The porcelain box

Maybe it was the box.


Maybe it was that lunch, or perhaps both.


Something clicked inside me, and it’s definitely not making me feel better.


A gift and lunch

Arriving at my office after the holidays I saw the colourful Christmas package of my favourite Portuguese porcelain shop and wondered who had left it there. After all, it was Christmas, a time for gifts. I looked for a card but found none. There was only my name written on a small gift tag, and I recognised your handwriting. When I opened it I saw the most beautiful porcelain box decorated with exquisite blue and golden brown flowers set in white. Inside the box, at the bottom, usually without any decoration, I was surprised to see a single flower that seemed to send an unexpected, but strong message, something like “I’m still here”.


I was touched, as I had not expected it. Not after our breakup and all these weeks during which we barely talked or texted each other, basically to wish Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and little else.


And then that lunch. With the best of intentions, but with adverse effects, at least on my side. I was feeling so cool, so detached, so sure about everything; when I suggested it you said yes, without much enthusiasm, true, but I thought it would be good for us both to talk of trivialities, like two old friends. After all, we have been friends too, before and during our relationship.


So we sat down and ordered and talked. About family, work, what we had done during these weeks apart. Avoiding any delicate matter such as our feelings. It would be neither the time nor the place; after all it was a crowded restaurant and we had to go back to work soon.



At first I was quite cool, as I had expected. Then something happened– was it the mood, was it my stupid sentimental heart, I wonder – and I looked at you and felt an overwhelming sadness invade me; I felt like crying my heart out, there and then, in front of you and all those people around us. But I couldn’t, of course – what humiliation it would have been – so I made a huge effort to keep the conversation about trivial things going on and felt enormously relieved as I managed to keep some control of my emotions. Emotions I could not define but for the sadness that seemed infinite. One I had not felt yet, and naively thought would never arrive. But here it was, strong and powerful, gripping my heart.


Back at the office, cloistered in the bathroom, tears ran down my face. I felt like hitting myself. What have you done, you stupid fool? So cool, so detached – “it’s over and done with”, “we can be friends from now on, good friends” – what on Earth happened to that?


The honest answer is – I don’t know. Maybe I’ve been too distracted with Christmas festivities and all the intense happenings of the holidays, and now have landed on the bitter truth that “we” are no more. Maybe it’s hard to accept – as much as I want to – that our once beautiful story, slowly degrading in the last few years, has really ended. Maybe I’m still in love with that person who now only exists in my memories, or at least hasn’t shown himself in the last few years – but sometimes I still wonder if that person is still there, if he may come back; then I think that is a vain hope, a hope that has kept me with you all these years, only to end as we did. Hopeless. Then what do I actually feel? I’m not really sure of anything but the fact that there are moments when I miss you, I miss knowing you are there for me, I miss that flicker of hope that things might one day be back to what they once were. But standing on solid ground I know this is silly of me, there’s no way to recover what we once had. Or is there? Could we start back from zero, and again build a special friendship that may once more turn into love? An impossible dream – you said it yourself, and I agree, that presently our aims in life are too different; we have really grown apart.


At this point I don’t really know much, but for one thing: I feel this sadness inside me because we had something truly special, for a time – but in the end it was not to be.



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