She had the saddest eyes in the universe. Haunted. Defeated. Eyes that feared closing, that dreaded closing.
I sat next to her on a park bench one afternoon. It was a few weeks after Martha had gone, three years ago now. I may still have a fair amount of life ahead of me but were I to pick a saddest moment, a low point, it would be that afternoon sitting on the bench. I was no longer angry that Martha had taken the house. Or our friends, our shared friends really were her friends, and my friends didn't live in London. It didn't help that I had nobly quit my job so we didn't have to work together. I was not yet at the point of making new plans, I was a long way from making new plans. I was numb with loneliness.
Five minutes sitting next to her and the sadness cutting my being had faded, lost in the stillness, the acceptance of her eyes.
"Are you OK?"
I know life does not work like that, I abhor those comments that condemned my childhood sadnesses or frustrations to being lesser than the lot of those children in Africa. Being told I should think of my blessings just made me madder as a kid and still does now. But that is how it worked with her. I was reduced to simply trying to find out if I could help make things better.
She smiled slightly.
I saw her again a week later, sitting in the ground outside Tescos, a Starbucks cup in front of her. The cup was full to overflowing but she did not seem ready to move.
I sat next to her.
I was invisible next to her, I watched people slow in front of her, empty their change into the overflowing cup, breath slowly to themselves as if summoning the strength, then walking on. None of them looked back, I have a feeling that none of them even remember her, the girl with the saddest eyes in the universe. I think they were not able to acknowledge her existence.
"Shall we go get a hot drink?"
She nodded, she stood up and walked away, leaving the money behind.
"Um, your collection..."
She didn't turn, I paused then picked it up and hurried after her. I caught her at Starbucks.
"Would you like a hot chocolate?"
She hadn't said anything, the barista had simply offered her a drink which she took to a table, he hadn't asked her to pay. I paid for my espresso with her money before sitting next to her.
We sat in silence.
I was starting to figure her out, she simply responded to what people said to her, she had immense patience, eventually someone would guess what she needed, and it appeared I was one of those people. She smelled rank.
"Would you like to take a bath, I can offer you my bath."
She stood, I led the way and she followed. I let her into my flat, indicated with an arm the living room and stepped into the bathroom. I turned on the taps adding a generous amount of bubble bath. She simply dropped her clothes, stood naked waiting. Her body was fine, she wasn't emmasciated or covered in sores or bruises. Somehow she got her meat and veg regularly. She certainly didn't sleep rough.. Her body was mighty fine, actually, firm shoulders, high breasts, small dark nipples, puffy and enticing, a smooth stomach dipping into the fluffy dark patch of hair, hips that were delightfully slim yet would be plenty to hold while fucking, and long legs, all the way down to her elegant ankles. Every detail of her body was amazing.
The bath was full, I had turned the taps off but she still stood. I took her hand, guided her into the bath. I guess she would have managed, but I figured I would help out and see how things went. First I soaped up the sponge and lathered her back. Then her arms, her shoulders, her neck and, trying to make it seem like it was simply helpfulness, her breasts. I lingered on her breasts, but started to worry she thought me a pervert. It was immensely important she thought well of me. I lathered her stomach, her legs, then her snatch and bottom. It was nurse like, I didn't linger at all. I guided her to lie down in the bath, lifting each of her feet out one at a time to wash them. I lifted them higher than strictly necessary to get her pussy above the bubbles, to steal a glance. First I looked at her face, expecting her eyes to be closed as she relaxed in the water but she was watching me. It felt like I was a TV game show she was not paying attention to, just something to occupy her eyes. It was a strange feeling, sharing an intensely intimate moment with someone, a stranger really, who would not remember me. I stood to leave and at the same time she did too.
I changed my mind, I took down the shampoo and she sat again. I lathered her hair, I soaped her forehead and cheeks but she still didn't close her eyes, all the time watching me, or watching my reflection in the mirror. I turned on the hand shower, rinsed the shampoo out of her hair as you would a child's. Rinsed her face but let the stream of water stray onto her eyes. I had to, the soap was too close not to. She closed her eyes, and let out a whimper, a quiet wail, the most dreadful sound I have ever heard. I dived for the towel and dabbed her eyes, she opened them. For a while her eyes seemed blind, then slowly they came into focus and she began to breath again.
So did I.
Gently I helped her out of the bath. I wrapped her in a towel, led her to the living room, sat her on the sofa. She looked at me and I sat with her, reaching for the remote I switched on the TV,
We sat n silence.
I flicked over to Netflix, I forget the movie I put on. Something I had wanted to watch for a while, something very important, I am sure.
A few hours later I left her on the sofa to take a quick shower. I came back into the room wearing just a towel and sat back on the sofa. She burrowed up to me until her skin was lying against my skin, like a new born baby laying on the mother's chest, skin to skin. She closed her eyes and slept. I watched another film. My arm had gone numb, I moved and she woke,
"Why don't you like closing your eyes?"
She smiled at me, for a moment she was actually noticing me. It was wonderful.
"What do you see when you close your eyes?"
It was the first and last word she spoke to me. Three years we were together and that was the only word she said. She listened, well, she listened to instructions. I would tell her we needed money and we would go begging in front of Tescos. When the passers-by saw her they were trapped by the saddest eyes in the universe and they gave what they could. We ate out, I always needed to pay, she never did. And we would come home, I would bathe her, then myself and then she would sleep laying against me while I watched a TV series or a film. Then when she woke I put the TV on and went to bed. Sometimes she would come lie in the bed with me, sometimes she would carry on watching TV. Sometimes she would look out the window. In those three years I slept with the light on, for the fear of her not having something to look a when she woke, should she choose to sleep with me.
In those three years I many times thought about seducing her but I never touched her erotically again like I had the first time I washed her breasts. When I was on the toilet I would masturbate thinking about her lying naked in the living room, fantasizing about playing with her nipples, slipping my fingers in her cunt, fucking her from behind. Always behind. In my daydreams she noticed me, like that first moment she woke in my arms, but my sexual fantasies did not imagine her looking at me. After a while my fantasies expanded to include threesomes and orgies. I knew she loved watching things, I knew she was a normal person, with all the normal physical needs. But my fantasies always ended with a tissue and a flush. No matter what I thought about when I was by myself, I simply did not want sex when I was with her.
Then one morning I woke in an empty flat. She was gone and somehow I knew she would not be back. I knew I would never see her again. It took me a while to figure it out but I did in the end. She left because I had worked through my sadness. I was ready to get on with my life. Anyone, the next one, in her life has to be ready to put everything on hold for her for she has such great sadness in her eyes.
Also, I have had much time to think about the one word she said to me. I believe she was telling the literal truth, she could see the entire universe when she closed her eyes.
I miss her.