He stood there, hiding his face against the door frame. He couldn't go. He didn't feel as if he were strong enough to stay, nor weak enough to leave.
As if he wasn't strong enough to leave, nor weak enough to stay.
He turned around to look at her once more. And as he felt his head spinning, he picked up the bouquet he'd dropped on the floor. Slowly, he walked up to her, watching while she kneeled and punched the floor with all her might, as if it had wronged her terribly. She stood up suddenly, and he took the last steps really carefully, lest he should scare her away. He touched her lightly on the shoulder, and she turned around, slowly, puzzled to be tenderly touched. Their eyes met.
She did not show any emotion, and he tried to do the same, not to betray any signs of desperation. He offered her the flowers, in silence.
"C'mon Jean... Take the flowers. Just... take them. Please..." The words echoed within, without ever finding their way out. She looked at him, big eyed - and started backing away from him, shaking her head in an insanely slow, persistent manner, her eyes insistently glued to his. She knew him; and yet, she knew him not. As she withdrew, he shook his head as well, in complete synchrony with her, in complete denial. Suddenly, he threw the flowers on the floor, while he pulled her close to him with the other hand. And with both of them, he wrapped her in his arms.
She grasped at his back, as if trying to return the embrace, but having only a vague idea of how to do it.
He buried his face in her hair, miserable. And the smell of it... He'd never forgotten it - now he knew he never would.
So that, right there, that was despair.
She moved in his arms, trying to break free from the embrace he'd longed for. He didn't want to let go - and suddenly, she seemed to have lost all her strength, she felt like a rag doll in his arms. But she fought so clumsily he had no option but to let her go. She buried her face in her hands, hiding behind her hair; always without a sound.
He looked at her, then looked away, utterly lost. But when he looked back at her, it was just in time to catch her fall: the minute she took her face out of her hands, she had such lack of will of her own that she'd let gravity pull her down. He tried to drag her back to her bed, but instead, she threw herself on the floor, reaching for the flowers; she grabbed them, thrashing them against the floor so desperately they crumbled.
And the look, the pain on her face... it was just too much for him to bear.
He strode across the room, and in a moment he was looking out the only window there was. He leaned on the window sill, feeling weak, his breathing heavy and his eyes burning. He...
She was... running? Before he'd fully understood what she was doing, she threw herself on him, holding him from behind with all the pathetic strength in her weakened arms. He startled, and tried to loosen himself from her hold, taking large desperate steps, dragging her along - but she wouldn't let go. As he moved, her grip slid from his waist to his left foot. And the more he moved around, roughly, but never hurting her, the more she'd hold on to him, crying, silently.
He fell. She finally released him, and he stayed right there on the floor. He wouldn't...
She ran towards him once again, and he got up on one knee to catch her, but instead, she climbed his right shoulder. With the greatest of ease, he stood up with her on his shoulder, he'd carry her to her bed - but immediately she was somewhat slowly diving towards the ground once again. He slowed her fall even more, and she landed softly on the cold tiles. She lay there motionless for a split second, wrapped around her wrinkled gown, before she started pulling him, trying to get him on the floor by her side. He resisted as delicately as he could, trying instead to pull her back up - she let go of his hand, got up, and made a dash to the window.
She was going to jump.
He caught her midair, she didn't fight. He brought her back to the ground, and safe to his arms again. She seemed to feel that embrace more than she'd done before, she seemed to enjoy it.
Nurse. Visiting time was over.
She freed herself from his arms, and fought the Nothing again, frantically. He couldn't look at it anymore, but could do nothing else but look. He wouldn't cry...
He stole away.
...Unless he had his eyes open.
He's an adorable old man now, with a sweet smile and melancholy eyes. He came back home 40 years ago from the war. His parents have been dead for 10 years, and he misses them. He's got no wife nor children, no one to leave behind.
Except the quiet old woman at the institution, with no smile, big eyes and aquiline nose. The quiet old woman he visits every Sunday between 3 and 4pm.