“No, my dear, the coffee is absolutely fine.”
“Well, if you are sure….” The woman swept her hair behind her
ear and expectantly turned the gaze away from him. He knew that
she wanted him to take her hand or say something meaningful. She
wondered whether he did not want to, or could not. She smiled
warmly. He put his hand on top of hers for an instant and then
was a translucent grey day outside the coffee shop, and the late
afternoon hour kept the tables mostly deserted. The low hum of
quiet conversations around them emphasized the drooping tension
between the two.
that is how you want, then…. Alright, we have to get along.” Her
voice trembled just slightly revealing that she had stepped back
again, given up on something. She could not ask the question,
so she gave the answer herself. She knew that he would never say
the word she yearned for, as well as he knew that she had been
waiting for certain words to be said. The both knew now and again
that they missed each other’s lines. Certainly there was hope
that the words she wished to hear might come in some future, but
these were her words and not his. He did not have words within.
She looked through the window. The glass was clean, swept by the
earlier gust of rain. The air was sparkling, emphasizing the light
and deep shades of grey that filled the street and the sky.
“It’s time, I need to go,” she said. She rose first and he followed.
He paid the bill and went outside to find her. His bearing was
composed and his whole bodily movement ascetic. He felt a pang
of pain as he held her hand goodbye, feeling that he was half-losing
her again, and feeling sorry that he cold not reach out and hold
her, prevent her from leaving him. He could not answer to her,
to her expectation and to her being, in the way she longed for.
She left. He watched her, the only coloured and warm image framed
by the greyness of the cold street. Neither of them knew if they
would ever see each other again.
ache begun. The memory of embracing arms, a memory slowly tearing
away from the flesh, taking in the warm essence of a living body.
The sound of the voice, balm for the secret mind, hungering again
to hear the murmur that heals all solitude in the world for an
instant. The eyes, the eyes gleaming with laughter, depth, serious
presence while talking about the troubles of the times. The love
making, forgotten nights with lost dates that left gleaming flecks
of sensual masterpieces of closeness, wild invasions across the
bounds of delight and freedom. The sense of the other, the ultimate
presence, the repeated astonishment, over and over again.
was good before they met. He was a lawyer, and she was a manager.
They were not young, and both had already made their lives fulfilled
to a bearable point. Life had been going somehow, and there had
been even joyful mornings to it. It seemed that some sort of order
was finally there superimposed upon insecurity. Neither of them
had had it easy.
did not know each other, and then they met. It was not a meeting
of two needy individuals looking for a dream in the world. It
would be hard to say if they were looking for or looking away
from love. He was married, and she was long time divorced. His
marriage had plenty of empty slots but it was convenient, leaving
him time to devote to other interests. Women were not one of them.
He was too tried out for seduction.
Her job was demanding although not too creative, but it also left
her a lot of unspent curiosity to explore after hours. Men were
not the major one. She loved herself too much for that.
when they met, they were rather satisfied people, more or less
selfish, and not too interested in the events of the complicated
human-to-human world. But they got interested in each other. And
who can explain the mystery of intimacy, why two people get drawn
to each other with an inexplicable force, why then, why thus,
why those two people and not some other two? Why at all? Before
long, before having spoken about it, they knew, each alone, they
were in love. And they knew that love was a mortal thing.
his job, he was a committed lawyer. He chose early not to defend
cases where in his judgment the accused one was guilty. Thus he
had turned down a number of clients in his career, which made
him a lawyer of moderate status, not too noted amongst his peers.
He knew that their success would hurt his sense of justice, and
he knew the consequences. He did not bother to explain his stand
to his colleagues and his wife, growing insensitive to their well-meant
advice to sometimes bend his principles. He didn’t.
He tried once, in his youth: he defended a case of a young woman
who used her charm and a tough-childhood story to elbow her way
in a private company, but was then caught at her first attempt
to commit a fraud. She was guilty, and he knew it. He tried at
the time to silence his consciousness; he won the trial, turned
down the girl’s offer to reward him sensually, and went home feeling
void and sick.
