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minor 14 December, 2005

Posted by silentpyjamas in stuff and nonsense.
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Window open, pale sheers floating delicately inward like butterflies struggling to escape captivity. There is a breeze, but inside the room the world has detached itself. Blazingly white, four walls answer the light of the sun with ferocity. The city outside and below calls out vainly. Here is the silence of the absorbed, preoccupied. In this room thought is stentorian and all else has faded into the dull undercurrent, a half-hidden bass line in an unfinished song.

Fingers nimbly dance over gleaming ivory and obsidian. A tune minuets idly in the otherwise silent space. These are good times: summer air, peace, pretty, empty head with naught but the moment for concern. Spring curls the size of infants’ fingers bob this way and that, unruly and free like young hearts. Like hearts too, they follow whatever melody captures them and then on to the next. It’s a succor, this sweetly languorous moment, and the girl closes her eyes, increases the intensity of her play as if she can will the strains into a helix, a living thing, and thus not let this second die.

Caught in his own reverie the young man behind her contemplates the shadows on the wall. The wind, the sun, the curtain play chase with light and dark. Somewhere in the recesses of thought he can almost hear them laughing. To touch with his hand would somehow mark the game, rape it. Instead, he exhales slowly, lets his lungs empty their contents. Silver smoke plays tag for him. His eyes never leave the wall. Wraiths stalk the flapping shadows, insinuating themselves, insinuating him into the frenzy. Satisfied, he takes another drag.

…in another time they were new to one another. They could not look each other in the eyes without giggling like children. He, the shy creature turned bold man. She, lost soul who found herself a child. Before now they could not bear to be apart. When, after much procrastinating they did part ways, it was invariably like an old movie. One would turn only to lock eyes with the other. Breaths quickened. Palms perspired. This time…this time, it had to be real. They lit one another’s cigarettes, held hands. Their first kiss was something earthshaking. It seemed so innocent out there on the pavilion. Lips blossomed open to each other, hands tentative at shoulders, arms, waists. What could be more right?

When she visited him at work he smiled and blushed like a little boy. That night, they had coffee on the boulevard and watched the tourists pass by. They bought one another cards, He laughed when she tried to speak his native tongue. He loved her eyes, her lips, the shape of her face when she tilted it just so. He wanted to photograph her. She wrote endless poetry to read to him. She spoke too quickly, he said, his english was not so good. At times, they gazed simply at the surroundings. When it grew late they didn’t want to leave.

Weeks later in the harsh light of their dilapidated hotel room they lay with the television on. She was thirsty. He had caught her hand and wouldn’t let it go. Not ever, he had said. Peals of mirth and then breathless kisses. Next morning with sun pouring in from the painted-shut windows she awoke to the click-whirr of the camera his friend had bought him. She stumbled, irritated, into the bathroom that didn’t have a door handle and leaned against the door until he went to work. The photographs were beautiful. She, in them, was not.

Over morning coffee in the plaza she read a travel brochure again and again. He watched the passers-by. Their words seemed hollower now. This was how relationships were, they reasoned. Everyone had hard times. They moved to another, no less ramshackle hotel. She dressed up one day, hoped he would like it, and visited his work. It was magic. Like a rose revived, they were in love again. That night they went shopping, to dinner. Flushed with wine they made dizzying love and it was so wonderful. Nights, she made him tea and took hers without sugar, as he had bade her. When he came home she brushed his hair, rubbed his back, cradled him and sang him hymns when he was ill or forlorn. One night she almost got him to dance in the rain with her. His friend missed him, envied the girl her time with him. The lover, for his part was busy with projects, short of time. She demanded too much of him, he said. She asked too many questions. They fell asleep curled around one another. Mornings, with his bashful little-boy smile he caught her hand in the half-dark of twilight awareness and said he loved her. She started drinking when he was away.

In her friend’s hotel room she spent many happy hours, intoxicated with both the bliss of being new to someone again and the chemicals she inhaled. She saw him more often than her lover. Before long, the nighttime tea was being neglected and harsh words sneaked into conversation. She was eating too much, not fashionable enough, did not wear makeup. And, he hated poetry. She would cry, remembering how they had gone out and it had rained. Out on the patio while the candlelight braved the wind, he had held the umbrella near the awning while she ate her cake. Water had streamed onto her skirt. Those nights he held her. But only those.

Once he had found her shivering in the heat and crying on a corner where he used to live. She hadn’t known where she was. He wanted to protect her. Later, he told her about a death that had troubled him greatly. That night they slept laced together like praying hands. He got a new, better camera. His friend was trying to lure him away. She spat out the word “go” with such force his heart crumpled. He refused to meet her friends, More and more, they were apart. In her fury she drank and told her pain to the people next door. He had listened through the wall.

On their walks they seemed to drift apart. A few times they were separated in crowds and didn’t see one another for hours. On the subway she had a bad feeling. That night he told her he had sinned. They made love in candlelight and held one another as they slept. The silence was absolute.

She only had four tiny photographs of him.

Black and white. Proofs. Not a single one of him smiling.

The still air is stifling and the noise from the life below is cloying. A half-smoked cigarette smolders in the ashtray. No more fingers on the stained and cracked piano keys. Fading light filters through tattered curtains onto the yellowing, dirty walls in staccato. She thinks, strange how a physical departure can leave such an emptiness. Blinking quickly and briefly, touching her burning throat, she reclines on the vacant couch as the last discordant notes hang in the air.

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