You could call it a meeting of minds: a moment for two souls who found in each other’s company that,briefly, the world made sense, but that was all it was and everything. It was a holiday romance, a trick of circumstance where a lady taking a solitary vacation , “She needed a break to catch her breath,” and I, a cynical journalist who was trying to regain belief, collided through my enduring clumsiness. I spilled my coffee on her dress. Away from here, we both had busy lives, lived out on different continents, and yet for much of the holiday, this paradise seemed all there was and needed to be, and the noise of daily life was lost in our wonder of the present.
After our last evening meal and a couple of soothing drinks, as had become our habit, we moved to the front of the boat, stretching out beside each other so we could stare up at the sky and the amazing blanket of stars visible above us: everything was pristine, clear and deep. Like the sea beneath us, the sky above seemed infinite, and we, like innocents, lay beneath its stillness. News had ceased to matter and only the rocking of the boat spoke of a moving world. Beyond the reach of gossip we lay wrapped in this velvet and wondrous infinity and she moved and touched my hand. She shone for me then and I dared to think she might love me more openly, but she let the moment pass and soon the warmth coaxed us to sleep awhile on the deck: our fingers played together like children, bonded by unwritten code. It was the nearest I would get to being at peace with myself and the world .
We were two people, free to explore the whimsies of life in a place secret to ourselves and our daily anxieties and shielded from life’s concerns by bonds of unspoken intensity. We talked of nothing and then she said, “Do you have a photograph of yourself?” and I said “No” “OK. Let me take one then” she said and lifted up her phone and took my picture.
Against the rules I asked her “Nothing to worry about is there. Nothing I can help you with and she said “No.” We drank some more in silence, tonic water mainly, she didn’t much like alcohol. and then she said. “Off to bed.”
“Before you go” I said, “May I take your picture. Sometime in the future I might want company” and some light came on within her as she waited for me to capture her image. Then we went our separate ways. It was a romance built on the denial of intimacy, and yet for all that, as my head lay on the pillow, I fell into that special sleep which only happiness bestows. Even now she remains the spring of the simplest and most noble emotion I have ever experienced.
Shortly after breakfast with the ship now moored back in harbour, and as we finished a snack of toast and eggs a waiter arrived to say her taxi was waiting. She rose to leave, I knew she disliked drama and suppressed it as much as possible, and so as she stepped back from the table she smiled and said, “Don’t break anything” which was our secret joke. She walked off then, as if it was an average day. I never saw or heard from her again.