“Would you date yourself?” she asked.
I don’t know where it came from but there was a steeliness in her voice and a melancholy that danced in her eyes from a distance. I could almost see the reflection of her broken spirit in her glassy eyes. It was not like me to be caught off guard. I did not see this coming, I thought everything was perfect. I had painted a picture, a masterpiece and I was proud of it. I had laid a foundation of words that came to life and danced around in her head. Words that made her smile.
“Was it real?” she asked again.
I couldn’t help but stare at her. At her feet, at her shoes, at her dress that ended right below the knees. How the frills moved slowly in the non-existent wind. I looked beyond her shoulders avoiding her eyes. She was resigned, shrugging, defeated but there was hope. A glimmer which she ignored but secretly hoped I’d catch. A hope she hoped I’d let grow. I could feel her heart beat, it was fast and restless. I didn’t know it, but at that moment I was her rock, or could be her rock. I could be a lot of things, I could be the wave that crashed her. I didn’t want to do any crashing.
“Yes.” I said.
I didn’t know what I said yes to. I don’t think she cared to clarify. The mist in her eyes begun to clear I could see her brown eyes widen, subtly, mine was a straw she clutched on. A drowning person doesn’t need much incentive. Her leg twitched, she bit her lower lip and she put her hands behind her back. She stood there waiting, waiting for me to paint a new picture. She waited, unmoved, patient waiting to see how my brush stroked. But what she waited for the most was my words, she needed to hear them. She was okay with the glimmer but even glimmers get dull she needed something brighter.
I took her hand in mine and brought it close to my mouth. I let my warm breath touch it before my lips did. For the first time in the minutes we stood there I looked into her eyes. Eyes eager with expectation, she didn’t blink. These are moments that can disappear with the wind, go forever with the blink of an eye. That was not a risk she was willing to take. She looked at my lips hoping to see them tremble or at least see them part.
“I would date myself. But…” I said my voice trailing off a little bit
She looked at me intently. This is what she had been waiting for. She wanted to know. I don’t know why. She had been okay with everything before now. But now she had a need to know an insatiable need that consumed her.
“…I’d only do it once.”
I don’t know what those words meant or what she thought they meant but she hugged me, tight. She started saying everything would be okay, only I wasn’t sure when they had started not being okay. I wanted to know how it feels. How it is to wake up and think about someone like me. For a brief moment in her embrace a cold chill went down my spine, for the first time in years I was scared.
She isn’t huge, she has trouble opening a sealed bottle of water, so I wasn’t afraid she’d suffocate me in her embrace, or that she’d choke me. I was scared because at that moment, in the nakedness of truth she did not run. She took me in and embraced me. This was scary, at no point in my life had anyone ever stayed beyond this.
“I think life is a song…” I said
“No, I think life is an iPod. Yes, an iPod. Life is definitely an iPod.”
“Okay, so it’s an iPod. What’s playing?”
“No. Yesterday.” She frowned “Of course right now.”
“Right now it’s silent. There’s nothing playing. Probably transitioning to the next song.”
“What do you think the next song is?”
“It’s on shuffle I couldn’t guess even if I wanted. It could be hard rock, metal maybe or mellow sounds from an indie singer or just music to make us dance.”
“Do you want to dance?”
“I don’t know. Maybe.”
“But you rarely dance…”
“Maybe now… today… is rare.”
We had been at it for weeks. I had been painting a picture and she had been taking it in. it was unfolding beautifully. Words would dance around our tongues and the uncertainty was long gone. It was weird and strange but also beautiful and lovely. We were an imperfect match but therein lay our perfection. It’s amazing how quirks keep things interesting.
She took my hand and we danced or she danced and I followed her lead. There was no music, it was all in our head. We turned round and round laughing, smiling, laughing harder and smiling more. Then the dancing came to a stop, her eyes were misty again. It had been a while. This time I did not see uncertainty I saw fear. She was afraid. I wanted to ask her what she feared but I did not. There’s something about acknowledging fears that forces you to face them. I was not ready. I fear fears. I fear her fears most. Her fears instill fear in me. The music transitioned, it didn’t play Kool and the Gang so we did not dance, it did not play something more urban so we could feel like we owned an expensive car and were driving down a street with the windows rolled down. No it played Symphony no 7.
She did not need to speak. I could tell that she was afraid of how effortless it had all become. We, she, I did not need to try – things just happened. You know that feeling when everything is complete and you can see the perfect ending but deep down you know there’s still time, like a movie at the 1 hour 45 minute mark, you know there’s still time for drastic turn of events. Time to make a happy ending not so happy. Time for the villain to come back to life and screw things up.
Again she needed a clearer picture and beautiful words. But my tongue had run dry and my brush was worn out. I had painted enough pictures and flowered enough words. Just a I was about to give up she looked at me and asked
“Would you date yourself?”
At that moment I knew I needed to get new brushes.