It’s been a while since I posted here.
It is not because I have forgotten; I’ve been working on projects, including one for the blog for the last however long.
Perhaps it is apt that the topic I am covering is that of silence.
There are many different types of relationships present in this world. A lot of them are created and held together by different causes or interests. A joint interest in a topic can bolster a friendship; a shared dislike of something will instantly create an ally; but these are only a fragment of the kind of bonds people form throughout their life. There are all those people out there you are side by side with, interdependent with perhaps who you will never meet but have a level of understanding.
A nodding acquaintance, I suppose. The people you may see on the train everyday; the person who has the same gym schedule as you; your neighbour who spends their day on their front lawn. The stories behind the transition from silent cameo to ensemble cast member can quite often be interesting, and are – obviously – not a rare occurrence. One would point out that just as all strangers are friends we are yet to meet, so must friends have been strangers once upon a time.
Some stranger than others.
There is no template for what one considers a friend/enemy/lover/acquaintance;they cannot be grouped into types/pots/divisions. Each relationship is unique, there are as many different branches of relationship as there are people on this earth. The fascinating thing (for me, perhaps only me, at least) is how each of these relationships defines – or is defined by – the exchange of words.
A kind word is not dependent on familiarity. Indeed, there are people in my life I know very little about who have my kindest words bestowed on them; there are people I know very well who will receive none. I think we have kind words for all our friends, but as I say above, the relationships are built on different things and so equally differ in what we talk about. I don’t think its an usual thing – shared\alternative history will usually create different points of perspective.
The most interesting to me though, the part that intrigues the most is what doesn’t get said in any given relationship. Where does the boundary lie with ‘too much information’? Why can I not share things with my bus driver that I share with my significant other? Then, flip-side that for fun, and what do I share with my bus driver I do not share with my SO. Probably nothing, to be honest – but, extreme examples aside, its something ponderable.
Every relationship is a collaborative journal and need not share any features of the ‘Also by this author’. Not better, or worse – just different. People cannot be ranked, rated or pigeon-holed; the many branches reach far, they reach wide; some are stronger, broader and older – but all are vital to the tree.
This the relevant segment of a piece I’ve been working on [I’m not yet completely happy with it] (*), and will be following up (hopefully relatively soon) with an expanded version, exploring a few other things. As per standard practice in this day and age with fiction – allow yourself to feast on the beginning, a teaser, if you will, of Across the Table.
*This is transcribed from my notebook…I’ve made changes and haven’t quite settled with them yet [/excuse]
She spotted him and hurried across. He was already sat; it was three minutes past the hour. She was late. The concern was all hers, since he was smiling as he spotted her, and rose to his feet. Thirty seconds before he had been as agonised as she appeared now – in her presence his demeanour became calmed. A close glance would see his glassy eyes remain; but that was not something to be shared.
A brief kiss, and a tentative hug, before they sat together across the table. She was visibly calmer but was still silent – both had been silent. Their eyes were betraying them both, as each became further lost in their soundless converse. Her cool exterior was a lie, his frenetic state equally so. They looked across the divide and saw only a pale reflection of their companion. Their silent words had carried them too far away from one another.
He held out his hand.
“I’ve missed you,” sang the outstretched palm.
The hand propping up the chin had not heard him over the muted sound of fingers drumming her lower lip. The rhythmic pattern was enough to convince her she was doing enough to bridge the gap , but not enough for the weight of words to get across. Her second hand partnered her first and her elbows met the table as she did so, bringing her nearer and yet no closer.
“I’ve missed you too,” her hands had become too tired and her eyes took up the slack. They answered the call of his palm, but spoke to his eyes instead as her gaze shifted from the table. Her eyes could talk freely, unfettered by the fear held in her hands.
“What shall we do now?”, as his hands moved to mirror hers, his fingers held like a prayer, pressed firmly upon his closed lips. They were inches apart, eyes locked. They had become each other’s whole world.
She had no answer and remained unmoved. As far as she could tell, they had both found solace in the silence, but both had been very different. Hers was close and packed so tightly it was impossible to see out clearly – his was a vacuum where everything within was pulled out of reach. This single difference was what was creating a divide between them and would be the cause of the still moment reaching its close. Their mutual veneer of comfort started to chip away the moment she parted her lips:
“I’ll get you a coffee,” it was he who spoke first as he rose from the table and made his way to the counter, not awaiting a reply. She looked to him but he had already gone. She turned her head and re-acquainted herself with the surroundings; the coffee house was in full vibrance and in full voice – as she looked at all the faces around her she realised how alone she was.
Within a few minutes he was, again, across the table with a coffee for her and a smile for himself. The silence had been an unbearable torment and he was not displeased that it had been him who had put it to its death. It had cost him a few moments delay – two and half minutes away from her – and three-pounds ninety-nine, but if that was the price of a ticket from limbo then he considered it more than fair.
“Thank you,” she spoke. Her accent fondled the syllables with a delicate touch, eliciting from him an imperceptible shudder and an even wider smile. For the moment, their move to spoken theatre was not the resounding failure he had initially considered; although cliché, coffee was an ideal icebreaker, but would not be a recurring topic.
“The coffee here was always good,” she continued, “I’ve missed it more than I thought I would”. He had been mistaken, perhaps – he was willing to talk with her about anything; even the coffee (which he never had developed a taste for) would sustain him for the short while before what was to come next.
“You are so, so right,” he turned his head away and studied nothing in particular on the far ceiling; “Maybe,” he paused for a moment before, “maybe, it is why we keep finding ourselves here.”As he finished he turned to her again, but now his eyes had become inflamed as they frantically scanned her face for any indication, a definite indication, of her emotion. He had always thought, up to this point, that he was skilled in the art of reading faces; the lines which tracked her journey through life. She had been untouched by time Herself and remained as youthful as she had been when his eyes first fell upon her; his beautiful enigma.
“Perhaps.” She agreed despite acknowledging the polite lie. They were both playing roles and reciting their well-rehearsed lines as consummate professionals. Somewhere along the way, she couldn’t pinpoint exactly when, the script had changed as their story developed; neither had yet seen the opportunity to reflect this in their dialogue. Without a prompt behind the scenes she knew the next move would need to be improvised. She sought inspiration out the window and to the rain rapping against the panes, until deciding against it.
He saw her hesitation and pounced on it with his own. He was saddened at the thought of their mutual silence, yet he could, neither, think of anything to say. That is, rather, he could think of nothing easy to say – everything had become so difficult in the last few moments, perhaps for them both. He had counted seven different paths of conversation he could take – none of them led to safety, warmth or comfort. The gentle and beautiful creature in front of him was as much the danger as the damsel.
She still hadn’t returned her eyes to his face and she, briefly, caught a glimpse of the world beyond. Context was a strange beast – the fear she had seen in him (and within herself) was nothing to compare with that from afar. He had always kept her from the terror, but now it seemed to seep from him. In fear she stepped forth as she looked at him with renewed resolve; he was not someone to be feared – they would always keep each other safe from the pains life brings, one way or another.
She was ready, and she spoke having placed her hands in his:
“He’s asked me to marry him.”