A love story in prose.

They walked hand in hand under the stars. They barely knew each other, but it mattered little. After a lifetime of love and loss, marriages and failed marriages, children, multiple career paths, family and friends, living in multiple cities, states, houses, apartments, and all the rest that makes a life – they’d never experienced anything like this. Why was this so different? 

They’d been in love before. Maybe their respective memories were fading. Maybe there were too many expectations when they were younger. Promises to keep, futures to plan, external pressures, caring what anybody else thought. But this was pure; this was bliss. Perhaps even with this,  there would be expectations down the road – and promises, and real life that got in the way, friends and family with judgments, finances and communication faux pas, and all the other things that smeared pure love. But really, who cared to think about all that now. Everything was perfect now. Children were raised, all the accouterments of the material world were in place, life was in order, so there was space for love to enter.

They skipped under the stars, walking hand-in-hand in the city of stars that sparkled like diamond dust above them. He hadn’t skipped since he was … well, maybe never, but she made him giggle and behave like a child. Her lips curled up at the sides and she couldn’t stop grinning, her laugh was infectious and tinkled like piano keys. Reason was not in this equation, only love, the purest expression of 2 hearts vibrating together in a pattern of nested wave forms. There was no universe that existed outside of them, for they were the universe.

       Sophia dropped her purse on the table as she entered her modest dwelling – a small house she had purchased herself after a divorce 20 years prior. The house served its purpose, providing shelter for her family, safety, and financial security, but mostly, it was home. And now she was thinking of leaving it to go off on adventure with Jackson. Was she delirious? She had a job and friends; this was the place where her children came to visit and stay in their old bedrooms. Someday she hoped they would return with grandchildren. Sophia never really imagined leaving her home.  It wasn’t just a building where she kept her stuff. She knew her way around the neighborhoods; she’d gone to the same supermarket for more than a generation, seen the same doctors, frequented the same farmer’s markets on Saturday mornings. Her town had grown up over the years and it was finally someplace she cared to be. Finally, after so many years, there was public transportation, the politics were bending in her direction, the city was becoming environmentally sustainable. Sophia realized that she actually liked it here.

 At first, she hated the fact that there were no seasons, there was very little rain or snow or any precipitation falling from the sky – so little personality to the weather. Eventually, finally, she discovered that she loved the blue, cloudless skies, that the light kept depression away. Whenever she returned after traveling, she relished the vast sky and endless horizon. So, why was she about to leave?

 Sophia poured herself coffee – nothing fancy. She didn’t care for creamers, flavored coffees, and all the rest, just coffee and milk. Sometimes, the smell of coffee was more satisfying than the taste, which is why Sophia smelled almost everything before imbibing or ingesting it. The sense of smell was the most powerful of the senses for evoking memories, pulling emotions out like drawing cotton out of a bottle – all stretchy and much longer than it seems when it’s all bunched up in a ball.

Music did that for Sophia too. She didn’t listen to music all the time, but when she did, it often brought her to her knees. Something in some song would just touch a chord inside of her and Sophia would break down sobbing – deep, gasping breaths. That happened to her on the dance floor the previous evening with Jackson. The poignancy of the lyrics and the melody, soft and flowing, like a woman’s soft, long hair, drew a string of melancholy from her soul, and tears started to flow.

Recently, Sophia had lost several people who were close to her. It always seemed to happen in clusters – these horrible things.  Perhaps the energy that surrounds a person converges into some kind of mush, and follows her around. Maybe it’s better that everything happens at once, so that you can get it over with and it doesn’t have to keep happening.

That night, on the dance floor, the pain was so complete, and pierced her soul to the very core; it was much worse than physical pain, because it was incomprehensible. 

Not wanting to upset Jackson, or ruin the mood of this magical evening, Sophia turned in the other direction, gasping for breath, her body going into spasms gulping air. This didn’t work at all, since Jackson noticed and shouted into her ear, asking if she was okay. He had the usual reaction that men have when women cry, not knowing what to do and thinking that perhaps he had caused her grief. That’s when she turned to him, gladly falling into his strong shoulder, so grateful that he was there with her to soften the burden. She buried her face deeper into him, blocking out the rest of the world, feeling comforted by his presence, letting reality dissolve. 

When Sophia and Jackson danced, time stood still. Every time they danced, it was as if they were playing a different game, creating new art. Sometimes they danced sensually, moving slowly around each other, Jackson feeling the silkiness of her shirt, as her skin tingled with the touch of his hands being so close, separated only by a thin veil. He moved behind her, and she could feel the entirety of him, warming her as the music moved through her like a stream passes over rocks.

Sometimes, they were playful. They would make faces at each other, not able to speak over the din of the music. They would play mirror, and he would move as she did, and then she would move like him. And they would laugh with abandon.

In the next moment, they would move away from each other, each one falling into the rhythm of the music, letting it move their bodies in whatever direction they needed to move.

The music would surround them in a cocoon, spiraling around them in swirls of golden threads. Music was not a separate thing, just hitting their eardrums, but the music made the couple vibrate with the same frequency as the notes and the rhythm; they became the music, their physical bodies dissolving into energy, and they swayed in tandem like the notes in a chord (accord). The music would move their bodies back together again, and they melded as one being.

Eventually, they would open their eyes; notice that they were not alone, that there were others who moved to the same ribbons of sound. They would wave their arms in the air with the others and become one with the entire crowd. Then, they would sing, to each other, or with the others, feeling their own voices rise up in their throats, bringing the invisible vibrations into the air like thick cream pouring over them.

 Suddenly, the drums would dominate. The rhythm moved in them as a pulse, a pattern of movement that propelled them and took over their bodies as if they were marionettes. Their arms, their legs, torsos, and necks, made shapes in the air; they painted invisible lines with their bodies, coming together, moving apart, gears in a machine, moving in synchrony.

Liked it? Take a second to support Robin Engel on Patreon!

Leave a comment