A pink purse. A silhouette and a bottle of wine. Where I am I don’t exactly know. But I do know that I’m waiting for someone, so I sit, and I wait. It is strange because I know he is here, but when will he show his face? So I wait.
People are bustling around me but I cannot hear their noise. They show no interest in me – except a woman at another table. She looks at me from time to time, and her eyes are not kind. There is only a feeling. A worry, as if I might be the one who is late. Maybe I’m too late, and maybe he is gone, but the worry is that he is gone for good. And that would do me no good since I came here to save him.
My breath allays when I see him walking toward the table. I relax and I get up to greet him. Such a face shouldn’t go unkissed, such a friend shouldn’t go unsaved. We smile. He reaches me. We touch hands. There is a scuffle and he is gone.
A hallway of red and gold. Wooden doors with small brass knockers. A ship of sorts? Maybe a hotel? Either way I find myself quickly moving through corridors as if I am running from something, to get to something – someone else. I feel out of breath, but the images move across my eyes slowly, as if no detail could be left out. There is a motion underneath me that I cannot place, a sensation that moved me more than I thought I was moving. No matter – I need to get away.
Dodging into a room I find myself stumbling upon someone else and they are not happy. The woman from before, who made unkind eyes. She stands in a slip and glares as if I have interrupted the climax of her evening. The steel from her eyes matches the barrel in her hand. Suddenly he is there, and he looks at me as if he could take me away and save me. The light in his eyes, the wounding blast ended in a splash and I watched him dive into the ocean.
The water waving goodbye. My tense cheeks against the wind. I traveled away, disheartened. I sailed what I thought was far, but when I rested for the night, I felt him there, trying to save me. I could only find him again, save him, from what or how I didn’t know just yet. I wasn’t alone, and I knew it – I searched anyway.
On land finally, I went to a party, still searching. As I danced I watched him approach. I knew he swam across the world to be here. It doesn’t matter how because it only lasted a moment – then we were gone.
Gulls and clouds overhead. People all over the dock. It had to end, we knew it, but we didn’t like it. He wasn’t there to see me off, but this part I remember best. The giant boat lay in wait for me, calling me home. He couldn’t say goodbye in person, so he called me on the phone. While we talked I pretended not to be crying, and laughed instead. I turned around because of something he said, and I saw him, turning a corner, the phone still to his ear. I see him but I don’t believe it. My arm moved away from my face, but I couldn’t move my feet, my eyes.
He moved toward me, his eyes intent on keeping me. When he was close enough all he said – all I heard – was, “I can’t let you go. I can’t say goodbye.” Words so potent they poured over his teeth, through his eyes into the foreground of our lives.
So here I am, thinking I would get a sprinkling of goodbye on the phone, instead a hurricane of hello face to face. I want to kiss him, to show that I feel it too, but something holds me back – another face, another love, another time. I am brave. I take a step toward him.
A smooth blue dress. Cigarettes and martinis with gin. I am looking for him still. But I know he is not here. I do not feel his presence behind the curtain, or across the room. Her unkind eyes catch me and they don’t let me go until I am next to her. I sip my cocktail waiting for her voice. She doesn’t speak. Only those eyes.
I explode. I tell all – how I lost him, why I can’t go back. The step I cannot afford to take, but I took it anyway. The constricting feeling of clothing settles into my lungs. She stops me, as if I speak like a child. Her eyes say more than I want to hear. And only this from her tongue: “Maybe, just maybe, you were turning around.”