They were sitting together at a bar, facing each other, holding hands. They were very close. He could smell the familiar warm perfume of her hair. She looked more beautiful than ever, and she was smiling. He didn’t have to say anything. He knew everything was all right now: she was safe, and her love for him was alive again, renewed.
He felt as if a heavy weight had been lifted from his shoulders. The happiness made him giddy. He would be everything for her. A new man. He would never let her down again. Sweetie. He was about to put his arms around her when the barman slid two fluted glasses of champagne towards them. They took the glasses and raised them in silent toast, but the bubbly didn’t taste right. It was flat and bitter.
He held his glass up to the light, but it fell from his hand and shattered on the floor with a deafening crash, like a brick going through a window. When he looked up, he saw that the woman opposite him was not Her at all, but someone he had never seen before. He asked her where She was, but the stranger just smiled at him and raised her glass again.
Then He saw the glod watch on her wrist, the one she always wore. He tried to reach forward and take it, but the ground seemed to be giving way beneath him. He was falling, and as he fell he could hear the angry voices of people in the bar shouting at him. He looked down just in time to see the tiled floor of his bathroom hurtling towards him. He felt sure the impact would shatter his skull, but as he opened his eyes he realised the floor was soft.
He was lying on his couch, and there was light coming in from behind the drawn curtains. The yellow digits on the decoder read 15:34. He could still hear the shouting, but it came from the television: the chanting of young voices, a crowd outside an Israeli embassy somewhere …
He sat up. It hadn’t all been a dream, surely. She had been real – and the watch? He wasn’t sure. Ignoring the splitting pain in his head, he crawled over to his computer. She was still there, online. Then he remembered.
The strap on her gold watch was broken. It was all just a dream. He sat down, and began to type.