It’s been a long time since you last saw each other.
Since that grey November day when you said goodbye, the Hostile Environment immigration policy putting an ocean between you. Two years or three, who’s counting? You’re still in contact, you’re connected. Modern technology is your saviour. You get to hear his voice, see his face on the screen. No touch, no hand to hold. No skin to caress. No one to dance salsa with.
So you dance alone.
You look up and see the same sky, the same moon. You play the same music and think about each other. I will see you again, he says.
The pandemic, the lockdowns, it makes no difference to you. The world opens again, it makes no difference to you. You dance salsa on your own. In your living room, after dusk, lights off, headphones on.
I will see you again, he says.
He repeats it often. It has become a chorus.
When you parted, you both agreed to see other people. You have dated, here and there, you’ve had many good dates. But no one measures up. No one is like him, because there is no one like him.
And you know it’s same for him.
I will see you again, he messages.
Life goes on. With every day, it goes on. Everything is good, except there is no him, because he is so far away. How does it work, with someone in a different hemisphere?
I will see you again.
Will you? You don’t remember when you started losing hope.
You go on another date, you think they’d make a good life partner. You ghost them. It’s never what it was with him.
What of it? You have long got used to dancing on your own.
When people ask you about your love life, you shrug. Nothing to tell. You don’t talk about him to anyone. Most of them forgot you were ever together. They don’t ask about him. They’re as uncomfortable discussing immigration as they ever were.
You don’t listen to Buena Vista Social Club anymore. What’s the point, when there’s nobody to share it with? Chan Chan, the signature tune, has faded away.
Winter is long and lonely and wet. The scarf you wrapped around yourselves, on your walks in the park that last autumn, lies at the bottom of your wardrobe.
At last, a new spring arrives. Time of optimism. So they say.
His message changes. I will see you soon.
You halt in the middle of the pavement, staring at your phone, people bumping into you.
You put the phone back in your pocket. It doesn’t mean anything, it’s only one changed word, that’s all.
Yet there is something in the air, something that could make you believe that it was not all in vain.
The next message reads: I will see you very soon.
A variation on the same theme, you tell yourself.
One day, you’re in the city centre and the music is playing. Music often plays in the city centre, it’s nothing out of the ordinary. Except, this time it is different.
Latin American music is unusual in this part of the world. You feel the almost forgotten stir in your veins, it’s been such a long time.
And then your hear it. Those unforgettable, unmistakable four notes. The signature tune, so familiar. How could you be such a fool to think it would ever fade?
Compay Segundo composed Chan Chan from a melody he heard in his dream, Wikipedia tells us. Your phone screen flashes with a new message. Turn around.
You turn around.
He is here.
You fall into each other’s arms. You stay like that for the whole song. “How?” you ask. “The Home Secretary is a literal Nazi. How did you do it?”
“There are ways,” he says.
Chan Chan ends, followed by an upbeat, contemporary Latin pop song. He takes your hand. “Let’s dance.”
He is back. And you will never dance alone again.
Author’s Note: This is a continuation of my older story Love / Amor, though I wrote it so it can be read separately. I can’t remember exactly how I came up with the idea of giving them a happy ending, but what finally convinced me was the departure of Santiago Cabrera from the Star Trek Picard series. His character got a happy ending in-universe, but I am disappointed I will not see him again in Season 3. So I wrote this.
Link to the Wikipedia article on the song Chan Chan mentioned in the story.
And finally, Chan Chan itself:
ETA: To clarify, this is not salsa, when I talk about them dancing salsa I mean that to an appropriate music.