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.

space. and his silence.

there have been two boys (two men, i suppose) that i have cared for. deeply.

two boys (men) who i think of.

though, not often.

not anymore at least.

but two nights ago i dreamt of one. and then today i thought i saw the other.

my mind must be sorting. figuring out where to place these two phantom figures.

and because the cup of the subconscious runneth over (so to speak), i (against my wishes) find myself thinking (consciously?) about both. with one i talk and argue and laugh and with the other we begin in silence.

and that silence is enough. always it is enough.

and so it goes. the two daydreams. the words and banter and laughter v. absolute quiet.

and the thing is, every time--every. single. time. the quiet wins. there is such peace, such love in a world where no words are needed.

image via flickr: eylul aslan

and palm to palm is holy palmer's kiss.

she was over men. over the idea of it. or maybe just overwhelmed by the idea of it.

she was tired and exhausted and intimidated into exhaustion.
wanted nothing to do with dating or meeting or having to smile.
didn't want to feign a certain level of interest.
suddenly loneliness didn't seem quite so lonely.
but preferable. safe.

but oh how she longed to feel a boy's hand in her own. just that. that simple act. the warmth and touch. mutual touch. and innocence.
yes, that was it, she longed for the innocence.
for the time before. when fingers intertwined was enough.
more than enough.

oh to go back to a time when the holding of hands was everything.

not quite closure.

she sat in a chair just a few feet from his.

she fingered the wine glass in front of her.

watched as he joked with his friends across the table.

listened to their conversations. smiled.

the bar was crowded. joyous in it's teeming capacity.

everyone knew everyone else.

the atmosphere was one of celebration and beginning. the start of something.

she felt so full with it all.

and yet.

she eyed the packet of cigarettes in front of him.

he hadn't smoked when they'd known each other.

he would turn to ask her a question, and she couldn't find the man she'd once cared for in his eyes.

she felt as though she was sitting next to a stranger. couldn't equate this person with the man she'd gone on all those dates with, the man she'd had countless daydreams about.

she knew what he was doing. well, she thought she did.

it was protection, this closing off. she understood.

he was perfectly polite. perfectly kind. it had been nice of him to include her. but he was so far away. the three feet between them belied a far greater distance.

had she hurt him? was that was this was?

she was having two experiences at once. she was enjoying her wine, enjoying meeting new people, laughing even. and yet, the person she had come for was changed in a way that she couldn't quite touch.

there was no sense of any history. any past.

and because the man sitting next to her was not the man she had loved she wondered if that man had ever existed. perhaps not.

and just like that, with that one thought, all the memories of the two of them together became memories of her alone. without. how quickly he dissolved from the images her mind paged through on slow, yawning afternoons.

it was then. and only then that she first felt her heart break. and oh how she hated that phrase. heart. break. but there it was.

never had she felt so alone. in the midst of the crowded bar. among friends and new faces she was unspeakably, unutterably alone.

she had loved him. just a little. or started to at least. she hadn't meant to hurt him. certainly not that. but mistakes are made.

so she finished her second glass of wine. kissed him on the cheek. and walked out. alone.