Everything I’ve said up to this point has been a lie.
I know this to be true, for if I told anyone I loved them I did not, and whatever I owned to has been a misuse of my time and energy.
I saw her at a distance and fell in love. Instantly; the attraction was so strong, so compelling and irresistible.
You’ll say I’m odd, for it’s bound to seem that way. Modern people don’t just fall head over heels. No way.
She was dressed all in black, this paragon of virtue and desire, bundled against the cold. Her face white, pinched, nose tweaked with chill. Reddish hair peeping from beneath the bonnet she wore. We did not speak – how could I speak, overcome with fear and emotion – but I consciously registered her at my heart. A perfect specimen.
I fell in love. What else can a grown man do but follow his heart?
She was walking the dog, and I followed, maintaining a practical distance so as not to lose her. All the time practising my opening lines, but whatever I came up with seemed inadequate and I knew I’d get it wrong. So much depended upon the right note, the right tone; the right approach.
Snowflakes fell as the gloomy day deepened into twilight. Despite this she moved slowly, almost ambling with the dog tugging her along. For one second I thought she was anticipating an approach, but she gave no sign. Indeed she appeared completely oblivious to my presence. And as I followed, drifting in her wake now, my heartstrings tugged, my head pounded from the sheer effort of will required to maintain distance and keep impulse under check.
My throat remained dry, lips parched. I don’t know why I continued to hesitate, but I did, with the compulsion to call out growing stronger. I felt like a teenager again, hesitant, afraid. Terrified she would turn a corner to disappear from my life forever. And then she did, in the blink of an eye she was gone. I felt devastated, running towards the vanishing point as if she’d been a figment of my imagination, but I knew otherwise. Kicking myself for not speaking up.
She had to have entered one of three terraced houses along the street, and I stood before them feeling a fool, hoping for some movement beyond or clue to tell me which I should approach. I waited on the street with snow floating down, settling on my shoulders and finding a way into nose and eyes. My heart remained in my mouth with legs aching from the effort at controlling the desire to run forward and knock at each door in turn. It felt ironic; it felt like a trial of courage at which I was a failing candidate.
The houses remained silent with no outward sign of life within, front windows masked by drawn curtains and with the light failing I felt certain there would be no further movement on a cold evening such as this. By now I was shivering with fear and apprehension, shaking to the foundation of my boots, and as I did I let out a kind of wail. The kind an animal in pain employs to let others of his kind know he is suffering, and in that moment a front door opened, revealing my angel of virtue, my vision of loveliness arm in arm with another woman. But then they kissed, deeply, passionately upon the lips.
I felt blow after blow strike against my chest, knowing I’d lost her long before we ever met and might never possess her. Exhaustion crept over me as I fell against the hedge, dislodging snow that engulfed neck and shoulders. I let out a gasp as it slid down my back, causing the women to stare in my direction but I felt unable to meet their gaze, brushing myself down with a curse. And then my darling’s companion slid into a car with a breezy “See you later tonight”, driving away at speed. In that instant my distant beauty closed the door and I was once again on the outside, feeling cold gnaw into my bones. I made my way home a wiser man.
Did I imply at the outset that everything I’d said had been a lie? Certainly some of it, but life presents us with boundless opportunities to revise our opinions and learn the errors of our ways. Tonight I’ve got homework to undertake and I’m keeping company with a bottle of Jack Daniels until I get the darn thing right.
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