'Tis twenty-two years time

Long has it been since we last met. His fingers tapping the table, then combing his beard, then reaching for my hand to feel the scar in my index finger. He talked of hummingbirds and the fruit of the summer, while he looked into his cup of tea for pieces of undissolved sugar. He grabbed his teaspoon with just two fingers so he stirred the Earl Grey as swiftly as the breeze swings a girl’s hair. I’m immortal, I said throughout the conversation. His face made for mine, his freckled lips almost touching my ear lobe, and he said, You’re right, the low sound of it ricocheting in me. We had strolled in an endless spiral before the smell of cherry and cinnamon bent our will and made us sit in that crowded café. At times he seemed absent, staring at the pattern that decorated the table, speaking abscondedly to everyone and no one, but not to himself. He made a pause in his speech, blinked, laid his eyes on me, and smiled as if I were the only light in a dark night, giving me chills, getting my blood to irrigate every vessel in my face. I could only say, Gotta go to the restroom, before I got up and walked away while feeling myself burst. There can’t have been enough water coming out the faucet to quench my excitement. I splashed myself three, four, five times before I left. When I came out, when I saw him taking small sips as though he could defeat eternity with a cup of tea, when I took my first step towards him, time froze - the air in my lungs, the girl with the balloon, the steam from the coffee machine, the rose on the floor, the old couple arm-in-arm, the fly by the window, everyone, everything, became a pile of salt, still at first, then spilling slowly across the floor, eventually reaching the edges of the other spilling piles, merging, mutating, evolving, melting into a sea. While I turned to salt, while my essence became that of the Lord, I saw him stirring his cup of Earl Grey while adding a couple of sugar cubes. I knew he wouldn’t get off that chair till I came back to grant him my ears and my eyes once more.

Twenty-two years later a quiet sea still surrounds the one being which hasn’t dissolved. He’s sitting, sipping, stirring, adding cubes of sugar, tapping the coffee table. Once in a while he takes a peek around to utter, You’re right, and the sea becomes agitated. He smiles, and goes back to savouring his tea.

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