He loved her but it didn’t show. Gave her protection from a distance: understanding without a sense of intimacy. Just some guy in a cubicle crunching numbers through the working day. It wasn’t climbing Everest but it paid the bills.
“Hey Bill” she’d call, asking for advice. Given, always, without a comment. Some years before, and in another place, he had been king of the track and a centre of influence but that was then. Wheel- chair bound after some horrific accident he kept his glories to himself, and ambitions safely packed at home. The evenings were never short. Unfilled hours, stacked upon themselves, bought no relief from his reflective solitude.
Pride is the last refuge of the unfortunate. Spectators of the happy story. A background presence on the road to glory. Inhabitants of your peripheral vision. He loved her but it wouldn’t show.
Now the day had come. Her smiling lit-up face telling all the news. The diamond on her finger. The crowds of workers circling her desk . Asking for the details behind the grin. Without access, his chair was poor in crowds, he worked as if no news could touch him. The numbers queued up on the page, commanding attention. Patient, ordered, logical.
Desire was the door to pain. Wanting left you in a desert. Silence was his dearest friend. Why should he embarrass what he most respected. Some awkward guy, buckled in his chariot, quick of mind but lacking feet. Young but long without his youth.
“Hey Bill” she said. Moving over and standing by his chair, fingers extended in that glowing way. Sadness surfaced briefly in his eyes, saying what she never knew. His heart was like an orphanage for dreams. “I’m very pleased for you Sarah”. He spoke in monotone. Caught off-guard she stared into his depths, but now restored to ordered symmetry. “I wish you joy.”
Not all we feel is for consumption. Not all mountains can be climbed. For some, he thought, love must always be impersonal.