20:20, that’s what time your phone tells you as you make your way into the Natural History Museum. The conversation with the doorman wasn’t as painstakingly awkward as you thought it would have been; he simply crossed your name off the list and pointed out the direction of the exhibit.
Even though you have been here before, the museum somehow looks a lot different at night, more beautiful and extravagant. A large banner decorates the hallway for the event Moonlight in Jurassica – some fancy name to make a dinosaur exhibit at night more appealing. Though how could dinosaurs at night not be appealing? The curators have obviously never seen Night at The Museum before.
Smartly dressed people fill the room, all sipping champagne out of long glasses and looking like they’re having too good a time socializing with others, though none of them were actually looking around the exhibit. You stand there contemplating whether or not to venture into the crowd; Will could literally be anywhere. Instead, you take the safer option, grabbing your phone out of your bag and scrolling for Will’s number. You stop suddenly when suddenly a hand lands itself on your shoulder–
You spin around to see Will, dressed rather smartly in a jet black suit, looking as handsome as ever. “So you finally managed to show your face,” he says with a smile as he brings you in for a welcoming hug.
“Fashionably late as ever.” You feel yourself relaxing now that you’ve found your friend. “Have I missed much?”
“No. You missed some incessantly long speeches and as equally dull applauses. Next time I might take a page out of your book and show up–” he cast his eyes down to his watch– “an hour and a half late.”
You give a necessary eye roll, which elicits a chuckle out of Will before he continues, “Anyway, I brought you this.” He holds out a large glass of white wine, with two ice cubes in it, just as you like it.
“Thanks, you are clearly a telepath,” you giggle as you take a sip of the drink. “There are so many people here tonight… and everyone seems to be about fifteen years our senior. Are you sure we’re supposed to be here?”
Will smirks as he gazes around the room and then back to you. “I hadn’t noticed, but I think your right.” You give him a concerned look. “Although, if we weren’t supposed to be here, how did our names end up on the guest list?”
“Okay… I believe you,” you reply with another roll of your eyes. “Have you been able to look around the exhibit yet?”
“Not yet, I was waiting for you to show up.” He flashes you a sarcastic glare, which makes you smile. “But while I was waiting, I caught sight of Dr Wyatt and George!”
Dr Wyatt and her husband, George, wrote a book that could be considered a revolutionary novel within some circles. Will stumbled upon it when it was first published and hasn’t really stopped talking about it ever since. Your open widen at his words. “No way! Where are they?”
Will places his hand on your shoulder and points you in the direction of the couple.
“Can you see them?” he whispers, as though what you both were doing was a great secret.
You look through the crowd and see the couple, in polite conversation with another equally established couple. “Yeah I see them. Why don’t you go over and talk to them?”
“I have been waiting all night, but they always seem to be occupied with other people.” You turn around to look at Will and see that his eyes eagerly fixed upon the authors. Your eyes also pass back over to them. If only you could be like Dr Wyatt in the future… what with some classy husband and your life all pieced together. Maybe someday.
Anybody else looking upon you and Will would just see two people standing still in amongst the crowd, silently staring into the distance like two awkward wolves eyeing up their prey. Though perhaps hopefully in a less-threatening way.
You can feel it getting weird. “Hey,” you say, nudging Will to try and get his attention. He reluctantly turned to face you “Do you want to look around the exhibit then?”
His eyes flashes back to the couple and then back to you. “I’ll tell you what: you go ahead, because I’m going to swoop in right after those people are done.”
“Okay. But don’t leave me stranded on my own for too long,” you reply half sarcastically.
“I’ll find you as soon as I finish,” he tells you with a reassuring smile at you.
Looking over at Dr Wyatt and George, you notice that their conversation is nearly over and another party is impatiently looming nearby, waiting their turn. You nod toward their direction. “You better be quick, then.”
Will furrows his eyes in confusion before he turns to see the couple finishing off their conversation. “Shit,” you hear him mutter as he leaves you, politely pushing his way through the crowd toward his heroes.
After a fair bit of searching, you manage to find an area of the exhibit that isn’t full of people. Off to the side of the room there’s a staircase, leading you to a balcony area to get a “view from above.”
There’s a large pterodactyl skeleton hanging from the ceiling with clear wires, as to give the impression that it’s really flying through the sky – super believably, obviously. Although you feel pretty happy standing there, sipping your wine and reading interesting facts from the information point, like Did you know? That Pterodactyl’s had around 90 teeth? – crazy!
Just as you’re about to move onto the next fun fact, you hear someone clearing their throat from behind you, announcing their presence. You’re pretty sure that no one else was up on the balcony with you, and Will couldn’t be looking for you already… your eyes diverted back down towards the information card. You’re probably just hearing things – Did you know? The Pterodact–
You’re not imagining anything, someone’s there. You slowly start to turn around, half expecting to see your beardy friend with a beaming smile lighting up his face…
Stood in front of you was a tall quiff-haired stranger. “Erm, hi,” he mumbles, looking about as awkward as you feel.
“Hello.” You can’t help but smile back at him, as his eyes dart around everywhere before they finally settle upon your shoes.
“I like your shoes.” You look down to your slightly worn converse, and then over to his feet that are fashioning all black high tops. You look up to the stranger who was now smiling at you, his calm blue eyes just about managing to make contact with yours.
“Thanks, you reply. “It looks as though you yourself also have a pretty great taste in footwear.”
He chuckles, glancing back down towards the floor before focusing his eyes back onto your direction and offering out his hand. He smiles back at you in a more relaxed state. “I’m Dan.”