A bottle of beer smashed on the pavement, while he sat there lighted by a lamp-post, acknowledging no before and after the crash. Maybe, he was secretly wishing for another, regretting the spilt drink when he still needed it. Either way, he did not show much emotion, it was like a frozen image, seated on the ground in a pose of a martyr, frozen like ice that is beginning to crack. His hand fell to his lap like the first drip of warmed water.
There was no warmth about him, though, no sign of warming on his drawn face. A frown, clearly indicating a closed position; whatever he was going to say next, he would say it at himself, or perhaps for the shadows, chasing him still, from that childhood scene he had never told her about, from those broken convictions he had so often professed in their discussions, from a heart broken before she could get to him. She tried to guess, but remained silent, waiting, wondering, not having an answer for what she suspected underneath, feeling distinctly she was just a prop in the scene, not even a decorative one.
Did he create his stage for the night in a way, blame her for an intrusion, forgetting she was invited, forgetting she was the only one listening? Because she would have listened… if he had not forced a response in such a violent manner. Nevertheless, it was not the violence that bothered her, not by itself, because she understood it far better than he imagined, personally even. It was the look he had begun to give her after a certain moment during the evening. Like there was an abyss, too distant to cross, between their souls, between their minds, like she could not see him and above all, like she burdened him with a need to explain, to justify, to be someone else. The assumption, the projection hurt her. She never had. She saw through those screens, yet never said it. Why did she have to?
He could only see indifference in her, a lack of proximity and familiarity with the urges, bursting their way through his veins. He could not imagine it was the opposite that triggered the absence of a response. The need to control a similar eruption. So, she became an iceberg statue, while he tried to stand up, calling a taxi, when she would prefer to walk home. Her preferences were unimportant, now.
In the taxi, he continued the enrolling of the script, half speaking to her, half turning to the driver, who took the right to ignore a mumbling drunkard. Still, there were phrases that hit her, so eloquent and truthful, things he finally said out loud, his own observations he stopped concealing from her and perhaps even himself. The metaphors he created matched the literary quality of the scene she would have preferred to resist in the moment, but would easily use later. The Antarctic-like image of the society in which he was a bear, a predator, not an average man, a fragile penguin who cannot even fly… She laughed, wholeheartedly for once.
”And what am I, then? A penguin, too?!”
”Oh no, you’re a fox, a sleazy little white fox.”
She laughed again, but this time there was a new feeling in that echoing sound of her mouth, bursting out of her throat through the teeth. So, that what it was then…
In the following moments, she changed her tone and became the mother, the lady, the petty girl, conscious of the unbearable situation, clinching to the last remains of the cleanliness, running away with the last drops of a drink. She became what he imagined her to be. ”Don’t spill. – Don’t spill!”, she repeated again, taking his arm to help him out of the car, holding him tightly to take him home, to his bed where she would lie as a stranger tonight.