I Will See You Again

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.

“Estoy aqui.”

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.


Love / Amor

You met him in the deep of the winter. Beast of the East, they called it, when the snows piled up, the icy winds blew and the temperature fell down below zero. He’s not bad, you thought, at first, but even then you had to admit you found him attractive. Then you got to know him better. You bonded over music. Latin American music, the old and the new, popular or obscure, it didn’t matter, you both liked it all. It was the music of his lands.

And then, as the spring arrived and days got longer, it became harder and harder to stop thinking about him. Then you found out he felt the same.

It was a long, hot, passionate summer.

People couldn’t believe it; four months without a single raindrop? Continuous sunshine? What miracle! The two of you just laughed. It was no miracle. Of course it was that way, because it made sense. It was the summer made for you, hot like those faraway lands.

You danced, always. Salsa, merengue, or just swaying from side to side with no rules. You ate melons at midnight. Sunday afternoons you spent lying in bed playing old love songs. Te quiero. And Buena Vista Social Club.

It was a long summer.

When it started getting colder, it only meant you wrapped yourselves under a blanket. Autumn leaves crunched under your feet when you went for a walk in the park. Once you shared the same scarf. People laughed at that.

They had no idea.

You looked forward to the long winter nights. Te quiero…

But it turned out it wasn’t just the year that was running out. His visa too.

No big deal, he’d just get it renewed, you thought. But he couldn’t. Home Office rejected it.

That Halloween monster was real. You were going to lose him. He had to go back to his country.

It shouldn’t have surprised you, you’d heard all about the “hostile environment”. Never had it occurred to you to apply it to your own situation but here it was. There was nothing to be done.

On a rainy November day, you said your goodbyes. I’ll do what I can, he said. He was devastated. It wasn’t just you, he didn’t want to leave UK.

We’ll be alright, you assured him. What will be, will be. Que sera, sera.

Months have passed since then, winter came and went, nowhere near as cold as the one year before, followed by weak spring and rainy summer. Once again the old order was restored.

If you’re lucky, you don’t get all soaking wet.

Amazingly, you’re still in touch with him. You message each other regularly and video call as much as you can from one hemisphere to another. Attempts to obtain new visa were unsuccessful so far, but he’s not losing hope.

You don’t talk about him to anyone much. People get uncomfortable any time immigration is brought up. Some mumble something about hoping you two will be reunited soon and change the subject. Other try to lecture you on long distance. Like you asked… You secretly laugh at them. They have no fucking idea.

You play Buena Vista Social Club and dance around your flat. They have no idea how good it feels.

Out on the busy streets, you put your headphones on to block out the noise. Chan Chan. It’s your signature tune.

You look up at the sky in daytime and at moon at night, the same sky and the same moon he’s looking at. “Hey, we’re still on the same planet!”

He might try Spain, he says. He seems to be more optimistic about that.

You’re not worried. You know you’ll meet again.

And so another day comes by and you look at the sky again and he’s on your mind and you’re on his mind and you listen to the same songs at the same time.

“But don’t you feel lonely?” some boring person asks you. “No, why would I?” you answer. They gasp. You shrug and put your headphones back on.

They don’t get it and never will.

But you do.

Because you have known love.