The first thing he noticed was her eyes; expressive, green, but with a tint of sadness. He knew immediately that he could like her; no, he could more than like her. If he were any other, if the possibility existed, he would not just ask her out, but marry her. The possibility did not exist. With a last glance at her smile, the soft sway of her hair, he moved on.
He met her one sunny morning at a coffee bistro where she worked. He knew that she was only being polite, good salesmanship, in the “good morning” offered with a smile that lit up the world. There was an instant connection. Yet, there was something in her eyes. He chastised himself, for relationships are unquestionably unacceptable. “Under no circumstance will you become involved!” Management, what would we do without management. ‘Always looking at the bottom line.’ Fear of fraternization was the primary reason their territories were periodically rotated; don’t get involved, be impersonal.
She stood behind the counter, it blocked his view. He wondered if she had nice legs. He wanted to lean over the counter to see. Did she have a high arch that begged to be kissed? If he took her to the beach, would the water gladly part as her toes teased making ripples?
He reminded himself that vacations were not an option. Work was demanding overtime. ‘People, they just can not leave well enough alone.’
Almost every week day he would see her; same time, same wonderfulness about her. To the woman, he was, at first, just another man in a suit that stepped up to the counter. He became more; a breath of fresh air in a stale world. Yet she recognized abstractness about him.
She would never know him. He was a complexity, that neither she nor anyone else, for that matter, could hope to fathom. He fit in; moving anonymously amongst the rush of humanity. In a suit, jeans, or shorts, he fit in. He did have to remember that these days the men wore shorts below their knees; the women had the option.
One day while he was walking, they met by chance. They passed pleasantries and entered into light conversation. Where she was from, why had she moved here – with her husband – her short-term – finish her degree – long-term goals.
Soon he learned her schedule and would ‘just happen’ to be somewhere along her route. He would breathe in her loveliness, feel the warmth and vivaciousness; a few minutes of glorious life swirling around him. They would still pass pleasantries, but eventually they began to engage in less transient conversations. She would ask of him, he would avoid, turning the words back into her. All the while he would feel her sexuality and innocence. Like a spring flower, blameless and beautiful.
Yet, management’s warnings lingered ever-present. He knew that his actions were becoming too dangerous. But he could not forget seeing the softness of her foot dangling her shoe; her bare, crossed legs, skirt rising above her knees; the small breasts. He was reminded of the poem Fragments of the Heart:
you dance among the shadows
of my mind
bathing yourself in darkness
but a whisper
of the heart
fragments of the heart
fragments of an endless search
Then, just as the warmth of summer slipped into cooler days, his walk with her took a turn. He realized his craving for her sensuousness had led him to err. It was her eyes, they had always hinted of a secret. Today they bespoke loudly of a deep sadness behind their inherent radiance of love. He looked at her face and saw behind the make-up, the marks that lay hidden.
‘Don’t get involved,’ crossed his mind. He had to get involved; management be damned. He envisioned how the marks had happened. Her husband. He envisioned her past and saw nothing but pain since the day her husband showed his true personality. He envisioned tomorrow, next week, next year and saw more marks, more pain; more disillusionment in the eyes of this beautiful person. She had sought help – family, abuse counseling – to no avail. Nevertheless, she maintained a veneer to the world; a wonderful smile, entrancing eyes, and make-up.
They took different paths at the next intersection. She, going back to work. He, to where her husband worked.
When the receptionist brought her husband into the waiting room, the husband was perplexed. Who was this stranger who said he knew him? The stranger intentionally wore jeans; nice, but most decidedly inappropriate for the setting. The stranger spoke no words to the husband; just standing there as if observing a lump of coal. The husband was at a loss for words; at least none would materialize. So he stood silently as the stranger studied him.
Looking into the husband’s eyes he saw pain, given and absorbed. He envisioned the husband’s present and saw the woman’s plight. The husband’s wound inflicting hands, his cutting words, his narcissistic drive. He envisioned the husband’s past and saw nothing but evil.
The stranger raised his arm without initial hesitation…then, the ever-present warning rose higher than his fingertips…suddenly he stopped. Heeding that inner voice, he envisioned the husband’s future. He envisioned the woman’s tears, the marks, till one day they would be too deep into her soul to cover with make-up. He envisioned. And two years, six months, twenty-one days, nine hours, five minutes, and 31 seconds into the future, he envisioned the husband pulling a small child from the path of a speeding car.
The stranger lowered his arm, turned, and left the room without so much as a glance back at the husband.
As the husband stood there trying to remember why he was in the room, the Angel of Death made a mental note to return in two years, six months, twenty-one days, nine hours, five minutes, and 32 seconds…’change of territory be damned!’
(Her Eyes is a work of fiction, Copyright September 29, 2010, by the author Steven S. Walsky, all rights reserved. Fragments of the Heart, copyright 1999, by the author Steven S. Walsky, all rights reserved.)