For most of my life, I’ve been completely devoted to my career. I jumped right out of school and into a job and my time (on the clock or off) was consumed by my work. That work requires a no-nonsense approach and I consider myself to be rational and sane.
But, I will admit that this commitment hasn’t been the best choice for the people around me or for myself. One day, I realized that in building a life for myself that I had neglected to have much of a life at all. I had no one to share this experience with, no one at my side and not even any real friends. I knew this situation would not change on its own, so I took it upon myself to do something about it and joined a local social club.
The club arranged all sorts of activities for its members, we meandered through museums, forayed among the flowers of ungodly gardens, trod the tricky trails of our precious parks, and so on. Over time, some went and others came, but I had no luck in anything other than light and casual connections. Perhaps I was too picky, but I felt no deeper bonds forming, or even having the chance to form.
It was at a large gathering at the McMeadows house, (really a mansion by any standards), that I began to feel a sense of frustrated futility. There were many people around, but I felt alone, absolutely, utterly alone. I was so low that I made a horrible joke to myself, one about my time being better spent picking out a mausoleum. To this, I did not chuckle, and my thoughts, turning darker still, asked why this was so untrue.
I seemed to float, detached from the merry murmur of voices and clinking of glasses. All seemed so very far away, like a farewell made from the carefree days of my youth. I felt myself sinking down as though weighted with the certainty that my life no longer held promise. I would die, unfulfilled and alone, without so much as the chance to pass life on to another generation. The sum of my experience seemed no more than a dusty, worm-eaten journal, tossed without ceremony into a bonfire.
Then I caught sight of her. She stood on a balcony looking down at the crowds laughing, smiling, dancing… I could see her face, her lovely face that made my heart beat for the first time in my life, but I could also see the sadness, the loneliness, the emptiness which my own my racing heart recognized. In her, I knew, was a kindred spirit.
Before, I had always been shy and passive in dealing with the fairer sex, but here I was driven to act. I brushed rudely passed people, ignoring their calls and flew up the grand, sweeping staircase in pursuit of a woman who had said so much to me without saying anything at all. But by the time I reached her loft, she was long gone. I spent the remainder of the evening searching through the maze-like manoir, becoming something of source of gossip for my many companions. At the last, I took up a position by the door after gaining an assurance from the staff that no guests had yet departed.
I must have been a sight, standing like a sentry, scanning this sea of faces for the one who stole my heart. But chiding and chuckles meant nothing to me next to the fear that my lady had vanished. When the last trickled out, she had not been among them. When I described her to the staff, hoping that she was one of them, some laughed while others stared in disbelief.
Finally, one took pity on me and lead me through the palace to a dim corner of its expanse. Gesturing to the wall, she brought my eyes to a painting, one composed some one hundred sixty years back. There she sat, my immortal angel, having died in childbirth a year or so after that.
Where she came from, where she has gone, I cannot say. But with her has gone my heart, my hope, my everything…
story by Joe Stanley
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