Long Lost Friend by Alan Delaney

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SUMMARY: An old friend reappears.

They had not met for years, so when he saw her across a crowded street he was momentarily dumbstruck. He could not see her face but he knew it had to be her: the shape of those hips, the way her head bobbed, her penchant for colourful hats - even across a mass of bodies they were unmistakeable. A bus came between them, breaking his line of sight. When it passed he realised she was moving away. It was time to get going.

He elbowed through the sluggish crowd, muttering token apologies as he went. She walked fast, she always did, but her hat had become his beacon - he just needed to keep it in view. He jumped a red light, narrowly missing a jeep, and quickened his pace when she ducked into a mall.

The mall was thronged and for a moment he lost her. He scanned around, trying to catch that hat again.

There, first floor.

Now nearly running, he pushed his way in and barged up the escalator, all the while looking for the beacon. He so desperately wanted to see her again, wanted to know how she was doing, wanted to know how things had been, if it had all worked out.

But most of all - he so desperately wanted to apologise.

By the time he had reached the first floor, he had lost her again. He raced towards where he had last seen the hat but she was nowhere to be seen. Despondent, close to tears and now suddenly aware of all the evil stares that he was receiving, he searched the mall, one shop at time, but it was no use - he couldn't find her.

Once again, she was lost to him.