nobody will ever knowpublished: 2014-06-25
A man: married, two kids. My relationship with him. He is dead now.
They say that on dying, we see our entire lives in a flashback. But when someone dies, it’s not only his own life that flashes by, his shared life with others spreads across the skies. You hear the words “he is dead” and your personal film about him starts.
It’s a film I hadn’t seen in a long while. I was surprised at the clarity of the images the news of his death pulled up out of my subconscious mind. The story of us told itself to me in brightly coloured scenes.
I was his mid-life crisis, he was my rebound. And we were both eachothers’ escapes into a different future. A glamorous one, packed with inspiring people, mind blowing projects and films, made not by brilliant others, but by brilliant us. And the oscar goes to….
He was a director. I was a writer. Except nobody knew this of us. Not yet. In our real jobs he was a consultant and I a lawyer.
There wasn’t anything glamorous about our being together. Apart from it being a secret, perhaps, on his part. If anything, this annoyed me more than it excited me. It made me feel insignificant. While significance is what this affair was all about.
He picked me up once, from work. I left early, faked a headache and ran out of the office with two plastic bags in which I had stuffed some clothes and underwear. I felt ridiculously un-cool running to his car, a family car (two kid’s seats in the back). We drove to… not Paris, but Antwerp. He had managed to create 12 whole hours to be with me and only me.
I remember how quiet we were in the car. Suddenly, we had nothing much to say to eachother. It was raining. I fell asleep to the sound of the windscreen wipers.
The hotel was cheap, and not in the bohemian way. At least there was a bath, which is where I sat for most of the night. Somehow, I could not make love to him. Probably because it was what we were expected to do. This is how affairs go in films, don’t they? Instead, we lay next to each other, listening to the orgastic screams of a couple in the room next to us. Feeling miserable.
After we had broken up, he sent me a letter. It was a short story of a man in his fifties who runs into a past love. She is spirited and full of life. She is reading through a proof of her manuscript and she’s holding a sleeping baby. Latte, sun spilling over half her face and arm. His shadow. That kind of description. The protagonist had done nothing with his dreams. He was a saddened man.
When I learned of his illness, I had wanted to write him a letter saying he had gotten it all wrong: he had in fact fulfilled his dreams. He was directing, writing. And he was still with his family.
Today, I went through some old files and found the story I had written to him as a reaction to his. It was full of hope of me being a part of his life as a friend. On the basis of equality. I was actually having that latte with his wife. I had gotten my version of the story all wrong too.
He is dead now. Nobody will ever know.