pages The Price of Longing

by Yedidah Glass

Published in Issue No. 18 ~ November, 1998

I had been seeing Megan for approximately five months, but I had known her my entire life. I never enjoyed our meetings. They certainly could not be categorized as something as romantic as a rendezvous or as mercantile as a transaction. Although, I was attempting to procure from her an intangible, durable good that she had no idea she possessed.

Lifelong summers I spent studying this girl, disturbed by this girl I wanted to be. My waking moments were spent dreaming about her. My slumber was filled with her joy, her smell.

Upon graduation, we parted in a ceremony only I was aware of and took part in. I mourned her absence as a widow. She became a dim delineation of devotion and need in secret meditations and chants designed to make her appear before me in a darkened room or engrave her likeness in my mind. I yearned for her so deeply that I failed to remember her face.

A succession of men entangled me for short periods of time, but I was never present or fully aware of their presence. I saw every encounter as if viewing it on a motion picture screen. Their attempts to move me, to make me feel some sort of joy or pleasure ended in frustration, derision or violence.

I watched movies, saw plays, read books and every utterance, glance or gesture focused upon the woman in an attempt to replace this lost point of reference that was Megan. Perhaps these anonymous women I watched on the screen and on the street possessed the unknown element I sought.

Watching women, any women, began to take up more and more of my time. I went about my day, my job mechanically and maniacally, so that I could get to the thing, the act that I lived for – observation. For hours I would sit on a bench or at a corner cafĂ© and watch them pass. Alone. Tangled with a lover. Looking at their watches. Looking at themselves. Looking at me.

When I heard my named called out in the street that day, the wind carried the voice around me. It was as if the voice came to stand in front of me to block my way. I stood frozen on the sidewalk, tempted to lean against the lamppost beside me. I knew it was her carrying what I had been in search of.

She stood in front of me breathing heavily because she had run across the street to catch up with me. Her breath hung between us like diaphanous cotton candy inviting my tongue to taste. I could only look at her lips move. She was saying something about being so happy she ran into me and she flung her arms around me.

So began the innocent, platonic lunches and dinners. Our conversations became more and more peppered with the language of familiar partners. The night she faced me and wove her fingers into my hair I thought, finally, the secret I had demanded to know would be revealed to me.

I spent night after night in her arms, beneath her, behind her, hoping to finally have this knowledge that would make me complete. She never held herself back from the coarseness of our emotions or the sensations of the closeness that we summoned in the rites of the dark.

In vain I repeatedly attempted to lay myself on the altar of the moment, but I only saw our coiled, moist flesh reflected in the 50-inch television set across from the couch. Here I was with the one woman who held the answer to my riddle, and all I could see was that which I had seen before in my hunt.

That night she had called me with tears tickling her voice. She could no longer see me. She truly loved me, but when we were together she felt more alone. I could only hang up the phone with submission to the truth of her words. I so coveted the discovery to Megan that I had lost the significance of me.

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Yedidah Glass is a short story writer living in the South. To support her book, magazine and movie addictions she has opted to keep her day job - for the time being.