What if…

What if…

March 27, 2021 0 By Anton

‘Do you love me?’ she asks.

‘I think so’ he says after a brief pause. Too much hesitation can raise suspicion. In a world where certainty is everything, to appear uncertain or irrational is a capital reason.

‘You think so?’ she whispers disappointed.

Realising the danger, he tries to console her: ‘No, no. I know’

A moment of pause. Silence as the air gets colder.

‘How do you know?’ she asks.

He thinks, looking inside his head for an answer. A minute passes. Two minutes. Then another five. Above, two swans are looking for a lake to rest. There is only a fountain nearby. Enough room for only one of the birds. The other one must leave its companion behind in search of safety. The night is approaching.

‘I don’t know how I know. I just…feel like I know’ he stutters.

‘So you don’t really know. You just feel like it’ she confirms.

‘No. It’s not just a feeling’ he rejects her claim, a bit offended. ‘I know. Deep inside myself, through my body, onto this earth beneath me’. He tries to regain some confidence.

‘What do you like about me?’. After the slight slip into the realm of confusion and emotions, she wants some certainty.

He looks at her. Up and down. Her eyes – ice blue. Her hair – white gold. Her skin – ivory stone. A statue smelling like Summer.

‘You, as you are. I like you’ he confesses with the same honesty that a prisoner has in his voice once he realises that his fate is sealed.

She looks at him. Up and down. His eyes – dark chocolate. His hair – misty woods. His skin – ivory stone. A statue smelling like Fall.

‘Try’ she insists.

The two swans approach the fountain. Slowly, they flap their winds. They both get close to the fountain, within a few meters. They float together in the air for a moment, looking at each other, knowing that this is the end. One of them surrenders to danger and leaves the other one behind, to rest on the small circle of water. It flies into the darkness of the night, towards the horizon.

‘Ok. I will try’ he says with the same voice as before. ‘I love your eyes. They are like an ocean on which no matter how far I sail, how deep I swim, I am never in danger, I am never lost. I always feel calm and at home. Your lips. I wish I could touch them, kiss them, feel them on my skin. I feel distant from everything and everyone, except from you. You make me feel right in my own skin’ he explained.

Vague concepts. Uncertainty at every word. Metaphors that either conceal the truth or express too much of it. But how does she know which path to take? The answer is in his eyes. They are the gate to the truth.

The night is velvet, and the stars glitter like white bulbs of neon fire. The taste of cold cherries and smoky whisky in the warm breeze of mid-summer night. A dream forms, collapsing into reality. An old star explodes. A new world is born.

‘You like how I look then’ she says softly. He senses the sadness and mild disappointment behind her words and thinks: it must be more than the looks, surely.

‘Yes, I like the way you look because it fits you’ he replies. She smiles with some difficulty. The stone is rigid, but her heart is not. He returns the gesture. Effort begets effort. ‘The way you look fits you. You…who are you? Will I ever know?’. A warm moonlight touches her right cheek, blushed but pale in the velvet night. ‘Probably not, and I love that mystery. I know I probably shouldn’t, but I do. You still intrigue me, even after all this time. Before you came, I was alone. For fifty years, in this place, surrounded by flowers and trees, with birds singing in the morning and stars lightening the sky at night, with people passing by, smiling and crying next to me, children laughing and elders reminiscing about their youth. Seasons passed, melting in chimerical beasts. Colours and shapes fell apart. Bones turned to dust. But that spectacle of beauty was empty. Solitude was lonely. Then, one day, you came, and everything seemed to have a soul again’.

She looked at him timidly, with a childish glow in her immovable eyes. His answer was good, maybe too good. She was now in a dilemma: Is there more to it? Is that it? And, more important, what is it? Thankfully, the statue was saved from her tumult by a question from the other one.

‘What about you? Do you love me?’

She smiles and nods.

‘And how do you know that?’

The same cognitive process is repeated again: confusion, effort to quantify something which cannot be boxed into words, numbers or dimensions, and then, anxiety at the realisation that whatever it is, it cannot be fully explained.

‘Similar to your answer. It’s you.  Before I came here, in this garden, facing your strong silhouette and the sun rising behind you each morning, I too was alone. I wondered the world, from East to West, through museums and mansions, in gardens full of red flowers and white trees, but everywhere was the same: I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere. I was…homeless, and yet I was surrounded by everything someone like us could ever want. Attention, beauty, comfort. All meant nothing. Now, here I am with you, in this garden, somewhere I don’t know where it is, without anyone to look after us, abandoned, alone but  together. Slowly we decay and crumble, and yet, I am happier than ever. Forever means nothing if we cannot lose it, and I want to lose it with you’.

His eyes are alive. Her eyes too. For a second, a strange energy turns the ivory marble into flesh.

Time is standing still. Whatever the motion of the Earth around the glowing nuclear bomb, the statues are no longer affected by it. The galaxy’s speedy travel through space isn’t affecting them either. Now they understand, but not with their brains made of stone, but with their hearts which were never sculpted: the break of time, the cut off from the past, present and future, the function of existence: Eternity.

‘You still haven’t answered how do you know that you love me’ she says. ‘But neither did I…’. They both smile and a few more cracks surface on their faces. Ivory dust drips in transparent streams as the statues crumble. Above them, the stars are no longer distant.

‘What if we don’t have to explain how do we know. What if we cannot know why we love each other. Maybe love is only meant to be felt, not analysed’ he replies.

She smiles softly: ‘What if…’.

The moon is high up, centred in the sky. The night is darker as they plunge into Eternity. Tomorrow is never coming.