On observing the brutality of time

A non-descript morning. Solo coffee, people watching. No hint of rupture. And then it happens. Two strangers. Him old, her young, side by side at the counter. I see him look at her. She does not flinch. Does not notice. He bows his head. I sense what he senses. The ocean.

He scuffs along, elderly, slightly bent, fumbling with change. She moves with geometric grace, youthful and linear. Little black dress. Flowing gauze of a long white shawl. The ebony cascade of her mane across her shoulders. The silver filaments on his skull.

She taps the card and departs, and his eyes follow. For a minute or more she has suffused his world, yet he did not exist. Beauty is blind. It is only beheld. He draws a deep breath and hobbles to a table nearby. Our eyes meet. I smile, and we both understand.

There is a savage engine, purring at a low volume, driving the crisp logic of sex, stirring up the tantalising miasma of love. It happens in spite of us. It pays no heed to merit. It is as blunt and cold as the mathematics of mortality.

You could walk right by. I might see straight through you. We would never know. Only the years would be apparent. Only the distance.

As I leave, the old man looks up. I very nearly say something; but silence seems best. She is gone now. Eventually, even we will forget her.





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