She seemed like a chaperone. Present, but discrete and quiet. Her movements were seen from the corners of one's eye. Not sure what she was doing, though. She was old, that much was clear. She was one of three people in that room. A room without a door, without windows. But there was light, and there was a sense of shadow. For it lurked and hovered, as if wanting to keep safe.
Her presence made him feel at ease, less intimidated by the company he was keeping and hadn't seen in years. The old woman shuffled behind them, as the both of them sat at the table, searching feverishly for those sacred first words. There was sand on the wooden floor. The sound of the old woman's shoes crunching the sand made him feel like smiling. But he didn't.
He looked at the woman sitting right next to him at the table. Not opposite, but real close, in the next chair. Why did she do that? Was it a conscious move, a calculated decision? He took a moment to feel the mood, the situation. The silence between them was just a way of buying time to find the right words. Would either of them say out loud? What nobody knows, because nobody sees, because nobody cares. A hint of the past vanished as quickly as it surfaced, when he realized it was the here and now that mattered. To him, it did. What about her?
It was hard, but she learned she could trust her feeling. It will never cease to amaze her how each encounter, each rendez-vous, gains in confidence and warmth. The kind of warmth that says it's okay, don't worry, we got your back. Even if nobody's there, but him. Nobody to have her back, but herself. I can do this, she said. But not out loud.
I remember. There. She said it first. He looked up, but not straight at her. He nodded, and let his hands rest on the table. The old woman gestured if he wanted more coffee. She stood on the other side across the table, but seemed to be in his corner, he could tell. He moved his right hand and held it over the mug. The old woman paused for a moment and then shuffled aside again, leaving the sand to be the loudest in the room.
Yes. I remember as well. You know I do. He wished he could take back those words. He saw her cringe. Sorry, he said. She looked up, albeit hesitantly. It was all so very fragile, still.