You could call it a connection of minds: two people enjoying a time free of anxieties: that was all it was and everything. 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 as a result of my enduring clumsiness: I spilled my coffee on her dress. Away from this Paradise, we both had busy lives, lived out on different continents, and yet for much of the holiday, this Eden seemed all there was as daily life faded in our exploration 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 infinite blanket of stars visible above us: pristine, clear and deep. Like the sea beneath us, the sky above was limitless and we, like innocents, lay beneath its stillness. News ceased to matter and only the rocking of the boat reminded us of the moving world.
Beyond the reach of drama we lay wrapped in velvet infinity then she moved and touched my hand. She shone for me then and I dared to think she might express her feelings more openly, but she let the moment pass as the warmth coaxed us to sleep: still 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, shielded from our cares by bonds of unspoken intensity. We drank in the silence and then she said, “Do you have a photograph of yourself?” and I said “No” “OK. Let me take one then” she said, lifting up her camera to take 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. It was a romance built on the denial of intimacy, and yet, as my head lay on the pillow, I fell into that special sleep which a sense of home can give you. Even now she remains the spring of peace within my life.
Shortly after breakfast, with the ship now moored in the harbour 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.