Music was her soul.
And there was I like a strutting peacock promoting mine while she hummed the innocent lyrics of a song she never knew – didn’t need to – effortless form holding a tune which probably came from her in the first place.
My girlfriend had been out of town for four days before this heaven of a woman arrived in our flat – friend of a flatmate – exuding a rhythm the rest of us had been trying to remember for quite some time.
Things between my girlfriend and I had been good for as long as I could remember – but her absence had created a space I thought it only too natural for a 24 year-old to explore.
It would give me some time to rediscover what a man in a three year mostly monogamous relationship had long considered dead in himself. And whatever you say about the deepening bliss of lengthy communion, there is no nectar to the ego quite like attentions of an energetic 22 year old dancer with overflowing spirit and a propensity to laugh at the poorest of my jokes. Eyes glittering a curious green-amber – probably at the whole of existence; but I was stupid enough to grasp at the possibility they could be glittering a little more for me.
Now you must understand – if you hadn’t already guessed – I am a succour for infatuation. From a sincerely protestant family, devoted worship had been drilled into me from an early age and I had yet to find a higher alter, an icon so worthy of my prayers than the golden presence of an unknowingly and unashamedly beautiful woman.
And just as with God, the further they were from my reach, the more intense my religion.
…So sat this Hellenic beauty, the sun of a November morning on her shoulder, being so sickenly and effortlessly artistic.
“I only started drawing three months ago” as she copied a Rembrandt onto a postcard.
And again I was meditating on futility – futility of this fussy, chattering strategic planning as I plotted a way to make her path dovetail with mine.
And for what point? To distract her with mindless talk; to take her from her graceful course onto mine, meld her with my ugliness, all the while pretending that this was some kind of victory?
Or to keep alive the possibility that I could taste for one eternal second those olive arms, hands pressed into my back, hear music’s breath close past my ear…
My distractions continue – so knowingly futile but this is futility not from fear but pure desire – and I’m convincing myself there’s a difference between the two as I spin her this absurdly spiritual anecdote – designed to show my depth – and conclude with “…so the Universe is just love realising itself” – delivered quite naturally I assure you, with a perfectly weighted flourish to cushion it from tackiness.
“Yeah” she responded curtly.
Curt – not because she didn’t see that it was true. It was a truth her DNA found it impossible to hide. And not because she wasn’t interested – like I said those eyes could confer on the as much in a glance as the observer desired or required.
It was because this was a truth that seemed as obvious to her as the masterpiece of a pencil drawing she spun out unconcernedly between sips of some herbaceous tea.
It was also the kind of yeah that would forever make me feel like a pan uninvited guest at the spiritual tea party, when I so desperately wanted to be the main event.
That no matter how many yoga sessions I attended, however many wildly meditative dances I threw myself into, however many books I read that amounted to little more than comic strips with a little God thrown in – I could never capture that glow that those who have come to these things as if by accident exude so naturally.
And, as if you needed telling, she had it…
I resolved to take a steadier approach, one that would preserve my dignity and if delivered right could also prove devastatingly effective.
I decided to ignore her completely.
Pretend not to notice as she didn’t turn her head to mine as I prepared breakfast or failed to gain her attention as I emphatically hummed along to Sun Kil Moon in the hope that my deep appreciation of the music – so displayed – would let her know of my disarming and unfathomable sensitivity.
This was good – I was holding strong – and it stayed that way as I sat across from her and began to write.
Her interest piqued.
I noticed her glance over as I could do nothing other than appear completely absorbed in my work.
“What are you writing?” she asked. My ears praying that her tone betrayed a nonchalance broken at last.
“Oh just…” “Expressing” I might have added.
She rose to leave.
So my day was happily a flurry of activity and dampened expectations as I enjoyed a day off of blissful mundanity. The kind when even underwear seems like a petty luxury, oats and coffee the richest satisfaction.
(Turns out I’m a working man, albeit a lazy one)
Thoughts only turned once or twice to her.
Until I arrived home at 9.30 to my flat. It’s inhabitants glowing after a contented dinner, chatting to my flatmate, when fresh from the shower – Thank God! – in she strode.
My flatmate, inexplicably, made an excuse and left.
And she, just as inexplicably sat beside me in her towel, drops on her skin giving off the scent of some sweet detergent..
We spoke easily and leafed through a book of photographic nudes lying on the floor.
Then, just as easily, she lay her head on my shoulder.
And we kissed.
And it was a devoted kiss. One designed to last for eternity.
Which was good, because I left for work the next morning and never saw her again.
8 years ago