She sat across from him before a small, round dinner table that was made for two at a restaurant. Strings of romantic little white lights glittered behind her. The atmosphere loomed with delicate sounds of live piano music. He was mesmerized by her smile, or was it her warm eyes? He couldn’t decide. Nevertheless, she was beautiful and he was happy. She looked at him smilingly and proceeded to talk, “So tell me your story.”
“Well, I’ve been pretty busy with my career and all. I’ve missed out on a lot over the past few years. I definitely think I’m ready to take it a little slow now and start settling down.”
“But I’m not slow,” she said smiling “and I hate the term ‘settling.'”
But she did settle. Albeit, in a way that pleased her. She was able to find a match that she was eighty-nine percent compatible with; according to a dating website. He was similar to her in so many regards, yet she believed that he was somewhat different and enticing too. He sat across from her, and she couldn’t take her eyes off his beautiful, gentle eyes. The lamp light shined on those eyes of his, as it reflected on the glass of wine on their table. He picked up the glass and put his soft lips on them. She took a breath. He put the glass back down and gently smacked his lips.
“And what about your story?” he asked. She focused back to his eyes.
“My story?” she asked laughingly.
“Why?” He tilted his head, “What’s wrong?”
“Ah, well… my story is a bit long and complicated” she looked elsewhere and her hair strands fell on the side of her face. She situated her misplaced hair back behind her ears.
“I don’t mind hearing” he said.
“Okay” she sighed, “It’s gonna come out all jumbled and stuff, but I’ll try to make it short” she agreed.
He sat facing her patiently.
“It was the early nineties, and I was miserable” she said, “I mean, I was just a young woman learning about the world. I had big dreams… but the world kept crushing them with unpleasant reality… day after day. They say people go through crisis in midlife, but for me, it started young. All I ever wanted was my one and only prince charming. All I ever wanted was to be in love… to find a soulmate, to learn about the curiosities of life with someone by my side, forever. I thought the world was a beautiful place, and that I was beautiful. My dreams were beautiful, but they began to shred with brutal reality. I was absolutely distressed.
I fell in love with a much older man. Like a damsel in distress, I leaped into his arms for safety. I felt things I’d never felt before. I never knew I could fall in love so hard… so passionately with someone. He was my guide, my teacher. He was my savior; someone who would teach me life and how to survive it. My world had been hell. And I had been in pain. He and I lived in this hell together. I latched onto him while he guided us through the darkness with a torch in his hand.
I masked all his flaws. I buried all doubts. He was my survival, my need, and my future. To think one could be so in love in times of desperation. Can you imagine? Was it love, or was it desperation? I thought I could make the best out of hell. I thought I could swim in its fiery waters, breathe its torching flame… kiss its broken heart. I didn’t know how deep the fiery waters ran… I didn’t know how hot the flames could burn. Hell was meant to crumble, little by little. No one could survive its treacherous storms, its deepening rifts, its infinite cycles of misery.”
With an erased smile, she sipped from her glass.
“I’m assuming this relationship didn’t last long?” He asked.
“No. It didn’t” she answered. She reclaimed her smile, “You know” she continued, “Life is much less treacherous when one has control and choice. Choice over locations, over activities, careers, over relationships… and that is why I’m ecstatic to be meeting you. Eighty-nine percent compatibility between you and I according to that website; I still can’t believe it. I’ve never met someone that I have so much in common with. I feel so relieved and lucky!” she exclaimed.
He smiled and held her hand gently over the table. A tune from the piano began to ring in her ears, as her heart grew fonder by the second. His welcoming face was right before hers a moment ago, but now it became all blurry until it disappeared completely. Blindly, all she could now hear was the nostalgic tune. She turned around and saw a familiar finger pattern the musician was playing on the piano. She knew these heartfelt patterns all too well. She excused herself from the table and walked over towards the piano. Compulsively, she joined in on playing the lower notes, while the pianist kept his rhythm on the higher ones. The pianist smiled up at her invitingly, then looked back down and closed his eyes. His fingers said some things, while her fingers responded back. They played that tune, back and forth, freely, gently, slowly, and sometimes intensely. It may have been a couple of minutes, maybe fifteen minutes, but it seemed like the world around them was frozen. Together, they were lost in music.
They were strangers playing hauntingly familiar tunes again.
Strangers falling in love again.
Strangers dancing in circles of love and pain,
in a limbo of a never ending game, over and over again.