A velvety evening sky was settling over us. Angelo and I sat in beach chairs overlooking the water. Miguel was lying at my feet, sand in his hair, his face still, glistening in the dusk. A shy breeze was coming from the south.
Angelo turned his piercing eyes toward me, and broke the silence:
“Here is where you went wrong, Clara.”
Oh no! What sense was there in going again and again over the past? Didn’t the three of us talk ten thousand times about what happened? Didn’t we resurrect ghosts night after night, only to bury them, deep down in our memories, at the first sign of dawn?
Angelo did not stop.
“Clara, you have always mistaken reality for your imagination. Funny, when one thinks that most people mistake their imagination for reality. But not you, Clara, not you!”
I recoiled. It sounded like a judgment, and Angelo was never judgmental to me. My muscles tensed, my sight blurred. I said nothing.
“First, it was that small shop on Rue de Vaugirard: the marionette shop. It was there where Jacques first touched your thigh covered by that black silky skirt of yours, Clara. I know you think that that never happened. Yet, at a certain level, you must have known that Jacques was falling in love with you, but you decided that it was just your imagination. You convinced yourself that you imagined everything.”
In one second I was on my feet trembling. Was I screaming?
“You two, I have no idea what you are talking about! That touch never happened! I said it ten thousand times. Jacques never touched me. Jacques never wrote to me the letter that you got, god knows from where. I have no idea who wrote it! It wasn’t him. Jacques and I were never in that hotel room! I’ve never seen that hotel room! That night Jacques was not coming to see me! I never called him! It’s not me that I am imagining things, it’s you! And you Miguel, if you believed that Jacques….”
I stopped. For a second, all of us remained still. Slowly Miguel rose from the sand. He open his arms to embrace me.
It was too late. I was already thrown into my memories, chained again to my past, tortured by its unbearable painful voices.
I ran toward the ocean. The salty water glued my dress to my body, caressed my burning thighs, wiped my century-old tears. In the dark, I went deeper and deeper looking for the bottom. Few seconds, and I felt Miguel’s body wrapping around mine. His arms were pulling me up.
I started coughing. The night air was penetrating my burning lungs. I was back on the beach: Miguel’s hands caressing my wet hair, Angelo’s distraught face above me.
Miguel whispered: “It never happened Clara, it never happened, my love.”
And yet something terrible must have happened, before Jacques left Paris, something that was deeply buried in my memory, something that I was refusing to acknowledge. Was Jacques coming to see me that ghastly night? Was he?
A horrifying thought came to me. I started shivering. Miguel, Angelo, and I would not be put in different heavens or hells. We were going to the same place, so we can continue to obsess over and over about Jacques’ imagined love for me, and that dreadful fated night that changed our lives forever!
Excerpt from the manuscript “Glass Lovers.”