He handed his invitation over to a somewhat demeaning courtier,
paid probably somewhat less them he was, to stand there and recognise the card, the signature,
and the inherent respect it should have brought.
It was from an old acquaintence, a friend who… Way back when, had shared a real affinity,
respect, sensibility….. And above all, to him, understanding.
They were worlds apart, joined by a mutual intellectual affinity, two people who saw the world
in a way that others never could, or… Through description, could never understand.
Lovers, partners.. For a short while. Their time together, as ‘one’ was fleeting.
But for him, it meant more than it did for her.
So now, somewhat out of nowhere, she extended this invite, to something that mattered to her.
Would it matter to him? Time would tell, the moment would enlighten, retrospect would offer thought.
There was no expense spared, as he expected. She was so much more upper-middle class than he.
For him, it was never about financial considerations, never about what others might think…..
Never about that notion of aspiration. Suggesting a means, which a poor Civil Servant and a classroom assistant,
would ever knowingly portray.
The room was opulent, an array of space. Yet every inch of the floor was covered by pairs of expensive shoes,
something he noted, subconsiously, making his own budget ‘cheap leather upper, and hard plastic’ soled footwear
a little contrived. Casual observers might appreciate their mocking lines, but every footstep offered a resonant clunk
brought about by their cheap, lower level.
He perused the people, the crowd…… Hoping that there might be something recognisable. Perhaps a notion of the
hostess in the decor, or the ambience. But who he knew, was nowhere to be seen.
And he felt alone.
A chair, against the wall, beckoned. A waiter with a tray forced a glass of something alcoholic and sweet into his hand.
He accepted, swallowing one glass in a single swoop, before taking two more, one in each hand, before sitting down.
Observation, not self-referential, not judgemental, nor embittered.
A warm sea of smiling faces, happy background chatter, and an ambience of expectation
No one came over to offer a greeting to him, this invisible non-entity curled up on the fringes.
Then she appeared. Covered in a glowing spotlight. Refulgent, confident, magnificent.
In that moment, as she stood so close, but so distant….. Every memory of her crashed into his consciousness,
A true beauty, the like he felt that in his waning years he might try to put into words…..
But, in truth, a radiance of mind, soul and body that he couldn’t express in a dozen lifetimes…..
As she wandered, under the bright glow, a glow that could never outshine her own, she looked over.
She saw him, and offered a slight.. Almost imperceptible nod.
She was, and always was, of another world.
A world he saw, briefly, in those few moments they spent as equals,
one he wanted to be a part of, even if at the time he simply didn’t see it.
One she wanted to get back to, after lowering herself for that moment of weakness,
a moment she felt unsure of who she was.
As she turned her gaze from him, it was apparent he was there only to experience what could have been,
if he’d been someone else…… Someone like him, but from a different, ‘better’ background.
When the lights faded, he went and collected his coat from the cloakroom, sombred….
Not feeling like less of a man, just feeling like the man he was wasn’t anywhere near good enough.
Steve B 12/13