You want her to love you. More than anything else in this world.
But she Ė beautiful, funny, intelligent she Ė sees nothing special in you. Sure, she laughs at your jokes, encourages you to talk when youíre down, even shares her problems with you on the odd occasion. But her eyes donít sparkle when you walk into the room.
You resolve to tell her how you feel, even if it means losing her friendship. You tell yourself you have enough friends already; and anyway, seeing her like this every day is killing you. Japanese torture: death by a thousand cuts. Every day that you see her and donít tell her is another razor-sharp slice to your heart.
You are before her and your mouth is open, ready to speak; but you canít quite do it. Your determination leaves you floundering, flapping loose-limbed and gasping for air. She asks you whatís wrong and all you can do is duck your head to hide your blushes.
You decide today that you will tell her tomorrow.
You think of her as you fall asleep, longing for her presence to pepper your dreams. Half-awake, in that lonely space between night and day, you can see her. She is luminescent. You close your eyes and smell her. Bypassing her shampoo, her deodorant, her perfume, you nuzzle into her skin inhaling that secret scent of her without which you will die.
You drift, unable to move but still alert enough to hear. Her voice is audible Ė talking, humming, singing Ė and suddenly the peal of her laughter shocks you, causing your semi-conscious body to jerk awake. You long to touch her, to have her lying here next to you. You want to feel her solidity, know the heat emanating from her body. You wish you could reach out your tentative fingertips to smooth her skin, brush her hair, curl up inside her hand and stay there forever.
Restlessly you turn over. Not having her is driving you crazy. You find yourself unreasonable. You lick your lips and imagine how she tastes. Sweet, fresh, the green dew of a spring morning. Her mouth is before you; it is red and open. You want to kiss her, to feel her soft pure lips against yours. You want to share her breath, taste her tongue. You want to become one with her.
She comes to you in your dreams. At first she seems everything you know her to be; yet when you reach out to her, your fingers go straight through her. She is little more than a ghost, an apparition, a mere imaginary fragment.
You wake drenched in sweat. Dark and alone. You feel trapped, the bedsheets tangled round your legs. Your pillow is hunched on the floor, lost without you.
You lie still and tell yourself that tomorrow will be the day.
Tomorrow comes and you look at her and long for her to read your mind. Why can she not understand the depth of you, recognise your desire, measure your need, see your despair? Why does she not, through some instinct, know who you are and what you should be to her?
You take a deep breath, a gulp of air. You form the words in your head. Your mouth is dry, your tongue sticky. You look at her and she smiles and your heart turns to molten lava. You open your mouth. I love you, I love you, I love you; but your voice is far away and it is saying 'Hi, how are you?' She nods politely but you see the trace of a frown puckering her brow. You want to touch it, to ease out that tiny point of consternation. You try to speak again. Will you marry me? I love you. Will you marry me? but your voice is saying 'I must go; will I see you later?' She smiles again; she says 'Yes, okay then. Iíd like that. See you.'
And your heart, hot and bloody, is in your mouth, choking you, stifling you. You stumble away from her; but at least you know she wants to see you later.
Itíll all be okay. Because you can tell her tomorrow. Tomorrow will be soon enough.
Art of Love [prose]
The love of Julianís life was, and always had been music.
Now Julian could see nothing, smell nothing, hear nothing unless it involved Guy. Without Guy the violins caterwauled, the percussion hammered and the flutes twittered. Discordant notes ran together, rain down a window pane, fingernails down a blackboard.
Julianís sole desire now was to impress upon Guy just how important he had become, how central to the spinning of Julianís own life.
But he felt dry, arid, deserted, lost within himself. No longer could he score the notes in the right order or conduct the orchestra as one body. Everything he had, everything heíd worked for, was tumbling down around him, trumpeted to destruction like the walls of Jericho.
They looked up at him as he took his position on the podium feeling like a preacher who has lost his connection with the Heavenly Father. All eyes upon him. They were poised, ready to play, awaiting his signal. He reached forward into nothing, his baton quivering in his fingertips. Closing his eyes, Julian conjured up a hallucination of Guy before him and his heart trembled.
He smiled. He twitched. And the orchestra began to play.
Guy loved Alice.
It was as simple as that. He had realised heíd never been in love before Ė not if this was what love truly felt like. He had known within the first moment of seeing her and since then, he hadnít been able to remove the image of her from his mind.
Walking home that night through streets that felt deserted, Guy experienced something that heíd thought had left him years before. A rush of creativity. Words tumbled around inside his head fighting for supremacy, demanding his attention, forming effortless verse, joining themselves musically and magically. He tried to calm his thoughts by thinking of her, of Alice; but his mind butterflied.
Guy reached his house, cold and unoccupied. He switched on the overhead light then snapped it off immediately, shying away from its harsh glare. Stumbling across the room, he jarred his leg against the desk and reached down to turn on the lamp. It emanated a greenish glow making him feel as though he had crawled inside a tunnel made from trees.
Sitting down swiftly, afraid that the mood might desert him, Guy collected together fountain pen and parchment and closed his eyes to concentrate on Alice. He drifted, the scent of her perfume, her skin, carrying him higher, ever higher. He recalled with a shiver how she had inadvertently brushed against his arm causing the hairs to stand on end, tingling a secret thrill down his spinal column. He allowed himself to hear her voice, sweet and low as she apologised and let him engage her in conversation.
Guy opened his eyes and the ink ran unbidden from his nib as he wrote the first love poem of his life.
- I have never felt this before. Why, how, where did it come from?
Alice straightened up and glared at herself in the mirror. This was impossible, unprecedented, ridiculous. This simply couldnít be.
- Itís all very well saying that to yourself, but you canít deny your true feelings for ever. Just because you donít want to be in love with her doesnít mean you havenít fallen.
She turned her back on her reflection with an impatient flick of her head. Yet she couldnít deny herself. For she had fallen in love, quite unexpectedly and utterly unwillingly.
Isabel. Blue-grey eyes and alabaster skin, tapered fingers and worried brow, long untamed hair and bow-shaped mouth. Isabel
Alice stood before her easel and stared at the blank whiteness stretching before her into eternity. She centred herself, breathed, swallowed, grounded herself by listening to the blood pumping in her ears. But there were secret whisperings in the corner of the room. Isabel, Isabel, Isabel. Never before had Alice wanted a woman, needed a woman as she felt she needed Isabel. How did this happen?
Allowing her subconscious to take over, Alice watched her brush as it swept across the page. Crimson, indigo, ochre, black, gold. Rich raw emotion poured itself from her and as she watched, tears began to run down her cheeks burning their salty trails hotly into her face.
What was left? What lay before her? Was it merely a canvas bloodied with emotional outpourings?
Or was it the art of love?