I walk on my way to assume my position among the foray of voracious eaters in the food court.
It is strange how your mind shifts from the usual family unit mentality into the solitary omega member that avoids contact with his surroundings. As if I close upon myself and block the world for the next few hours.
I reach my seat, with a shameless overstuffed platter of edible goods. I take another wary scan around me. I sniff the agitation and the quickening in every parent’s heart around me; the bustling column of hungry people pulling out their heads for that imaginary cozy bubble of existence in the mall; that coveted chance of peaceful consumption.
I turn to my teriyaki rice plate, and recite its last rites. But a distant figure catches me from a corner of my eye.
A man facing his other half, a young woman, not too young to be happy about it. Not too old to be complaining about it either.
From my position I couldn’t catch a single word they said. But deep inside, the exchange appeared familiar enough.
Her eyes were dull, glassy and mournful. From my view, I recognized a twitch in his shoulders, exhaustion. What was he pulling from her. A word, a smile…any hollow form of affection. Like an overflowing jug of water, about to burst from its bottle-necked top.
As I said, it was familiar for me too. That lack of reciprocity could make a mountain shudder in fury. When every word or action a man takes dissipates against a blanket of frigid platitude. Her eyes betrayed no thoughts. She could’ve been an inanimate object. Nothing but the soft roll of her lips. I could read it clearly. That blaring statement carving a chunk out of the man’s heart with a frosty knife.
I will not a move muscle for you.
The man hesitantly takes off from his seat. His shoulders now curled up in defeat. She follows his ascent with two porcelain orbs. Then I see how her mind sank to a forlorn island of space and time. How her heart once belonged to him, now cold and broken under a ragged shredded banner. Forever lamenting the loss of her years, wasted on one husk of a life. Now halting back to a old familiar place. Where only flat, boundless surfaces awaited, no building or towers erected. Just old monuments, cracked and slanted from an arcane era. The time when she could happily belong. And others belonged to her.
It is strange how life could show such delectable cloying bites of human theater. I felt her remorse, and his tragedy. I was the solitary moved spectator of this unwelcomed end.
Minutes flow by, and I am joined by my other. It took her a while to catch up with me. And again, I am pulled back to a warm and congenial place. I am complete with her. Yet, the bitterness still lingers from the silent decay I had just witnessed.
Perhaps, in another corner of this mall, there could be other two souls brave enough to claim their share of happiness.
I hope and wonder.