One summer’s night – Take two

We get some tough topics for our writing groups, this month it is ‘social media’ – good grief! I’ve been absolutely stumped and then had an inspiration; I guess it might be cheating, but I took something I had already written which was an account of something which actually happened to me, one of those moments when a different decision might have resulted in a very different outcome. It had happened in the early 1980’s, and I began to wonder what would have happened if it had occurred in the present time? So here are the two stories, the same but the second set in the present when of course we have social media!

One summer’s night

Take one
It was one perfect summer night, the air was still and warm, with just the slightest breeze to make it pleasant. They were at a pub far from either of their homes, and Livia was waiting in the garden for her drink. She stood leaning on an old wooden rail looking over the moonlit bowling green. There were trellises all about, with roses rambling over and through, scenting the night air with their perfume. It was so calm, so peaceful, impossible to imagine on the other side of the world the navy was in combat against the Argentines that in the east Lebanon was falling into war.
But here, on the edge of the great city the evening was almost serene. There were lights at various points around the bowling green, but Livia stood in the shadows just enjoying the peace, and ignoring the disquieting voice of reason which whispered in a corner of her mind.
She was aware that someone else was leaning on the rail further on and sensed they had turned to look at her. She couldn’t make out anything about them, and no doubt she was similarly indistinct in the dusky darkness.
“Hi, it sure is a beautiful evening, isn’t it,” a polite American voice gently remarked.
Livia replied that indeed it was, perfect, in fact.
“This is such a nice old pub, it is very old… isn’t it?” he asked after a few moments.
“I believe it is, I think it might be the oldest pub in the area – but I might be mistaken. It is very, very old though!”
He sounded such a nice man, young like she was, that she continued the conversation, conscious all the time that her friend might return, and oddly thinking… thinking that this stranger sounded so… well… so nice…
There was a comfortable silence, and then he asked, as she thought he might, if he could perhaps buy her a drink.
“I’m so sorry, I’m with someone…” she replied, genuinely regretful. He in turn apologised, thinking perhaps that he’d been intrusive, or impertinent. She assured him that it was ok, it was just that…
“I haven’t embarrassed you?”
“No, not at all, it was kind… any other time…”
“Good night then…”
“Goodnight, and thank you…”
Her friend returned.
Their relationship continued, and for too long after it was finished she could not get over it. And from time to time she thought back to the unseen young American hidden by roses by the bowling green that summer night.

Take two
It was one perfect summer night, the air was still and warm, with just the slightest breeze to make it pleasant, and music throbbed from the old pub’s open windows. They had met at a pub far from where either lived, and Livia was waiting in the garden for her drink, scrolling through Facebook and TikTok. She stood leaning on an old wooden rail looking over the moonlit bowling green and took a few atmospheric photos. There were trellises all about, with roses rambling over and through, scenting the night air with their perfume.
It struck her again, how pleasant it was to be out and socialising, free from restrictions on going out, on meeting friends. Lockdown had taken a toll; the secret meetings with her ‘friend’ had to be even more discrete, technically breaking the law. They had been able to message of course, although sometimes he took a long time to reply. Occasionally they face-timed, but it was awkward.
But here, on the edge of the great city the evening was almost serene. There were fairy lights around the bowling green, but Livia stood in the shadows just enjoying the peace, and ignoring the disquieting voice of reason which whispered in a corner of her mind.
She was aware that someone else was leaning on the rail further on; they also had their phone out and were taken pictures of the tranquil night view. She sensed they turned to look at her, but could make out nothing about them. No doubt she was similarly indistinct in the dusky darkness.
“Hi, it sure is a beautiful evening, isn’t it,” a polite American voice gently remarked.
Livia replied that indeed it was, perfect, in fact.
“This is such a nice old pub,” he said after a few moments. “I’ve taken a few pictures but they don’t really catch it. It’s very old, the pub I mean, isn’t it”
“It’s the oldest pub in the area, I just googled it.”
He sounded such a nice man, young like she was, that she continued the conversation, conscious all the time that her friend might return, and oddly thinking… thinking that this stranger sounded so… well… so nice…
There was a comfortable silence, and then he asked, as she thought he might, if he could perhaps buy her a drink.
“I’m so sorry, I’m with someone…” she replied, genuinely regretful. He in turn apologised, thinking perhaps that he’d been intrusive, or impertinent. She assured him that it was ok, it was just that…
“I haven’t embarrassed you?”
“No, not at all, it was kind… any other time…”
“Good night then…”
“Goodnight, and thank you…”
Her friend returned.
***
Livia’s relationship with her friend continued, but from time to time she thought back to the unseen young American hidden by the roses around the bowling green that summer night. She came across a photo on the pub’s Facebook page, and she just knew the American had taken it – it was almost identical to the photos she had taken.
She stared at it a long time, and his name, and then looked him up. His page was private but his cover image was the same photo of the bowling green by night. She found him on Instagram and looked through his photos.
She went back to the pub’s Facebook page and in the comment below the American’s photo, she added her own photo – ‘Snap!’ she wrote.

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