By Claudia Spiridon
Stark silence embraces the picture of the two figures, shadows driving along the space between them. A pair of eyes tries to find the other, but the search is fruitless – unbothered gazes pass them over and the balance settling the score of their conversation remains hanging in favour of unspoken truths. The sounds of forks scraping ceramic and water and wine pouring into glasses quell the need for discussion. And yet a deep voice, barely above an unsure whisper, flutters above the lips of one of the silhouettes.
“Work’s been alright?”
A nod is the reply. And then no question follows up – no interest in how the other’s day has been.
The dancing fire sitting atop a cheap candle in the middle of the table throws moving lights across the two somber faces. The air is stiff – hot, unbreathable, suffocating in a sense. Each lost in a labyrinth made of unanswered and unasked questions, they eat in silence.
For a moment, an animated glint trembles upon hidden irises, before it’s engulfed by the darkness and dull of a tired mind. Then the eyes travel, they sling a passing glance in the direction of the silhouette opposite them. The ghost of a smile is set on the face of the silhouette. What once was a morphing tapestry weaved by emotion and tender sentiment is now but a barren, stone carved sculpture – rough and devoid of the gentle touch of affection. A soil so unfertile not even anger can bring it to life.
And anger there is plenty; under the stoic facades, a river of anger courses, melting away in its destructive path the last pylons of stability left; it is magma, eating away at hardened rock, growing impatient as it looks for a place to surface.
“Can you stop playing with the food?”
Surface it does. There is molten rock behind the words that fight against gritted teeth.
Breaths are taken – exhales are yanked out of lungs. For now, the volcano remains undisrupted, however eager and active.
The words that sit on their lips have been clinging to the murky parts of their minds for a while. Yet they don’t escape the quicksand of comfort and fear. It is fear that sends shivers down their backs and makes them look at each other.
What once would have given energy to their hearts now sets them on a taciturn rhythm.
Neither of them breaks it.
Instead, a hand rises in the air. Graceful – although fabricated – smiles are donned on both complexions. They speak almost in unison, voices blending naturally as they do in a vocal exercise – harmonising, yet never quite meeting on the same frequency. They offer a sheepish laugh to the same anecdote the waiter is too busy recounting to notice the food sitting on their plates – cold, forgotten by an appetite repressed by swirling thoughts.
There is scraping of chairs, wood groaning against laminated floorboards as the two figures move away from their corner table. Steps fall into the same cadence, following a natural, innate rhythm developed by desire and enforced by habit.
The cool air pushes against them as they leave behind the sounds of the restaurant. Snowflakes melt into lowered shoulders, they nestle between locks of hair, they die upon silent lips. A foot plunges into the deep mantle of snow, followed by another one. But the echoes of the steps don’t follow. And the silhouette stops.
A moment of tense silence cradles their minds, before the voice erupts into the frigid ether, accompanied by mist cascading off of trembling lips.
“I don’t love you anymore.”