It is not as you believe, my Angel. I am not a bad man. You may think it odd that we have never spoken. I stand within ten feet of you, my Love, and the words falter, trapped in my throat. I wait for you on the platform this morning and when I don’t see you I begin my search. I spy you in the last car, walking to your seat. You prefer the solitude of the quiet car. I get that.
I juggle my briefcase and my coffee, taking up more than my allotted half of the aisle, but I see that you are nimble, my Love Light. I stop, and wait, and hope, but you have contorted yourself into a time-space continuum where anything is possible. You glide past me without so much as our arm hairs touching.
Now the interminable ticking of my watch is all that separates us. The train slows; the doors open. I walk from the platform to the street, jostled by the nameless, the faceless, carrying backpacks and briefcases. Their eyes do not shine like my Love’s.
And then you are there, barely yards from me, my Aphrodite, your white dress resplendent in the morning sun, your lush hair tousled by the gentle wind, surrounding a face that would make Venus jealous. Your long, sinewy legs stride with an athlete’s grace. I must hurry!
You sense me, but do not turn as I close the gap and we cross the street in tandem. What bliss! The sidewalk is deserted; just you, my Madonna, and me, our destinies intertwined, inevitable.
My footstep behind you, adoration at a glance. Did you notice? I run a hand through my thinning hair and smile. But what is this? What’s that look in your eye? Are you upset this morning, my Goddess? Perhaps tired? I walk on, exactly one half-step behind you, but your pace quickens. You are determined. The heat rises to my cheeks; the odd bead of sweat now joined by half a dozen others. I take several shallow breaths and plunge in; we walk side by side.
My ecstasy knows no bounds. How many times have you looked away? A hundred? A thousand? My Love, my Captive; now you cannot ignore me. We walk, not an arm’s length apart. I would encircle you with my own two, would you give me the slightest signal.
My eyes implore: LOOK AT ME; but your eyes look only ahead, my Angel, as you float along on winged feet. We cross the bridge in tandem. Your proximity is intoxicating. You smell like a breeze off the ocean. I open my mouth to speak, but you are looking away, to the river below at some distant prize on the horizon. Your feet belie their wings, my Love. Are you flying? My heart pounds the narrow walls of my chest seeking an audience. Another bead of sweat careens along my cheekbone before dive-bombing to the ground. I think I hear it plop. More stand ready. I steal a glance, but you do not notice.
Another breath, this one more shallow. Your pace is maddening, unwavering, and I struggle to keep up. My lungs scream for a rest, a cigarette. You pull away. Please! Not now that we are so close.
I glance at your face, sculpted by Michelangelo himself. Are you not tiring, my Love? My arms and legs pump wildly, valiantly, trying to match your stride. My love swells and my heart wrenches, threatening to burst its walls. You show no signs of slowing. Soon we will be at a cross street; the moment lost forever. I must do something.
“It’s a lot easier walking than I thought it would be this morning. I thought it would be hotter.” Was that my voice? I do not recognize it.
You turn your head to face me, the Goddess in you saluting the God in me. But what is in your eyes? Hostility? Rebuke? Or maybe just the heat. Eternity passes. Did you hear me, my Queen?
“Just wait until midday.”
Your first words! But…now? Sarcasm? Vowels and consonants hang, suspended like greenhouse gasses. Your eyes lance my skin.
Beads of sweat form armies on my brow. Some disband, trekking out on reconnaissance missions. A millennium passes much too slowly. You walk faster still, if that is at all possible. Our thirty year age difference wears on me. I pray for rain that I might offer you my umbrella, but the cloudless sky laughs. The light changes. We stop. I squeeze out the words, clawing their way to my throat. I reel, all six acupuncture pulses echoing in my forehead. I suck in ambient air like a vacuum; it pummels my lungs like shrapnel.
The light turns green and I charge ahead, taking the first step, knowing you will match my pace. Half a block by I cast a cautious glance over my shoulder. Where are you? I whirl around to see you buying fruit from a vendor. I retreat into the shelter of a doorway and watch you, unnoticed. Your pace has slowed. Are you tired, my Beguiling One?
You arrive, finally, and I emerge from the shadows to stand before you. You recoil, drop the fruit. Fruit salad sprays the sidewalk. Pineapple and orange and strawberry splatter your shoes. Your mouth goes slack. The world tips on its axis. I stand there, silently pleading. Your stare melts the glaciers.
I swallow, but my throat burns like wildfire. I stoop, gather the fruit. Remnants of melon and cantaloupe and mango trip through my fingers. I offer them to you, my outstretched hands filled with the sweet refuse. We could lie on the beach, my Sweet One, eat fruit until our bellies were full….
What’s this, my Beauty? Are you annoyed with me?
Juice slips through my fingers as a thousand needles pierce my arm. My vision diffuses, my chest seizes. I want to press my heart, but it’s my balls I grab. I leave a sweet, sticky hand print on my khaki trousers.
“I thought so,” you say, and turn to leave.
I open my mouth to speak, to cry, to confess, but the words splinter as my heart explodes. Oh, please, PLEASE, wait. Not this way, my Delicious One. I drop to one knee, then to the ground as my cheek buries itself in a slice of golden pineapple. The sharp, sweet aroma drifts into my sinuses. I watch your fruit-splattered shoes recede. I hear the distant wail of a siren. They come for me, I know. Will you ride with me, my Love?
P.J. Lazos is a participating and contributing MTW author.