“May I”? He asked her finally.
“Sure,” she turned around and let him join her at the bar counter.
He ordered a drink. With a side glance, he watched her askance.
She was nodding her head to the tune of some song and was humming along with it .
She stirred her drink and smiled a little. She was conscious of him looking at her.
“You like The Smiths? They’re one of my favorites,” she lowered her head as she spoke.
“Yup. I like them,” He replied.
“And I like this time, specially.”
“What, 10 pm?” she had her eyebrows raised.
“No. The 80s.”
“Because it was the best time.”
“Was? Hmm…” she looked at him from head to toe as if to study him and asked again, “Why so?”
“Well. You know, the rock music. People becoming more open-minded. Technology was changing. TVs and later, computers coming in…, and there was some innocence in these times” he scratched his head and continued speaking.
“In 90s, we had FRIENDS as well.”
“Well, that’s true. But then, no Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. No Twitter,” she responded.
“No virus pandemics either.” He completed.
“Wait a minute! How do you know about the social apps from the future?” He said with a surprised look.
“Well, you think you’re only one who can travel?” Her left eyebrow went up and down like a wave.
He smiled and the edges of their glasses kissed.
“I didn’t’ ask. What’s your favorite time?” He turned his chair to face hers.
“2040s.” she answered instantly.
“2040! Wow. I don’t get it. I keep coming back here for the love of simplicity and the tranquility of this time.”
“Why 2040s?” He stared at her.
“You’ll know.” She smiled and gulped down her drink.
He pondered over that for a minute before turning back to her.
“I do not see how a girl from the 80s be in love with 2040s. I mean I live in 2020. And It’s terrible.
I can only imagine how 2040…”
“It’s beautiful,” she interrupted. “And I like it precisely for the same reasons that you keep coming here for.”
“For ‘the simplicity of…?’ I don’t get it how 2040s can be beautiful.”
“Yup.” She stared at him for a few seconds before speaking. “It’s a different kind of beautiful to be honest.”
“Tell me more. I don’t think I can wait for ten long years to figure it out.” They both had pulled the chairs closer as he spoke.
“Ever heard of post-apocalyptic world?” She said.
“You mean there’s been a world war? The world’s come crushing down?” he almost kept his drink away.
“When was the last time the world was not crushing apart, eh?” she retorted.
“Agreed,” he said, still impatient to hear more.
She could sense his curiosity and decided to push him a bit more.
“Shots?” she tapped her fingers on the bar table and looked at him for an answer.
“I’m not getting more out of you that easily, am I?”
“Nope!” Her cheek sported dimples as she giggled.
He couldn’t miss them.
The shots were ordered.
“The 2040s isn’t perfect. But it’s closest to what we have imagined of going back to creating a perfect world.” She spoke while licking the aftertaste of vodka off her lips.
He rested his right elbow on the table and gave her all his attention.
She went on speaking as if on a momentum.
“The 2040s are changed times. Third-world-war means that we have pretty much damaged the painting of the world map. The technology has sunken deep into the black sea. The phone lines are dead. The internet is a distant dream. But owing to our character of adaptation, those who managed to make it through the night have learnt to survive under the new Sun. For the time that’s on our hands that is. It is in a way a utopian dream for us lovers and the artists. The borders have been smudged. Who is the refuge and who owns the burnt lands is a question as orphan as the small faces around.”
“Tell me more.” He was all ears.
“What do you want to know?”
“Are people still fighting? Is living in the mountains back?” His questions were almost ready.
“The gunshots behind the mountains are slowly fading out. People have gathered from the lands afar and speak the common language of survival. Because what better than to swim together in the waters today that could drown us tomorrow? We light these little campfires in the corners of the lakes and sing the songs we thought we never will.”
“We? You mean you have friends?”
“Well, I did meet someone. He was singing this Bob Dylan song…” she snapped her fingers as if trying to recall something.
“Blowing in the wind?” he said rather confidently.
“Yes” she said cheerfully.
“He was humming that song while we sat there, and I warmed my hands at the flame. That’s my favorite memory from it.”
“That…that sounds interesting,” he replied while slowly getting lost in his thoughts.
She circled her forefinger around the edges of her glass and looked at him.
“What are you thinking?” She probed him.
“I’m thinking that I’ll be quite old by that time and you’ll probably come around.” He said getting up.
“Maybe you’ll have gray hair and all the wisdom of past years. Maybe you’ll sing me a song.”
He looked at her for a moment and said, “Maybe.”
They both wore their biggest smiles of that night.
He checked his watch and said, “I so want to ask you for your number. But you guys don’t have them yet, do you?”
“Don’t worry. You don’t need to exchange numbers when you have the same hiding place.”
“See you around!”