Unmasked. Sitting across from a man that may be looking deeply at every spot and faded blemish. This purity is a face she so rarely wears, especially when she becomes aware of a wandering eye landing anywhere close to her. She suddenly felt vulnerable and out of control of her own guarded feelings as the thought again entered her mind, that’s if it ever left; this man, her friend, might actually love her.
In an overwhelming flash, she saw the last three nights, which had directly caused the tired eyes she now wore. The talking, the touching, the truth. The night only drawing to some sort of close when the kitchen clock told them it was time to sleep; that a friendly talk should not surpass the late night shows glowing in front of them, yet completely ignored by the pair.
Remembering the third night made her heart jump so much so that she thought she noticed a flutter in her voice as she attempted to keep up with the daily conversation at the table. Hoping it was only her that heard the nervous glitch, she continued, “yeah Mel is great, just chilling and talking about books as we do.”
Here, she bravely took the open opportunity to subtly tell him that she was thinking about him. “The book is so good. Alex and Tatiana are secretly in love but they have to hide their feelings to spare those of her family.” Did you hear that? She wanted to add, this is us.
“They secretly touch each other as they pass.” Just like us.
“They have private chats in the kitchen, only for each other’s ears.” Add some sleepy-time tea, take out communist Russia, and it’s all us.
“They are so in love. It is so beautiful to read their story and the details of their romance ahhh…” She looked left and saw a smiling friend as she carefully concluded her words before getting carried away, which often happens when she is talking about literature, let alone when there is a hidden message entwined within.
She knew the message would be read loud and clear and this confirmation was received when she glanced to her right. There, sat a knowing friend who now held a part of her after the previous three nights, a part of her heart.
The complications of love and death can be so artistically scribed in a best-selling novel, to be openly discussed, critiqued, and analysed by the masses, but when it comes to living it, she thought, it needs to simply be felt between only two. They both knew the analysis, and quite possibly the critique, would arrive at their story soon enough, as it did for Tatiana and Alex, but for now they could just enjoy the heat in the air and the new heat between two old friends while they engaged in daily conversation.
All seemed as it was a few days before. She sat unmasked, he sat unquestioned and they both knew that everything was now forever different.