SADLY JANE lay across Empty's lap, her long pink fingers framing his round, boyish face. He was handsome, with high, rosy cheekbones, and a wide, masculine jaw. She traced a fingernail across a scar that crissed and crossed down and above his left eyebrow.
A schoolyard brawl? Or a jealous blow from a scorned ex-girlfriend?
She didn't want an explanation. She was content to wonder about the dark secrets of his past and admire the mystery behind his youthful gaze. She looked into Empty's steel-grey eyes that were now following the dips and curves of her own teary-shaped orbs. Then his gaze seemed to get lost in the oblong shape of her face — his dark and thoughtful eyes rolled over the sharp ridge of her nose and then down to her bare, pink lips, where they lingered for a long while.
How he looked at her admiringly.
Sadly Jane didn't excuse herself to wear makeup this morning, and he didn't seem to notice. His mind absorbed every crease, and every tone in her skin, from the rose-amber of her cheeks, to the mascara stains and crow's feet that began to beset her eyes. He stared longingly at a small, gold fleck in her deep brown iris, that appeared to sparkle like an icicle on a warm, Winter morning.
Empty looked at Sadly Jane as though she were a priceless piece of art — and she was! He drank of her essence like two lovers about to part ways, and he burned her image into his mind to save for a rainy day.
Outside, a sparrow harkened to the first rays of the morning.
Sadly Jane leaned in to Empty's chest and inhaled deeply. The aroma was intoxicating and divine, and as she clung to him, her hands formed a tight knot around his back. He lay his arm across her neck and tousled her hair. She couldn't see his eyes, but could still feel them moving up and down her body.
Then she sighed and touched his face, and her hand slid gently down his cheek and across his lips. She looked at him again, and she saw his loving stare that now had begun to draw inwards. Then, in a heartbeat, his eyes were filled with longing and despair.
She had become familiar with that face. Two, and sometimes three times a week, she would watch his lips tremble, and his eyes become lifeless. Somewhere, deep within him, a light flickered out – a light that wouldn't be rekindled until the next time they would meet.
"A quarter to seven," she said, looking at the clock, and acknowledging what his face had just implied.
How time flies! Only moments before was Sunday night, and Sadly Jane was primping her hair, and painting her eyes. A mist of perfume dissolved in the air as quickly as the night had come and gone. In her mind only seconds passed, but in real-time hours fell and broke like so many shards of glass.
"I know," said Empty, dishearteningly. "Does it have to end?"
Sadly Jane kissed his lips, a sympathy kiss as much as a loving one.
Outside, the city was coming alive. A motorcycle revved its engine and left treadmarks as it faded into the distance. A symphony of doors opened and closed: house doors, car doors – a morning sonata – as the tired and hung-over began Monday by scraping ice off of their cars, and brushing up clouds of snow.
Empty lifted Sadly Jane's face to meet his gaze.
"I want you," he said.
Those words, when spoken, rattled every fiber of Sadly Jane's being – and Empty knew this. But unlike the other men she'd known, Empty had meant it. She wanted to give in to him, and to belong to him until the end of time – but it was nearly seven o'clock, and there wasn't time to think about such impossible things.
"Oh, don't say that you want me right now at a quarter to seven. What are you trying to do, drive me crazy?"
A hurt came over him — a tender moment ruined, a sentiment wasted.
"Oh, like we're not already?" he said. "I don't know about you, but every day we're apart is an eternity to me. I don't sleep. I don't eat. The other day, when you didn't show up.. not a call, not a note..and I couldn't call you – I was helpless. I didn't know what happened to you. What if you were dead? What could I have done? I know it's not cool, but I was so messed up that I thought that I might cry."
He smiled at that. A half-smile gesture, shyly, so that she wouldn't know if he were serious or kidding.
But Sadly Jane didn't see it that way at all. The thought of Empty crying saddened her.
She'd only known him for a short while. All of his life was still a mystery to her, but she'd grown so attached to him. Their life together, though it came in short bursts, was one of tenderness and affection, love and praise lavished generously on each other. There was no room for sadness. Nothing in her wanted to see him cry – for her, or anyone. It might only bore a hole through her thick skin and release her own ebbs of grief and tears – tears she'd spent so much time keeping under control.
But also, wasn't there some responsibility to Empty? Being the older and the more wise, shouldn't she help this young man to grow up?
"Don't ever cry, do you understand me? Don't ever cry about me or anyone, Empty," she burst.
Maybe she at first didn't realize the impact of her words, but something deep and profound changed inside of him. She could see it in his eyes – could feel it in the quickness of his breathing. She was the strong one, and Empty clung to every word as though by doing so, he could win her heart, forever…
She hoped she'd said the right words. Some time in her past, hadn't someone said those exact same words to her?
"Look," said Sadly Jane. "Can't we just enjoy our last few minutes together?"
Empty nodded and smiled at her. It wasn't that often you'd see Empty smile, but you might if you ever walked by Sadly Jane and Empty together.
For the remainder of the hour they held each other. When it was time to go, Sadly Jane silently stood up, adjusted her clothing, and checked herself in the mirror. With a kiss and a parting glance, she disappeared from Empty's life – and left him with nothing else to look forward to for days.
To Useless Shard #5 ⇒
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All poems and stories on this web page are (C)Copyright 1996 - 1999 by Ronald Rand.