a not-such-a-valentine's-day-story.

she sat in the cool, dark theatre. surrounded by strangers. a book on her lap, waiting for the play to begin.

she had come to see him. in the play, on the stage. come to see him, tell a story.

but she was sitting so close. and wanted so desperately to move, just a little. wanted to be further away--wanted to make it harder for his eyes to light upon her during some great scene or important moment. didn't want to be privy to a moment in which the fourth wall broke.

perhaps it was that she knew they were breaking. maybe that was the real impulse to move, to run, to escape to the light beyond the theatre.

but she stayed, marveled as the words of the playwright tumbled around in the actors' mouths, and then  sat across from him at dinner.

and when things were good, there was nothing she liked more than sitting across from him, sharing his space, being close enough that his laughter could land on her--she had forgotten that all these many months later--she had thought she had nothing nice to say. and that that was the real tragedy. that she had fallen for the markers of a man and not the man himself. but she had forgotten that without him ever even looking her way she could feel his awareness, his enrapture. total and complete. and it felt good.

life and its many shades of grey.

because for all the warmth he aroused, he also stirred something deep and sad within her. and he didn't want to know that. to touch that. to taste that. so he'd flirt with the bartender as she sat quietly on the adjacent stool. or so it seemed.

in fact, it all seemed a bit ridiculous now. the few extra blocks she'd walk out of her way in those first few months after it unraveled--charged both by the dread and hope that she might see him. or the now untouched bottle of perfume in bottom drawer of her dresser. she couldn't stomach the scent; he had so liked it.

she ran into a friend recently. a friend who had sat in the same cool, dark theatre on the same winter-swept night. and watched the play with the same tumbling words. said friend asked about the guy, remarked that her own attendance at the play had sparked a series of messages between the two, culminating in their own ill-fated date.

and there it was.

she had sat in the theatre, worried that his eyes would find her too easily. what a needless worry. for in fact his eyes had found someone else that night.

yes, yes. it all seemed a bit ridiculous now.