- Vol. 04
- Chapter 05
Look! you said softly to someone sitting beside you: your best friend I found out later, Look at her hands! Several feet away, in conversation with one of your party guests, I fanned my long fingers out elegantly around the glass of red wine I was holding, conscious of your eyes on me.
I had known you for one week. Although we had met, had had a brief, but intense, political discussion at a party on a houseboat belonging to a mutual acquaintance two summers before – a time when I would not have considered protecting my hands with sunscreen. You left while the party was in full swing, for some reason. And after your departure I did not give you a moment’s thought. Not that day. Not that summer. Nor in the intervening months that made up the next two years. Not until your voice on the telephone said, Remember me? You had tracked down my number; I was ex-directory. My illusiveness, perhaps, stoking your desire.
Look, you said, I happen to be in the area. Mind if I call by on this inhospitable evening?
It was blowing a gale at the time, the streets almost empty.
Presumptuous? Standing at the door, a wry smile on your face, a bottle of champagne in your hand. It’s already chilled!
Of course you already knew it was not presumptuous. That look. Those dark, dark eyes. How, I wondered, could I have forgotten you?
A little later, a month or so, work took you to Paris for a few days. You were to come back with a supply of good red wine. You were going to miss me, you said.
Several days later you returned several hours later than promised. You had not telephoned to say why. You had not telephoned to say you missed me.
Look ... you said, pausing, those dark eyes not looking into mine. Look, this isn’t really working, is it. Isn’t it? I said, tears welling, hands clasped together for comfort in my lap.
No, you said, pacing the room, collecting up your belongings, casually strewn about the flat. No, I don’t think it is. And scooping up two paperbacks, one I was only halfway through, the other which was mine, your hand already on the door knob you said, Think I’d better go!
No! I said. No! Grasping your sleeve.
Please don’t, you said, and prising my fingers from your arm you closed the door behind you, leaving me a crumpled, crying heap on the floor.
How fleeting and fickle love can be, I think now. And how foolish. Foolish to still think of someone who, had he not come into my life for a second time, I would not have given a second thought to. Foolish to look upon that as love. Foolish to look down at the blotchy thinning skin of my ageing hands and wonder whose hand is in his now.