Before saying, I love you, our eyes held their gaze with visible hunger. After, I watched him lower his to inventory the lines on the palms of his immense hands. As the seconds mounted, I listened to the wall of silence going up around us. It drowned out the crowded bar room buzz of the happy hour crowd.
He placed one hand flat on the table’s surface, and with the other, he ran his fingers through his wiry pepper-colored hair. His eyes took flight and locked on something behind my left shoulder. I turned to accompany his eyes as they traveled the room. Their destination was the EXIT sign hanging over the door at the back of the bar. I broke the trance of the silence filling the two-foot gap separating us by clearing my throat.
My hands trembled and longed for the warmth of his skin, for our fingers to entwine, for his to squeeze mine letting me know love was an option. I wanted something beyond the previous weeks we had spent tangled in sheets. I willed his eyes to meet mine, prayed for a sign, for a smile of acceptance, but none came. His chocolate colored eyes returned to our table and locked on his left and right hands clasping the bottle of Heineken as his slender fingers picked at the label. I pulled my trembling hands from the surface, slid each under it’s own thigh, and held them hostage in the warmth between my leg and the faux red leather cushion
He stopped shredding the bottle’s label long enough to pull out his wallet. He dropped money on the table to cover the cost of our bar bill and then slid his lanky torso off the stool. He stepped forward, stopping at my side long enough to bend over and kiss me gently on my right cheek. A goodbye kiss lacks the hunger of hello. His lips lingered on my cheek as if he was considering the option but in the end, he left me alone at the table. In seconds, the happy hour noise broke down the wall of silence created by three benign words that once stitched together, become deathly poisonous between unexpected lovers.
The Euro Rail Pass cost €933.00 and travels through 21 countries for 3 continuous months. Maybe somewhere, over the next three months while I am crossing a border into one of these countries I’ll make peace within and my thoughts will be my own. This is the fourth day on the train journey and those thoughts I am looking forward to reclaiming remain elusive. Fat juicy thoughts once worthy of writing, even discussing, have halted production. Now it’s frozen images of me and that moment, the moment, I first whispered three insignificant words across a table to the only man I ever loved.
How did I get to this age and have not learned love is devastatingly painful, that it can change the color of the sky, the taste of food, the smell of roses, and the pace of my stride? Until him, I lived inside of my head. I had my books, the music I never was whole without, my family—close but not too—and the strength to take life on my own terms. I left love to the poets and writers because it never took my fancy or breath. A part of me understood I should be looking for it, but having seen the women in my life double over in pain or lying face down in polyester filled pillows for months on end only surfacing with puffed and blood shot eyes, I opted to leave the need unexplored. Love looked dicey.
Now I am on a train going somewhere. The old man at the kiosk, where I stopped today to buy a bottle of water, some chocolate, and a blank journal, asked me if I was a writer, a photographer, or simply running from love. What an odd question I thought when he asked, but now that I am making notes to myself in this journal, I think maybe he’s seen his share of people running from heartache. It’s in my eyes, the look of loss. It’s hardly detectable, unless you’re a hundred year old man who has spent his life at train terminals selling blank journals.
“Get this one,” he told me, “It has more pages than the one you picked out. You’ll have lots of time to write.” His yellow teeth from too many hand-rolled cigarettes flashed warmth.
I don’t think I misread the situation, or my lover. I have to believe he was worth this crushing feeling. I tell myself that just maybe at the end of three continuous months of travel under a heavy blanket of clouds and through twenty-one countries, I might find some peace. Until then, I’ll assume the identity of a writer on holiday taking pictures and making notes in a journal.
Life is about options.
If you have the time, tell me where you would take the story of, that’s another thing, what are their names.
I read an article on the HP site, today – about the need for men’s fiction, and how there isn’t any. After reading, I thought t I’d like to pretend I was George Eliot, write a story for men, and send along to Esquire.
I’m looking for a co-author interested in writing the man’s side of the story, to go the distance, to submit. My story – is a woman’s POV. Interested?
Or simply share your ideas about what comes next.