The evening died slowly. Deep thick clouds loomed overhead weeping never ending tears of pity, refusing the romance the moon is always anxious to induce. There was no common ground, only the distance of their words. She avoided him with small talk, as he did with her. Her flirting had annoyed him; his lack of humour had bored her. The unbearable oppression of silence was the only bond their free-falling egos could grasp as the futility of their attempted fantasy began to realise itself within the void of their separateness. It was not even midnight, the streets were teeming with odious couples play- acting love in the smug drunken fog. The unlucky ones roamed mindless in packs of four or five, eyes open for prey, intoxicated with lust and violence. Eros sat bleeding at a late night bar staring deep into his whisky.
The taxi took forever. The heavy night imposed its will on those unable to resist its timeless call. He was doomed to this moment for eternity- an eternity that wrapped around him, smothering with icy embrace. His lot was laid out before him: to endure this emptiness as would a living statue- conscious, soulless, watching this night with all its lost possibilities repeating itself before his ever-open eyes, powerless to act or to rouse himself from his sanctimonious indulgence in some self-appointed martyrdom. His life henceforth would be some dream, construct, some desperate distraction to aid an escape, for a while, from this street of faceless lechery and meaningless theatre mocking his idealism. His destiny now would be one of flight from all this, and to return over and over, again and again to this hollow laughter- thin, cutting deep into the damp cold air, and to that ever-souring perfume she wears- once intoxicating, now repellent- churning up self-pity from the depths of his belly: at each awakening as one of countless dreams fades, to return over and over to the eternal reality that breaks and lies behind all illusion.
She had invited him back to her place, he had declined. Some mention of unwell had passed his lips, she acknowledged what he meant perfectly well. Oh how he wished he could retract that! Isn't that why he was here? Why they were here? For that? he had hoped. . . well he didn't know what he had hoped for, and it was all too late now. He had hoped he could have loved her. He wanted to love her, he had tried but there was nothing between them, nothing beyond her agitated half-laugh, and how her fidgeting fingers had obsessed him all night! Her swollen discomfort cast a shadow over the two of them, all the better for uncertainty to steal their desire as they squint in the darkness looking for one another.
She secretly despised him, he knew, for rejecting her. If only he could change that and say Yes then everything would be better. It could be better this time. He might not feel so empty with her. He wanted to change his mind and take up her challenge but he was too scared for recklessness, too proud to admit error, and besides he had already hurt her once, she wouldn't want him now. If only then she had given him a sign that she really cared, he could have loved her, it could have been different. . . -Breaking glass smashed somewhere -as if to wake him, remind him of his whereabouts. She used the moment to clear her throat - was that communication? Each mirrored the others' disquiet, salient, terse, screaming out with horror the wrongness of their estrangement in the shattered silence.
Her capacity for understanding had deserted her. She was confused and frustrated; one minute he would be joking with her, eyes narrowed wickedly, a faint smile across those pursed lips- secretly suggesting something. . .something decadent. Then he would become withdrawn and cold. Why had he come at all? It was as if he didn't want to be there, as if he had been thrown screaming into all this, obliged by duty to perform some unpleasant business. She couldn't understand him. She feared he didn't trust her, as if her presence was intruding on some secret he nurtured that he valued more than anything and refused to let the world near. She had tried to put him at ease by inviting him back, surely that showed him she cared. She wouldn't do that for just anybody. He refused and she was thrown off balance, angry too at the nonchalance with which, by changing the conversation he evaded her offer as if the words had never left her mouth. She wished they hadn't. She was let down by her impetuous foolishness, again. To think that someone might. . . that he might want her was ridiculous. His rejection reminded her . . .it seemed the past was always with you. The faces changed but it was always the same. There was an underlying desolation- infinite, eternal, hiding in the shadows, waiting for unwary dreamers. It couldn't hurt you if you didn't hope, she knew for she had been there, but she had dared to drop her guard and could feel herself now being sucked back down into darkness. This time she had thought it would be different, she did like him, she had thought that maybe. . . well it was all too late now. But she could have loved him, she'd wanted to love him, she'd tried so hard but there was no feeling there in his blank expression, no warmth in his body- twitching with unease from some melancholic shame, nothing in the eyes- he wouldn't even look at her, and that bored monotonous voice needed no words to tell her he didn't care. her hope was betrayed, fate as always with the final word.
He lit his cigarette, then offered his light for her as she fumbled with her packet. They spent a few more aching moments searching for some words to speak before he saw the taxi approaching. Something must be said now, something that could save this, surely there is something somebody could say if only. . . if only. The car drew closer, it would have to be now. Time had surprised them, come crashing through their eternal pain- they were shocked and unready. Somewhere at a late night bar more whiskey was ordered.
'I'll give you a call' he mumbled as he waved his arm so as not to let the vehicle pass and extend this humiliation.
'Yes' she replied as she dropped her cigarette into a puddle and climbed into the back of the car.
The wind seemed to pick up as she disappeared around the corner and his drenched frame began to shudder with cold. Had she looked back? He couldn't tell and felt too weak to care. Fatigue was setting in, his head fell forward so that his weary eyes could dimly watch his feet slowly walk him through the rain, home.