When she is in the company of that young man, she feels that her body acts as if it has a will of its own. The past suddenly disappears, everything that otherwise makes her life becomes insignificant and at that moment there is but one dimension. She is in his power, exposed to his mercy.
Sometimes, when she returns home from the restaurant, a scary crack opens within her. She keeps on living as always, she goes to work in a publishing house, she stops at the shop on her way back and she cooks dinner. She cleans the apartment, she does the laundry, she throws the garbage and changes the bed sheets. Until she feels such a strong yearning for him in the middle of one of these chores that she immediately has to sit down somewhere or lean against the wall. Scared by the feeling that she does not know herself.
He is the new editors of the magazine that she sometimes translates for. When he appeared, he did not attract her attention. They met at the editorial meetings – he seemed authoritative, but knowledgeable about work. Kind to the colleagues, with a disarming smile and nice voice. Handsome in a messy, careless way. She registered all of this as random facts.
And then something happened, she does not know exactly what. At the conference in the other city. She sat on the empty chair next to him. She sat comfortably in the darkness of the hall preparing to listen to the speaker. All of a sudden she felt his hand on top of hers. It lasted for a moment only, he immediately withdrew it, he leaned towards her ear and whispered: I am sorry! She withdrew her hand as burned: warmth passed through her body as a lightening. She unconsciously touched her upper arm and moved it closer to her face, looking at him completely confused. But the warmth that she felt was still there, as if his skin has remained stuck to hers with that touch. Did he notice this gesture? Did her reaction betray her, did he notice that his quite accidental touch caused some sort of a physical shock with her? She could not stay still next to him. She stood up and barely made it to the last row. She shivered as if she had a fever, as if that touch, while giving her warmth, immediately afterwards splashed her with cold.
After the lecture he approached her with a concerned expression on his face. I am sorry if I have upset you, it was an accident. She just waved her head, not knowing what to say. She accepted his invitation for a drink. When he handed her the glass with vodka, she covered his hand with hers and brought the glass to her lips. She thought that in this way she would show him that she was not insulted and that she had to leave for a different reason. He allowed her to have her little performance. His hand did not withdraw, did not oppose. Then he drank from her hand, which he took firmly, and then he suddenly twisted it — that’s how they drink vodka around here, he said, they do not sip it. That evening she drank a lot and she laughed very loudly. And she saw that the young man, except for his dangerous touch, also had irresistible eyes and smile. If he had said a word or had taken her by the hand and went to his room, she knew that she would have followed.
That night she could not sleep. She got up, she switched on the light and she stood in front of the mirror. She looked at her body with his eyes. She saw the body of a woman who had given birth to two children, two sons almost his age. Well preserved, still with soft and elastic skin. But she knew that the word “still” has come between them, that it was the obstacle that she could not skip, regardless of the feelings that he had awaken inside her.
The yearning that occurred within her with the first, accidental touch did not disappear the next day, for breakfast. And it reoccurred with every next meeting. It was a relationship of professional respect, mutual cooperation, even delight. Mutual focus, an intense feeling about the presence of the other. As if they were really lovers, for the hour or two that they spent together every couple of weeks the world around them did not exist. Can the yearning itself have such an intense enjoyment? As she looked at him on the other side of the table, she knew that it was possible.
Their approaching was long, full with hesitation, gradual.
She remembers the first time he hugged her. It rained and they had to squeeze under her small umbrella to fit. He hugged her without any hesitation, as if he had done it so many times before. She felt his strong grip under the thin fabric. If she had turned her face to him at that moment, she was certain that his lips would have pressed on hers. If there had been any cheap hotel near by, if he had headed to the entrance, if they had entered and if they had gone up to one of the rooms, she would have thrown herself without hesitation to the not very clean bed sheet that smelled on dampness and the bodies that had lied on it until recently.