He had meant to go to the concert, truly he had. Only he had been mid-chapter at a particularly enthralling moment, and one did prefer to finish those moments, to experience the full effect of them before moving on. There was not, in other words, room for both a chapter of idylls and an evening of Beethoven all at once.
"Weren't you going out?" Jacky asked him. The evening had grown dark, and it was far, far too late for him to do anything about the concert now.
Leonard did feel a momentary reluctance for the waste of the money the concert ticket had been, but shrugged it off in the next moment. "I can go to the next one."
Jacky sat on his lap. "I could go with you."
Jacky did not often do anything that surprised Leonard, but this did surprise him, and he looked at her carefully. "Do you like music?"
"I dunno," Jacky said with the candour that had drawn Leonard to her initially. "But I like you. And you like music." She toyed with his collar. "You could tell me what you like about it."
Leonard felt a customary pang of despair. He felt sometimes that he came very close to touching the truth of great beauty, whether it was in art, writing, music, or nature, but unlike the works he loved to read, he couldn't enumerate the magic, couldn't phrase it in such a way that he could share it with anyone else.
"I don't know that I could," he said reluctantly.
Jacky seemed to see this as a rejection. "Oh."
Leonard took her hand. "It isn't you." He struggled to find a way to explain. How cruel it was to wish to say all, and to be unable. "Music is..." An escape? A description of something unseen, unseeable? No, that wasn't right. None of it was quite right. "...not words."
Jacky leaned forward, kissing his neck and whispering, "Lots of things aren't words, Len."
Yes, and there was the difficulty. There was so much in the world that couldn't be words and barely translated, but words were the only way to make someone else truly understand. Sometimes Leonard thought he had never been able to make anyone truly understand anything in his life, and never would do. What good was it, then? What good did it do to be searching for magic and to be unable to explain on the rare occasions when you did find it? Leonard didn't know, but something in him refused to stop trying. He felt that if he only found the right words, even if they were someone else's, that they would unlock something in him one day, and that he should be able then to say all. There must be a way for a man without words to find some that would do.
"Then we'll go," he said. "To the next concert. You and I." Perhaps one day, if he could be sure she wouldn't laugh at him, he would read to her from one of his books. It would be nice to share it with her, if she wouldn't laugh.
Jacky kissed him again. "You do love me, don't you?"
"I do," he said, quietly and with the conviction that he had felt when they had first met. His books and music provided colour in his life; Jacky provided a different kind, but it was no less valuable for that. She gave his life something it had never had on its own. He did not know how to make a home, and she made a place home by being in it. Until today, he hadn't believed she might take part in his interests, although he had always known of her interest in him. Perhaps he need not be alone in all his idylls. Perhaps they could share them. "Perhaps one night you and I could go for a walk."
She frowned at him. "A walk where?"
"Just a walk," he said weakly, his small flight of fancy already prepared to sicken and die at the least sign of scorn. "Just to--to see things. Life. Perhaps to see the dawn."
She considered this. "Can you see the dawn in London?"
Leonard hadn't thought of that. "I don't know." Seeing no scorn yet, he added, "But we could find out."
Jacky nodded. "All right then. On a night you're not too tired, we'll go for a walk."
Leonard could not have described what this meant to him, for her to agree, but perhaps that underscored the importance of her act. She had agreed. Whatever rambles he would take, she was willing to be there, even if she didn't see them the same way he did. He couldn't have told her why it was important that she had said so, but it was. Her interest mattered. The possibility of a new and changing understanding between them mattered.
Perhaps Jacky was right after all. Lots of things weren't words.