Waiting in Grey
She was beautiful bathed in the florescent light.
“You’re married,” she said. It wasn’t a question, although she had never asked before.
“Yes. I love her very much,” because nothing is ever so simple.
“I could never not love her,” he went on, “She holds my past. She shares my memories.”
“You think I am being dramatic. You’ve never been married. That is what it is to be married. You become interwoven with another in memories.”
No one spoke the way he did. It was why she was in love with him. One of the reasons anyway.
“You read too much Henry James,” she said, in explanation, although she knew that wasn’t the case at all.
They were stalling notably and had been doing so for what seemed an infinite time.
How long can we wait in the grey? How long can we go with no decisions at all? She wanted him to be the adult and take charge. He wanted her to provide seduction, all the while not knowing if seduction was in her character. Did she even know if seduction was in her character? She was beautiful, giving her license for temptation, but she did not know guile and hurt, could not imagine the pain that would be caused if action occurred because in a breath he had said, “I love her very much.”
Still she did not have the naïveté of youth – she was old enough to be past that.
“Walk with me,” he said, needing motion, needing the clarity that might come from the hit of cold air as they exited.
A university if never vacant and dark in entirety, could manage to be vacant and dark enough. Her hat made her hair jut out wildly moving in him a pang of something not quite desire, not quite love. And while it was at this moment moving towards being something like love, something like kindness between them, it would never be lust because neither of them could imagine that far, confining themselves inadvertently to teacher/student roles that ought to have been abandoned. And no matter how many times she said it, his first name would always reverberate with a clang in her ears, filling in professor in her brain.
“You were in my dream last night,” he said, surprising her, sighing. This was, in its way, its own kind of cruelty. “I’m corrupting you,” he went on.
She laughed but gently.
“I’m not your prelapsarian Eve. You should know.”
He had not thought of it before. She had been somewhat of a girl in his mind. That she was not an innocent that he was corrupting gave him a relief, a freedom – he would not be ever taking advantage of her.
“It’s been complicated before,” she continued. “This is not the first thing that I have done that I know is wrong. I had not stopped loving him, you know. And the funny thing, the really funny thing was that I didn’t feel bad the way I thought I would. I thought it would kill me to see my boyfriend after what I had done, after those kisses and, well, it doesn’t matter. But it didn’t. It really didn’t. The guilt I felt was for not feeling guilty.”
Her soliloquy stopped him, greedily grabbed his air from him. The moment had weight. He carefully touch her cheek, watching her eyes briefly close in the creation of memory then focus back on his in uncertain want.
“These things don’t matter,” she said with assertion, “Anything before this – it doesn’t matter.” As if saying that made it true.
She moved with words, waiting for him to move with action.
He was uncertain, after the cold of her cheek under his palm, after her words.
“Come with me,” she said, taking his hand – astonishment in itself – bring him back the way they came, entering the front door of the building as if they had nothing to hide. And what is someone should see them?
The office door had been left unlocked.
“I had always thought that there was a moment when things became inevitable,” she said, “but that’s not it at all. Every kiss is a new and different choice, a different damnation.”
“You’re not who I expected you to be.”
She let him kiss her then, which he did in the softest of touches, watching her eyes again close, thinking, “Now there is memory between us too.”
She was still cold from the outside, and he wrapped her in his coat, watch her hunker down into the fabric which cascaded down her, miniaturizing her, making her a girl again.
Neither one thought, “What have I done.”
“It won’t be enough,” she said.
“And you were never mine to have.”
He laughed warmly and brought her to him.
“It will be a beautiful and an ugly memory,” she said.
“Not ugly, just something sad and often more than memory.”
“Then kiss me again?” she asked.
And, another little sin, he did.