Long journeys have a way of coming to an end he thought as he waited for Viola’s plane to land. Years have a way of falling through the hands like sand until all that’s left is the last grain, a pebble that represents the immensity of all that came before but one pebble, something small that can be considered and comprehended.
He had pasted a smile on his face in preparation, your lover leaves for all that time and you are not sure. It doesn’t matter what you tell yourself, it doesn’t matter what you believe about human decency and the strength of your bond all that matters is that the flesh is weak and faith follows its vessel. Even all the preparations for weakness, all that proper pragmatism doesn’t keep you from being wounded and scars may scab but that says nothing for the pain they harbour.
Your lover leaves and the truth is your body becomes weak too. Your flesh yearns and there were many times when lust was the last memory before regret. And regret he did. He couldn’t help it. But he wasn’t sure if he regretted the mistake or the fact that he couldn’t lord his purity over her anymore. He would know inside he wasn’t better than her and this hurt, not as much as betrayal would but there was no betrayal yet just his thoughts and his betrayals. But a man has to eat he told himself, then why did his stomach ache so much? he should have wondered but this was not the time for sad thoughts. The first surge of passengers was coming through and paste his smile back he did.
Viola was tired. She had flown across seas and oceans; she had been gone for so long that she knew nothing would look the same again. She had that feeling familiar to all long gone people coming back home. A tinge of excitement ran down her but even surer was the feeling that she had changed too much or perhaps home had. There was a fear it would be like watching a movie you liked as a child and being completely unable to relate to yourself. It was unsettling and in the pit of her stomach she was more scared than happy. This was why she sat and let the rest leave the plane first. This was why she took her bags ever so slowly as she prepared to go back into the world she had left behind. A longer preservation of the memory she held dear was needed.
Besides she wasn’t ready to face him.
Promises are kept or they are broken and that’s the way of the world. She had kept hers as best as she could but she still felt like she hadn't. Physical betrayal hurts, but it doesn’t hurt the worst. And they had their understanding, implicit as only a mental wink can be. Silent and never to be talked about. there was also the promise regarding coming back, starting a life when she was finished. It was a promise to hold things in stasis. A promise that she wouldn't change and that he wouldn’t either, a promise that when she got back they could pick it up from where it was no questions asked, no time passed, no bonds broken, no barriers unbreachable.
And looked around at the bubble of the airport again. The whirring of the luggage conveyors as they went round and round and round. Her thoughts swirled too. She was supposed to be happy, she supposed she was but even more she was scared.
She gripped her suitcase firmly and began walking.
The pasty smile had turned doughy now and like putty fallen away from his face. There was no frown on, not yet. He appreciated the time to think and think he did. Yes they had an agreement, unspoken but no less acquiesced to however his indiscretions were in a radius that he would walk into. Their presence in the air he breathed made it heavy, he hated that he felt guilty and he was jealous of his friends who wouldn’t and he felt jealous of her who had left behind what if any she had done far far away. If anyone would be caught it would be him and then she could magnanimously forgive him. A chance he wouldn’t have and then he would feel even smaller. The agreement was of silence after all, discretion was necessary for silence and he had not been discreet, not all the time.
And then he saw her come through the doors, her bags weighed down by memories and thoughts and he left all his behind. In the end his guilt was not formed out of thin air, it was not based on empty emotion, he loved this woman and all he wanted to do was to hoist her in his arms and forget all that had happened.
She looked up and saw a look of pure joy. And she responded the way we all respond. Since childhood we are taught to treat love with love, love God because he first loved us, love our parents because they took care of us, showered us with emotion, love ourselves because… well that may be the only true love. But seeing such naked joy, such bright love on his face she responded in kind.
All her worries were washed away in a second, inside that smile and in that heart there is a way. I will it to be.
And for just a moment it was. They hugged and in that hug there was the best of everything they had left behind. The unspoken promises and the unsaid understandings, the silence of not having to speak in order to be heard. Peace and warmth. Love and peace.
“How was your trip?” And just like that it was over. Words have a way of intruding where they are not wanted, of finding their way into places where all they can do is break things apart. The real reason for war is words, without them understanding would be possible but with them…
“It was fine” Weariness had crept into her voice, a silent sigh. A need to speak about something more important, amnesia about the need for small talk to bridge that gap.
“Am happy to hear that, you look really tired though it must have been so long.” In his there was a wound, a touch of pain that the sight of him couldn’t wake her up as it woke up Barb… he shook his head out of that, thinking about her right now would be a betrayal.
“Yes it was a long trip but am happy to be back, just tired.” The stars had stopped peeking through the sky she noticed. The clouds were gathering already and it would rain as it always did here.
“It looks like rain clouds.” She added. Fatality creeping in and making her more tired. Had she expected the very weather of home to change, had she thought just because she felt different even the sky would change.
“Either that or its their bastard son.” He knee jerked like he always had with her. A joke that had long ago sacrificed humour on the feet of repetition but it was a memory they shared, a déjà vu and the joke wasn’t the joke. Or more rightly the smile wasn’t owed to the joke but to the memory everything was owed. To the memory that peace of a smile was owed, so why wasn’t he smiling. Why was he smirking as he said it? Why did he not even act like that deserved happiness.
“Could be its long lost daughter, she has bumps and men, well bastards at least, don’t cry as she’s preparing to.” A rejoinder she should have thought of a long, long time ago but that wasn’t her back then. Her back then would have flinched at the word bastard but people change.
Then he laughed, he laughed long and loud.