By an anonymous contributor
I remember when we first met. I was 17, you were 23, I think. Even then there was a physical attraction we couldn’t quite explain. I saw something – a kindness, depth – in your eyes. You liked that I saw that part of you, it made you feel like the man you wanted to be. I believed that man was who you were. High on naivety.
Time passed, as it does, and we went our separate ways. I didn’t know you’d met your wife when you reached out to me again – a message out of the blue. Pink roses and poetry scented my days. I met a man who I later chose to be my husband, and once again, you and I drifted apart.
When my marriage began to crumble after my husband’s affair, it was almost serendipitous when I ran into you again. More than 15 years had passed, and yet there you were. ‘A sign,’ I thought. Maybe I had chosen wrongly, all those years ago?
By then, you had also married. You opened up too much and described your wife as cold and masculine. ‘There’s no love there’, you said. I did not want to hear it, but I believed you. I believed that our love was the real love, yours and hers was the fake.
You took me back to where we said goodbye, under the wisteria. You remembered my favourite coffee, my favourite pink rose. You remembered how many years and months since our last moment and you wanted me to remember it, too. I was flattered, ‘smitten’ written all over my face. You grinned and said ‘I knew you still loved me’. A brief flash of arrogance, but I ignored it. I wanted to see you as the same young man I knew, all those years ago.
I was building our story and you were helping me, page by page.
Still a handsome man, you’d weathered since we first met. Lines around the eyes, softer skin. But it was never about your looks, anyway. I loved the man I thought you were – an illusion, perhaps. Or maybe a glimmer of something very real you don’t even realise, never will.
Our parallel lives resumed. The intensity of our connection overwhelming and continued in my daily thoughts. Yours too, or so you had me believe. Our letters to each other were insightful, poetic and raw, yet barely a word was ever spoken face-to-face. Our lives just didn’t allow the opportunity.
We relived our youthful moments and spoke of the yearning that followed our goodbye. The inner conflicts began, the longing, the uncertainty, the guilt. And so began the poetry that formed the backdrop to our story.
I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful—a faery’s child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.
I made a garland for her head,
And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She looked at me as she did love,
And made sweet moan
I set her on my pacing steed,
And nothing else saw all day long,
For sidelong would she bend, and sing
A faery’s song.
She found me roots of relish sweet,
And honey wild, and manna-dew
And sure in language strange she said—
‘I love thee true’.
You asked if you could meet me again, this time out of the public eye. Somewhere quiet. You described to me the anticipation of opening that door, and when I stepped forward to greet you I didn’t step back. I vowed I would never step back again. I was not going to risk losing you through fear. I kissed you. I whispered to you the perfection I felt and you hesitated, you thought I was referring to you, and you were troubled by it. You knew your imperfection even then.
I was your long lost, the great love, and you mine. I placed you high on a pedestal, and despite the awfulness of the situation we were in, I saw only a great man.
When I saw your message to her – not your wife, but another woman – I was in disbelief. Was she the faery-like creature with wild eyes? Your messages revealed the past you both shared and the primal basis of it now. Your poetry was pop song lyrics; your romance was masculine and fast. I hesitated for a moment. Why would the great man do this?
‘Forgive, I messed up. I’m sorry x’.
That was enough for me to reconcile your actions and balance them with your fear. My conclusion was your desperate unhappiness drove you to a moment of erotic destruction. How could I be so selfish as to judge a great man in such pain and turmoil?
A new chapter began and so did the letters, the prose. This time I hesitated. You pursued. The pink roses returned. I removed a degree of myself and my soul but I indulged your need for connection, foolishly still believing that I was your true love and you were mine. I stood by you as your world began to collapse – court battles, money, lies – your name was about to be smeared through the dirt. I thought I could save you.
‘Things have gotten bad here. Wait for me?’ You disappeared and all communication abruptly ceased.
It was confirmed to me, through other sources, I was just one of many. Your wife, two others, and me. How foolish I had been, to somehow believe we were different. I guess that’s the way the other woman always sees it.
My old friend, I cannot save you, nor do I want to. Perhaps one day you’ll become the great man you could have been – but even if so, the pink roses will never be wanted here. I have no sympathy for you or the life you’ve created for yourself.