I sat on the steps of the large building, near the lions, looking out at Nottingham's Old Market Square for a while before turning my attention back to Pokémon Sapphire. I'd caught a Wingull and had decided it was pretty useless, so was attempting to level it up. This was no easy task, and with half an hour to kill, I had decided upon Old Market Square as a good enough place to do so as any.
I looked up, temporarily, noticing that (among others) one of my bandmates was walking towards me across the square.
She had dark hair, dark eyes and full, round cheeks. I don't recall ever seeing her without her 'phone in her hand, surmising (correctly) that she was able to text without looking at either screen or keys. She sat next to me, once, in my class at university, and I'd failed to recognise her that evening when I first went to band until I saw her in the light. So says Mr. Observant.
I kind of knew that she was leaving Nottingham after a year or study, finding that it hadn't really fitted her. She was, however, an excellent musician, and it had been a pleasure to play with her. This was her last gig, so I had asked if we could travel together.
"Shall we go, then?"
"Yeah. Do you want to take the tram?"
"Why? It's a five-minute walk."
"Uphill. And I've never taken the tram before."
Off the tram stop at the arboretum and through the tree-lined avenue towards the tent. Her thumb hadn't left the keypad of her 'phone for the entire journey.
"Who are you texting, anyway?"
Out of everything I knew about her, from her origins in the North to her silvery instrument to her views on Riddley Walker, one of the things I hadn't quite clocked was that she wasn't single. I'd mentioned her, in passing, to my grandmother when talking about the band we were in, and her response may have been some suggestion that we were about to get married. I wasn't even that attracted to her, but since everyone else in the band was either in a relationship, much older or much crueller (and, in some cases, Tories!!!), I didn't talk much to anyone else.
Not knowing she had a boyfriend, I'd never thought to envision him. But, since I wasn't ever going to see this girl again, I thought I may as well ask her what he looked like. Someone to emulate, perhaps, if I wanted to pull hot girls who played instruments in large ensembles later in life. In response, she tapped her keypad again, and pulled up a picture (quite an impressive feat for 2004).
He was in a uniform.
"He's a cadet?" I ejaculated, before I could stop myself.
"He's a marine," she corrected me. "Don't you recognise the uniform?"
"I don't really know much about uniforms," I admitted, "apart from this one." And I pulled on the flowery waistcoat to which I was referring.
I walked past the sergeant, took my place next to the old guy who used to be in the Marines, and remained seated while everyone else stood for the national anthem.
I've never felt so out of place.