Like the Wind*
When I slowly turned around, he still stood there, at the other end of the bridge, his hands thrust into his pockets, his face towards me. For the first time since I had known him, I could not read his face. I must have walked too quickly without realising it. My thoughts were too cluttered and clouded for me to notice how far I had come.
I tried to imagine what he must have been thinking: was it disappointment that he had failed again? Was it embarrassment for having spoken too soon, too openly? Was it pain? Was it understanding – did he know I would turn around when the shock passed, when hope dawned? Or was he just standing there, numb to all feelings, overwhelmed by a torrent of emotions? Was he thinking at all, in that moment?
And what about me? I was trying to shove away the choking emotion, by thinking of him. Why was I so concerned? Why was I shocked? Why had I walked away, like the wind? Was it because he had confessed his feelings so soon after my friend rejected him so shamefully? Was it because I hated to hurt my friend, though she no longer wanted him? Was it because I did not imagine him capable of such sudden shift of heart? Was it because he had been so surprised and so candid? Was it because I had known all along that he had been loving me and misunderstanding his own feelings? Was it because somewhere deep within myself, the ray of hope had always lain concealed, and it had darted to the surface at his words? Was it because it was unethical and wrong? Was it because when my friend did wrong, I was quick to admonish her, and now I was trying to pile up my dreams on top of her mistakes? Was it that I was trying to justify myself for feeling this way? Was it that I had been a stranger to happiness for such a long period of time that I did not know how to handle it when it came?
I was numb – with misery, confusion, desire. Everything had been so perfect – their life, as they had dreamed it. And in their perfection, I balanced my own. When they built their world, I found mine in it too. And all of a sudden, the accident and the strange change of mind of my friend. What it shattered was not theirs alone.
She seemed happy. And for a few minutes I had been angry. Her love had turned out to be fickle, and in her failure was my failure too. I had placed my trust on them, and how easily both had destroyed it! But now, as I looked back at him on the other side of the bridge, where I could barely see the wind playing at his hair, I saw my chance of happiness. I had played right into the hands of Love – unknowingly, unwittingly, like a fool. Love, from which I had run away; Love, in which I no longer believed; Love, which knew I would never approach it or allow it to approach; Love, that I thought I had seen in them; Love, that had shattered so many times than it had mended, and that still continued to spark. Love, whose existence I had denied.
In one moment, in a few words, a suggestion, a confession, he had turned my heart around. Where hope did not exist, he had planted it. Where love had wilted, he had blossomed it. Perhaps he was different, I knew he was different. But the fear would never leave. The fear would stop me for years from loving. And the fear of failing in love again would weaken the love. I feared it would all fall apart again, I feared getting hurt again. But I did not fear as much as I hoped.
As I looked at him, waiting, at the other end of the bridge, his pale face with the dark glasses across it unmoving, I knew it was better to hope than be hopeless; it was better to love than be unloving; it was better to desire than be empty of dreams; it was better to exist than lead a meaningless life.
Something must have showed in my movement, for I saw his chin raise slightly, as the evening breeze played harshly at the top of his hair, and he took a gentle, unintentional step forward.
* Inspired by a movie