split seconds of intimacypublished: 2014-06-30
We stand in the hallway: neither in nor out. My jacket zipped open: neither on nor off. Let these introductions be entirely irrelevant, please. A neither here nor there.
And so we stand there smiling, the three of us, each of us hoping our smile will tell the other two we’re perfectly fine with this. Because we have to be.
She is the new woman in his life. He is no longer in mine.
And we smile and smile and smile.
There, that wasn’t so bad now was it?
Her eyes hold on to mine and mine on to hers. The intensity of her gaze comes as a surprise, and as a relief. Her hand trembles slightly as she brings it to her lips. I am about to do the same but remember what a psychologist on TV once said about body-language. Something about how the inferior of the two will mimic the other.
The smile is what saves us. We are both doing that, in equal amounts. Then, something happens. Intimacy reveals itself in units of time no larger than a split second. Barely noticeable to the casual observer.
He brushes his fingers against her arm.
It is time for me to leave. To zip up my jacket and go. To delete the image I had when we first saw the house. Back then, I had turned to look inside one last time and the door to the kitchen was open. I gazed past the hallway at a kitchen table, a warm light over it. A man and his teenaged daughter sat at the table, talking. Cups of tea. A soft-edged painting of the future I had in mind for us. He saw what I saw and we decided to buy the house.
I don’t turn back this time. Because I’m not supposed to.