Thousands of miles between us
C455 4JYN. The number plate is irresistible; he can’t credit no-one has bought it yet. It’s perfect.
He would never have dreamed of buying Felicity a personalised car number plate for her birthday; and now he can’t possibly not do it. It isn’t so very expensive; he’s seen champagne costing more. Champagne of a high quality, true; but – for a friend – for a dear, dear friend like Felicity…
It’s not as if it says “D13GO 4 F3L1C1TY” or anything (and he wonders idly if there’s any country with number plates long enough to fit all that in). This, he can play as a joke; can say, hand on heart, that he’s just another humble Rebelcaptain shipper. Such a funny term; as if he could wrap their poor doomed characters up and mail them to safety somehow.
He buys it and arranges for it to be delivered.
She calls him on her birthday; though where he is, stuck on location in the middle of nowhere in Western Australia, it’s 1am, so technically the day after. Since he’s still jetlagged and unable to sleep, sitting up reading in bed, he picks up the phone when it rings, and sees that it’s her; answers, and hears her laughing as she starts to speak. She sounds drunk, just a little. He remembers happier days in happier locations, and being drunk with her. There’s a faint ripple of music behind her voice; it sounds like a solo guitar, playing something lyrical and sparkling.
“Diego! Thank you for my number plate, you goof, that’s so sweet, now I can drive Jyn’s own car!”
“Well, not just hers…”
“Oh, whose else’s is it, then?”
“Ah, come on, it says it right there!”
“Huh? – what, have you gone and written something silly on the back?”
Oh. “Come on… Felicity, just read it. Read the number.”
“See four fifty-five Jyn.”
“Ahh. Oh. Oh…” She doesn’t get it; she didn’t read the 4 as an A, or the 5s as S’s. His joke, and the covert flirting it was meant to signal, both fall flat, and his happiness with them. He sits in the lamplight, staring at the cotton sheet lying over his knees, feeling bereft. The line to England crackles.
He musters a smile. It’s still her birthday, there in London. “Never mind. Are you having a good time? – are you at a party? I hear music.”
There’s a pause, and then the sweet, happy sound of her laughter. “I’m at home, silly, I just got in, that’s the record player, the – thingummy, I mean, the hifi wifi doodah. Oh, Diego, you’re such an angel!”
“I am? Uh, well, that’s nice to know…”
“You’re actually going to let me get away with it, aren’t you? With taking the mickey like this?”
“Are you? Taking – taking the mickey?” But she doesn’t answer. She’s laughing again, and it’s the most beautiful sound he knows. The corners of her mouth will be all creases and dimples right now, her nose will be crinkling, her teeth showing and her eyes full of light, out there thousands of miles away from him.
“I’d like to hug you right now,” she says merrily. “Dear darling Diego, I do love you, you know…”
What he does know, he thinks, is that this has to be the alcohol talking. He makes himself smile as warmly as he can (thousands of miles away from her, now, when he’d most like to wrap his arms around her and never let go).
He’s about to speak when “Cass-for-Jyn,” Felicity says, with a triumphant giggle. “I love it. It’s bonkers of course, but I love it. I ship them so much, you know.” Her voice is so warm, across half the world; so full of love, so alive.
For a second he can’t breathe. His smile, his heart, almost hurt with happiness. “I know! They’re just so right for each other!”
“Yes, yes, they are. They’re perfect together.” Felicity is laughing again. “You are such a daft darling to buy me such a weird present, and let me tease you and – and everything – and I’m having such a lovely day and far too much prosecco at lunch – no, I tell a lie, it wasn’t, it was quite a classy champagne, look at me, so la-di-dah these days! – but I wish you’d been here with your sneaky bottle of mescal. I wish you’d been here, Diego…”
“I wish I was there, too,” he tells her truthfully.
“Anyway, got to go, heavens, it must be 2am or something where you are and I’m keeping you awake!”
“It’s okay, I was awake already and it’s – it’s always good to hear your voice.”
“Bye, then, and thank you for my lovely silly pressie!”
“Bye-bye, Felicity, enjoy the rest of your birthday…”
“Love you, bye-ee!” And she hangs up.
He sits looking at the phone, and at the light and shadow around him. Leans over to set the phone, and the paperback, on the nightstand, and put the lamp out. Lies down in the dark, in the cool, quiet bed.
Says aloud in the darkness; because he’s never said it, and he wants to hear the words: “And I love you, Felicity…”
Thousands of miles away.