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The World in a Kiss

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"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible, is music." ~ Aldous Huxley

o0o

It is quiet now in the Underground. No more music from the Shadow Gallery. No more breakfasts or movies or Shakespeare. Just a sudden, soft silence as I give her the last of my words, my hopes.

This train.

Evey stands before me, expectant. But I have no more gifts. She has everything she needs to continue on. And she'll do it without me.

For me there is only a dark tunnel and the inevitable conclusion. I touch the knives at my waist to separate myself. This was the plan. I have to tear myself away. Now. Or I never will.

Yet, as I move to go, I allow her voice to stop me. There is pleading there underneath her words. I turn and I see the same wondrous expression that adorned her face an hour ago when she had first returned to the Shadow Gallery:

Conflicted affection.

She's speaking of some far-off fictional place where we can escape together.

Despite the real touch of her hands on my cloak and on my arms, I cannot put faith in these words. Since meeting her, I have spent a year telling myself similar fantasies. But such tales are made for celluloid. Our names will not be found carved together on some long-lost tree.

Then she does something that I've only allow to happen in dreams now and again.

She kisses me.

Suddenly reality isn't a cold, dark stretch of silent tunnel. My world is on fire once again - but this time with music! The kiss is so simple a gesture, it matters not that her lips touch only the mask. She unknowingly gives me a key with which to unlock myself and, for the first time since I've had a memory, an identity.

For that brief moment, I take my freedom where I can get it. In this sanctuary of her making exists possibilities without time and place. A symphony of moments spill together through my mind that could only belong to a simple mortal man. After all, an Idea cannot touch the woman he loves, or cry with her or laugh with her.

But a man can.

The mask continues to crumble at the soft press of her mouth, and this man behind it revels in the humility and the nakedness of it. I know now that there is such a thing as solitude without loneliness. And had there been a future for us, there'd be no need for masks; I would endeavor to pluck it free and hand it to her myself.

You could say that we danced to all eight hundred and seventy two songs in this one kiss.

But it is a happiness that comes too late... 

My hands clutch her to me as her lips slip away, keeping her against me for longer than I deserve. I can only hope she can hear my thoughts in this last embrace. 'Hereafter, in a better world than this, I shall desire more love and knowledge of you.' *

She waits, without agenda, as if she can rewrite history.

But I can only allow myself to look at her briefly, lest the rest of the man crumbles, too.

I'll always remember...

I tear myself away from the sanctuary she offers and move towards the darkness at my back, giving her only two words as my final penance:

"I can't."

o0o

*quote: Shakespeare; "As You Like It" Act I/Sc.2