The first time they set eyes on each other had been some two months before, during her first days at the company, when she had raised her head from her work only to see a dashing young man come in and suddenly she was bewitched by the warmest golden brown eyes she had ever seen; she, who had always been partial to blue eyes, not brown, simply stared at him for some seconds, and he stared back.
During that second it was as if time had stopped…and then suddenly the magical moment was over and everyone went on with their busy lives.
But now she was distracted and on countless times during the day she looked up hoping to see him only to pretend she did not notice him when he came to her floor. She looked down but still felt his gaze on her.
She asked one of her colleagues about him and was told a romantic story of a fatherless boy whose mother had fought for her son against all odds, and also that they would have the opportunity to meet in the upcoming Company Christmas party.
The Christmas party
When that day came she could hardly wait for the evening, she was in such a state of excitement. She put on a new dress she had had made especially for the occasion, with a black velvet bodice and golden brown taffeta skirt. She did her hair in curls – eighties fashion – and when she saw herself in the mirror she knew she was beautiful, and ready for adventure.
Her lift to the party was late so when she finally arrived, she looked around in trepidation only to find him at the entrance of the restaurant, as if waiting for her. Her friend immediately introduced them and soon it was clear they had both been looking forward to this moment. Deep in conversation they forgot the world around them.
Somehow he managed to grab two glasses of wine for them, and it was a moment the photographer captured for posterity; they look somewhat surprised, as if interrupted while absorbed in each other, as if the flash suddenly reminded them they were not alone as they would have liked to be. She felt she had to move on and mingle, after all it was her first Christmas party at the company and she knew there would be gossip as it was.
What about love?
For the rest of the party their eyes kept straying to each other and when it was over they were both part of a large group of young people who went to a disco. There, they sat in the dark and talked for a long time, and when the slow songs began with the seemingly appropriate “What about love?” by Heart he grabbed her hand and took her to the dance floor. As they slowly moved in circles he was holding her close and it felt so good that she forgot about the world and their colleagues and Monday gossip at the office; most of all she forgot she was dating someone else whom she had loved for the last three years, only to let herself be invaded by this intense feeling about this stranger. She was falling in love but she wasn’t aware of it, didn’t want to be. He was, too, and when he told her he wanted to kiss her she suddenly recovered her wits and told him it could not be, and abruptly put an end to the dance.
But in the end their love was true and stronger than everything. They changed their lives just to be together, letting go of past loves and attachments, finally giving in to their feelings, and they went on to live an intense, passionate love story that lasted for two decades.
A photo and a smile
She looks at the old photo, the colours now somewhat faded on the paper but not in her mind. How long ago it was, how young we were, what surprise in our eyes. How life’s hardships have changed us, how many quarrels maimed our passion, how many happy moments still could not keep us together. How much heartache, tears, hatred, reconciliation, tender moments…and finally the last dragging years together trying to save something we both knew was utterly dead. And then the end, having to face separation for together we knew there would be no possible happiness. And the resolve not to hate each other, after so much love.
She puts down the photo as she hears a young voice calling her. “Mom?” She raises her head from the face on the photo and she is looking at the same familiar face, that of her youngest son. The same high forehead, the same warm golden brown eyes, the same perfect white teeth and above all the same sweet smile…and in her heart she knows that even if their love for each other has ceased to exist, somehow this love will never die, it will live on in their children and the children of their children…these precious children who have brought them – and still do – so much joy, who are his and hers, the living reminders of a great love that once was. And she smiles back at that much loved smile, of the past but especially of the present day, and the future, and whispers a silent thanks for that December night of long ago, for even if theirs was not a story with a happy ending, she would not have missed it for the world.