is sitting next to him, and with everyone jammed at the table, she is right up close. And then she slips off her sandals under the table and sort of nuzzles her foot against his.

He loses his appetite, for food anyway.

The conversation is disjointed. Everyone wants to tell their part of the tale, and they tell it out of order and, as the booze flows, with increased drunkenness.

Allyson and Willem sit back and listen to this story.

“I didn’t even know her, but I knew I was supposed to go with her to the hospitals,” Wren is saying.

“I knew something was up as soon as Willem came back,” Lien says.

“Hey, I did, too,” Broodje says.

“No you didn’t,” Henk says.

“I did. I just didn’t believe it was a girl.”

“I knew something was up because he didn’t want to shag Marina,” Max says. She looks at Allyson. “Sorry, but have you seen Marina? Rosalind?” She shakes her head. “Maybe I’m biased because I’d like to shag her.”

The table laughs.

“You have nothing to worry about,” Kate tells Allyson. “He was a miserable mess in Mexico after he didn’t find you.”

“He was even worse after the food poisoning,” Broodje says.

“You got food poisoning?” Kate asks. Willem nods. “The mystery meat? I knew it!”

“I got really sick right after you dropped me off,” Willem says.

“You should’ve called me,” Kate says.

“I ended up calling my ma, in India, and that’s why I went over, so it was a good thing, the food poisoning.” Sickness leading to healing. The truth and its opposite again.

“At least it paid off in the end, because at the time, that Mexico trip seemed like a disaster,” Broodje says. “At that New Year’s party, you were a mess, Willy.”

“I wasn’t a mess.”

“You were. You had girls coming at you and you didn’t want any of them. And then you lost your shoes.” Broodje looks at the gathering. “There were these giant piles of shoes.”

The hair on the back of Allyson’s neck goes up. “Wait, what?”

“We went to this party on the beach, in Mexico. New Year’s Eve.”

“With the piles of shoes?”

“Yeah,” Broodje says.

“And the Spanish reggae band. Tabula rasa?” Allyson asks.

It’s noisy in the bar but it goes quiet for a second as Allyson and Willem look at each other and once again understand something that they somehow, somewhere already knew.

“You were there,” she says.

“You were there,” he says.

“You were both at the same party,” W says. He shakes his head. “I cannot even begin to calculate those odds.”

She’d been thinking of him. But it had felt like ridiculous wishful thinking. Delusional wishful thinking.

He’d been thinking of her, too. In the water, he knew she was close, but not that close.

“I cannot believe you were at that party!” Henk says. “I cannot believe you went all the way there and you didn’t find each other.”

Kate and Wolfgang have only just met. But for some reason, they catch each other’s eyes.

“Maybe they weren’t ready to find each other,” Wolfgang begins.

“And so they didn’t,” Kate finishes.

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