• Allison

Upstairs

Even in the dark, two drinks in, her yearning was palpable. Hollow hope suspended like trusty stage lights Upstairs at Whelan’s. Desire percolating like effervescence topping my perspiring glass. Silhouette outlined by amber and violet as she pointed the camera at his face, his hair, his hands.


There might have been fifteen of us in that room, but there were only two on either side of those lens.


Between tracks, he spoke of love and loss. How the two were inextricably intertwined. How the first and second half of the set were so different in tone, but both written for the same reason. How he would not be ready for another reason for a long time to come.


She was sitting now, amidst the crowd, but I found her immediately. For how could I miss such visible deflation? Like a pricked balloon, only it was hope slowly leaking out and spilling into her beer. Her friend rubbed her shoulder consolingly.


In the brief lull as he switched from strings to keys, she asked, “Do you remember when you wrote that song for my sister’s wedding?” And he said, “I think so.”


As we braced ourselves for the cold Dublin night beyond the door, I turned to look at her one last time. Camera still in hand, quietly at his elbow, willing him to face her. I found my heart aching for a complete stranger as I realised she would not get the encore she clearly craved so.


We went downstairs.