He did not get sick; the next day he went back to the office and
never mentioned the case again. It was a job cleanly done, they
said. Yet he grew stricter toward himself afterwards, and lost
some of the enthusiasm he regarded his job with. He was unable
to feel guilty, so he could not forgive himself, and his self-blaming
was too abstract to evoke any stronger emotion.
was at ease with time and knew that it was better to let it solve
things that are out of our control. And years just went by. If
there had been an answer he was waiting for, he certainly had
forgotten the question. Life was sufficient, perhaps a bit monotonous,
but one certainly could not have everything, and the wisdom of
life is to concentrate on what one has, and cherish it.
he was once in love with his wife, but that was far off in the
past and the traces of that glamour slowly evaporated through
time. It was quite a few years back that its last trace drowned
between them. They, he and his wife, drowned it deliberately.
It was somehow easier to live without the ups and downs of passion
than to continually make the effort of spurring the old flames
and re-living the failure of the other to fulfil one’s expectations.
All that was hope and passion died quietly, without drama, on
the floor of their drawing room, where all their differences came
into the crude light and stayed there, immobile, stooped monuments
of earlier desires and un-revoked decisions. They did not talk
about their differences: they simply went on different ways into
different worlds. They both regarded each other as an unspoken,
although friendly failure.
was unfaithful to her occasionally, having very rare and short-lived
affairs. From each affair he would soon withdraw, to his cold
surprise not finding himself interested enough to maintain the
effort secrecy requires. Sex was wonderful, and he did strongly
need to touch and to be touched, to immerse himself in a body’s
beauty and warmth. That joy would diminish all too soon, paling
in the black-blazing lack of anything significant to connect the
lovers. Unbearable tension would collect in him and he would silently
withdraw, leaving the other to say the deadly words. Time did
change things, bringing order back into actual life.
Sometimes a thought would cross his mind, if his wife was unfaithful
to him, if she had ever been. And except a slight jolt of jealousy,
which he would scold and put aside as childish possessiveness,
he felt nothing but an unattached curiosity and a good wish for
his wife to be happy, to perhaps evoke her passion with an unknown
lover. And he would let that thought slip from his mind. He never
felt the need to know. As for himself, he would never admit to
his wife that he had had lovers. It was simply not the thing to
love life with his wife was a decent effort on both sides to comfort
each other at minimal personal expense. As if the strain of unbearability
between them would grow to a point of bursting; the art of staying
together was to sense that moment and just prior to it to do something
loveable for the other. Something small, something known to be
wanted, and by doing it to trigger the other’s happiness. Their
marriage became a compassionate and reasonable gesture not to
hurt the other, and they persisted in doing so for the sake of
that loneliness two people feel when they are alone at night in
bed, naked, and the vast dark world infinitely surrounds them.
Then selfishness rekindled something that resembled warmth, enough
for an instant of pleasure. The gloomy solitude that was driving
them to intimacy would vanish by the arrival of the morning when
they would find each other superfluous again, and rush off to
work; and yet there was some sort of bonding there. The hours
away from each other gave them strength to go back together. And
the continuity of these successful but risky returns, never spoken
of and perhaps never thought of consciously, strengthened a feeling
of continuity between them. Now the physical time spent together,
the daily decisions to come back to their mutual home as partners,
bound them, although indecisive, although weakening their desires
each day. They had time to wisely tame reckless passions.
never left his wife, nor he admitted his desperate thoughts of
any sort of change he might have felt possible for him. His wife
sensed this, but was fearful and gracious enough to let it pass
without a word. He did not leave her and that was enough. She
would not open that box and endanger the future they had together,
she wished not to face the thought of being deserted, the broken
promise that was the sole thing that kept the heart together,
no matter how crumbled and outworn; it was the only thing left.
life did not finish its say. The man and the woman met and fell
were times of deep sorrow and turmoil when he would have wished
to turn back time and prevent this new relationship from happening
at all, and he could not do that. He wished to undo things from
his farther past, to unsay words, to un-happen events, but he
was, as human beings are, utterly helpless. And there were times
when he wanted to stop time, bend it like heated wax and make
an infinite curve in it which would lead to an ever deepening
and continuing ecstasy of pleasure, but he could not do that either.
