They saw one another from across the park and each nodded at the other. Evan looked around for Rachel; she wasn’t here yet. Tardiness, he thought, definitely came from her mother. Mark saw him waiting around towards the edge of the path, he looked back at his team – they were all warming up so he had enough time to jog over and be polite. It was just whether he wanted to or not.
The sun was hidden by the English clouds and the wind bellowed around them, they both knew a storm was brewing. Vibrant confetti fell from the scattered branches and cracked as people walked past. The ground was hard and dry, prime conditions for causing rivers of red on knees and faces. The rain would be welcomed. Evan looked over to the gaggle of supporters, she wasn’t there either. Why must she always be late? He made his way over to the edge of the white painted box.
He caught Mark’s eye and gave an uncomfortable smile, as he did the bearded man made his way over to him.
“That wasn’t an invite to come over…” Evan mocked.
“I know. I know. I was just going to thank you for coming to watch the game. It means a lot.” Mark replied, nervously. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up as he looked at Evan and became very aware of the tight lipped look spread across Evan’s face.
“Mmm… you’re welcome. Just don’t lose.” This cut throat statement signalled that the conversation was over. Both men smiled a wry smile at one another and stood awkwardly looking away.
A cry for Mark beckoned him from behind, breaking the unfamiliar air between them both. He nodded back towards the voice and Evan nodded back. Despite the two men feeling worlds apart they mirrored their mannerisms almost instinctively. Both men had a profound respect for the other, but in the same breath both felt an air of deserved caution for the part they played in her life.
As Mark ran back to the pitch, Evan studied him. The way that he jogged reeked of strength and determination. At first glance, he was a fierce and powerful man with ink on his arm and a forest of hair on his chin. But, as Evan looked closer he saw his face was kind and his markings were nothing more than Mark’s passion for music. If anything, Evan thought, he was a man engulfed in desire, the willingness to prove himself, thirsty for the opportunity to be somebody’s someone; to be her somebody.
Mark felt Evan’s eyes watching him and he couldn’t help but look back over to Evan. In everything he did and was, Mark could see Rachel in him. The way he stayed away from the crowds of people, the way his thick dark hair contrasted his blue eyes, the way his shoulders hunched up in to his scarf.
Mark turned back to his sprints running the width of the pitch and although his mind was focused ahead, he couldn’t escape the burning of Evan’s attention. Mark so wanted today to go well, it wasn’t the first time they had met but this time it was on Mark’s terms. His world, his rules – right? Wrong. He knew it would always be on Evan’s terms.
From the corner of his eye, Mark saw her. She sauntered over, as if she was early. He didn’t acknowledge her like he had done with Evan, but it was okay – she knew the drill by now. Besides, he still had to impress Evan and both men knew it.
Behind him Evan heard footsteps and the familiar crunch of orange and red leaves on the floor. He didn’t turn around straight away and instead he secretly smiled as she approached him. Only when she was as far as Mark had been from him earlier, did he turn to greet her; straight face and all.
“Nice of you to join us. Your poor boyfriend had to speak to me on his own.” he said jokingly.
“You mean, you had to speak to my boyfriend on your own.” She replied in the same tone.
“Same thing. Besides, you’re late anyway so who is the real loner here.” He smirked as he leaned in for a kiss on the cheek, to which she returned and replied:
“Good to see you too, Dad.”