A Fool Such As I
I loved her, and told her so. Three months beforehand,
an admission of this kind, of this enormity, would have
been unthinkable. Experience had taught me that the one
in a relationship who first admits to loving the other
is the one most likely to be disappointed.
The minute you say those words, any power that you had,
or thought you had, over your destiny vanishes like
ripples from the surface of a lake. Your soul might as
well be placed in a shop window, like a house-for-sale
notice. What happens next is out of your hands.
The new owner, if so inclined, may demolish it without
once trying a key in the door.
From the look in her eyes, I realised instantly that I had
said the wrong thing. My secret was out, spread-eagled
in front of her like a slave in ancient Rome begging for
his life, and I could neither retract the words, nor undo
the mistake of uttering them.
I was in love with someone who didn't love me, and knowing
this, I felt certain that she would either be reluctant
to see me again, or regard me as a fool for taking too much
for granted. But she did none of these things. She even
tried to ease my embarrassment by saying how young we were,
and how impossible the task ahead would be to earn enough
to keep ourselves. The subject of love was not raised again
between us, and gradually, without passion to fuel the
engine, our relationship spluttered and died.
We met again by accident, about two years later, outside
Sainsburys. On her finger was a shiny, new wedding ring.
I looked into the pram which she was pushing, and saw,
between the small basket of groceries which she had laid
on the top and a multi-coloured string of giant beads
which made a noise when they moved, the most beautiful
and possibly the luckiest baby in the world.
If the look on that young mother's face could have been
captured on canvas, exactly as she looked to me that
morning, it would deserve a place alongside any Rembrandt
or a Hals. There was a light in her eyes which I couldn't
have fuelled in a million years. For the first time in
a long while, the Guinness in my glass that night tasted
exactly the way that Guinness should.
|Posted: February 14, 2005 |