The Look

It was the way she looked into his eyes. She seemed, almost, to be stunned by a fulfilled expectation, to be comfortably full of trepidation, to be just as relieved by his presence as she must have, long ago, been relieved by his absence. They were both older now, so much older, and as their eyes met they mutually recognised the passage of time. They had always been conscious of it, when they were together, long ago. It was a requirement of their relationship that they would acknowledge mortality everyday; they embraced it, and eventually they had even made an intimate spectacle of the End. Yet, here they were together again, she must have thought. Here we are together again. And she cried – tears of love? Of love lost? Of love unable to be fulfilled? Of resignation, of happiness at their reunion? Those tears, those droplets made of this-is-the-last-time. He mumbled something, something reassuring perhaps, but it didn’t matter. They were holding hands once more. It was still true, it was enduringly true, but it was also just a repeated goodbye. A silent, unmonumental goodbye. She pulled away, still crying, and he understood.

I didn’t know them – either of them. I mean, I knew of them, but I didn’t know either of them personally. But I watched; I shared that moment, I indulged in it, just as hundreds of thousands had done. It saddened me because I had seen myself in that moment that they shared. No – it saddened me because I had not seen myself in that moment that they shared, because it was something I had never experienced, and probably never will. I thought I knew it, love, I thought I knew it. I thought knowing at least one side of it was enough. Watching them, I felt the emptiness of a broken illusion within me. You see, there was a fullness in that shared moment. The fullness said, I love you but we can no longer be together, we can no longer be together but I love you. What did I have? Only – I no longer love him. Or – it was never about him. What would I feel if I looked into his eyes now? Disdain, perhaps – how could I have loved him? I loved him because I wanted to love. His presence, his him-ness was incidental, variable.

I will never be able to say that there was anything more than repressed memories. Even the myth is gone. Even the myth is gone.

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