He was banging his head at the staring wall of blank time. His
biggest ally, his teacher and friend, worked against him; it betrayed
are changes that love entraps with: suddenly one feels all the
things they could have been and desired to become, and their intimate
power fills the person again. In the furore of love, all past
dreams seem possible, and life seems too short to be lost on anything
else but the fulfilment of one’s dreams. In the turmoil of love
there emerges the despair of having failed the sincerest goals
and having forgotten ultimate dreams.
People may betray themselves, gradually, at certain key points
of life, in moments of decision that come quietly and without
announcement. When a person chooses a lesser dream, they choose
the less of one’s self.
Yet one knows that one gives up on something invisible but essential.
After each of these decisions when one plays down life, cold creeps
in and stays. Then a person adjusts quietly to a colder world,
that is, to a colder self living in a belittled world. Life seems
then like an infinite desert where the currents of passions are
being drained in the order of day. The decisions taken without
a full heart, for reasons right to others and for dreams of others
who had played down life and had unfulfilled dreams of their own.
Failing them and failing one’s self, and keeping on the pretence,
more or less successfully, that it was a fulfilment. And then
the gravity of days that follow, when one has a lifetime of consequences
to look toward to, in open joy or in clandestine misery. A non-dramatic
misery which does not kill.
The latter seemed to have followed the key decisions in this man’s
life. He knew that this was the consequence of his having brought
life choices with half a heart, due to circumstances and for the
sake of joining the rhythm of society. His occasional happiness
was mainly based on the luck or art of forgetting himself.
And yet, when he asked himself what else he would do at the decisive
moments of the past, he still could not find another way. He was
unable to imagine himself any different than he was already. And
although he was in love more than he ever though capable of, he
could not change his core of continuity. Continuity that seemed
like an inviolable tablet of commands that repeated one thing:
“Change is violence where everyone gets hurt. Harm not. What was
must be again.”
He was willing to do things right, but he knew he was imperfect.
His lover herself was not a perfect being. She was a symptom of
his love and not its spring. She was sometimes weak and frightened,
sometimes petty and overemotional, but he loved her, like one
loves the sun.
would never decide, would you?”
“I cannot, he said. I cannot make a decision at this time.”
“I hope you do,” he said warmly, but with a tremble of disbelief
in his voice. “I am awfully sorry that I cannot help you now.”
They both looked aside and stayed silent for a while. At that
moment they went into different times: she was wearily looking
at future, waiting for a thing that was less and less likely to
come; she imagined a rainy day when she finally leaves. She wondered
if she would have the strength to leave him for good. He was looking
at the past with anguish, bonded by the bulk of time spent like
a married man to a shadowy woman who was still and always his
wife. He still did not desire strongly a way out. And he looked
at his lover with fear from her future, because he knew that one
day she would give up hope, fatigue would flood in and uproot
all love has sown, and she would be gone. “But not today, dear
Lord, not now; just a little bit longer. Time will bring a solution,
I cannot,” he thought.
knew he loved her. One thing she could not understand was why
he never left his wife and started a life with her.
She did not understand, until later in life, that time was the
force that worked against her. Time was the element that was binding
and unbinding her lover’s soul: each ecstatic moment they shared
provoked Time, poking it and disrupting it, turning it hostile
in the end. So, in time, his only life tool, Time, turned swiftly
against their bond and brought it into cold land. Time bound it
and completed it instead of them.
also tamed their pain, and they even feebly attempted to be friends
for a short while after the separation. They both felt that they
had learnt an important lesson, although they were unwilling to
try and put it into words.
So, after this affair, which at late point of their lives brought
to an unexpected touch of one of the human dreams, even if they
had missed full comprehension, the elegant grandness of the loss
stayed with them to reflect upon in the long years of the generous