You can hear the brakes squealing
Agreed. This may be (probably) the reason that Peter is so morose at the beginning of the comic. Bumping into Michelle right before the party would certainly be off putting - she is smiling, laughing, and vibrant - without him.
Were I Peter, I'd just leave before she saw me. There's just way too much water under the bridge, and that aside, she's clearly settled and (possibly only somewhat?) happy- the key factor for me would be that however many years have passed and to the best of Peter's knowledge she's never contacted anyone to let them know what she's up to/ is still alive.
What do we know? We know he shows up to the party in a very melancholic state. And Andy's oblivious, so he probably didn't mention seeing Michelle to him. Either he talks to her or he doesn't. Very curious how we get from point A to point B, and what comes after.
This is the face which haunts him which is mentioned in the opening pages. I've spent the last week reading the entire graphic novel again to be certain that I understand the next few pages. This is the work that started me to reading webcomics. It's still the best that I've seen, ten years later. Michelle is awesome.
As I Suspected
He wasn't struck as melancholic as the opening chapter for the comic when he received the shoe box of pictures.
He saw a face he didn't want to. He didn't say a picture; a face.
I have been in this exact situation three times in my life; where someone, who was and is a still a part of my heart and soul, reappears after the ravages of time have allowed the scars to stop throbbing.
A reminder of a bygone era.
Two times, I was able to escape before they noticed me; they were happy, I was...not. I decided not to plague them with my presence, as my mental state in that time was not the best.
The last time...there wasn't an avenue to escape when I noticed them. They then noticed me. The small look of shock that crossed their face before their expression turned sour was all I needed to know that there was no forgiving each other. We had hurt each other too deeply.