He remembered how he bumped into them going into the office but she wouldn’t even look at him in the eye, as if he wasn’t the motherfucker that she used to kill time with in bed. He had hugged her the night before with dry-ice chill, because he knew he would see her for the last time? He was prophetic: she never even left a farewell note: she was gone for days, to cool off & her confidante covered up for her neatly: she wasn’t in her usual haunts. She got scared? She lost interest in an old toy she finally found fit for the dump? Things happened years ago but it seemed just yesterday.
They did meet each other again a decade later – she with her boyfriend she shielded somewhat from his eyes. Yes, they’re settling here for the meantime. Could he visit them at the apartment? She had some fresh Arabic coffee. (Ha-ha) Then she hurried off to an appointment befitting a young bureaucrat on the rise. He stood there with that idiotic smile on his lips, bludgeoned by something like a ghost sprung from the dead, muttering all he was thinking of those green years never really happened. (Ha-ha)
He could almost hear a pin drop on the floor when she sent word she couldn’t make it to lunch: some things had come up. Yes, there was smiley… But again it was that face he had put on when someone left in a huff with a husband in tow. Yes, he had come to know through the years of late growing up Paul Simon’s 50 ways to leave a lover – & this moment was repeating itself like a disease. Did it finally dawn on him that Nietzsche’s theory of recurrence concerns the heart, never the Overman?
When he chanced upon her, she was slightly distracted. Hi, she said, almost mordantly. Hi, he said, almost cavalierly. She’s hurrying to some place, but never mentioned she was to meet her new guy. He quickly smiled a goodbye, but he thought it was all foretold: there was nothing deep between them & he was the usual fool to be taken in by high-roller expectations. It’s a story older than him, anyway, but he never learned the sorry lesson.
When he first met her, there was something in his guts that made him suppose, this is it, she’s the one. But he overheard her drooling over her lover with the saccharine sweetness of a woman in love. He finally got it, he was out of the game even before he could play. He was stupid to believe in happy endings. Of course, he fled the scene. He had embarrassed himself: it was propitious nobody noticed, anyway. When he drank his beer alone, away from it all, he stared blankly at the overflowing froth like a dead rat eyes half-open in the mud.
But how would he know he’s doomed from the very start? He’d had the bad habit of mistaking sweetness for passion of the blood – O, he was a poor judge of character (his own actually) & when it hit him like a hammer, still he’d never see the club swinging from on high & smashing him to bits like an insect. He could manage to take note of his slow, pathetic falling. His moans even elicited some muffled laughter. “Another one bites the dust,” but it wouldn’t be the first time in the long, jaded history of difficult loves.
She said to him – it would be better for him to leave the room & let her be. He was dumbstruck in a masculinist way, then recovering why it would happen to him: O How he desired her every hour on the hour yet he still couldn’t get enough of her. O But she wasn’t aware of it, or didn’t give a damn. She had her own moments to care about & he had long vanished from her mind’s eye.
At the café he’s the usual guy on a lockdown mode: keeping to himself, now & then breaking into a half-smile as he turned to the fellow across the table: surely, he’s observing the ritual of drunken conviviality. The morning after, he’d shrug off a terrible hang-over, then get back to staring at his hands as if there were big holes burnt into them he must fill up for the day. But at lunch, a heavy meal would ease some pain as if it’s the same old story old travelers leave behind… (O But he was young then, purblind to heartaches.)
She had settled down with him (her poundage would show), hopefully, the last “true” love, like her kids. Her day would start checking out hubby’s official busyness. Then, like clockwork, picking up the brood from school; shopping to break the humdrum habits of her day – now & then she would blankly stare at her Starbucks coffee as if searching for that old flame who made her feel so cherished but it would stay stirred & dark like memory. She’d start the wagon, groaning as she pressed on gas to meet her man, at the bureaucratic hour, like he were the first & last ever. (O She’s old; who’d give her a second look?)
So the heart turns like the world, on its perennial axis: tweedledum & tweedledee – & lovers barely keep the hearth burning as they wait out dusk & morning: embracing tightly to slacken as time ticks incomprehensively: lessons are never learned for ever the mystery of love & separation is the worm in the apple at the garden. Everyone moves on brutishly, skeletons of passion turn up like wreckage of boats churned out by the bottom of the sea.