Since being alone, she has been extremely busy.
She knew a woman, friends of hers, who were the same. Extremely busy. They sat down after work and read historical romances or went to movies by themselves. They lived in the city, in small apartments that didn’t cost a fortune and rode the bus to the L and the L into the city proper and didn’t complain about the early rise because they didn’t have to drive in “all that traffic.”
She was like them, just like them an introvert with a busy schedule. She joined a knit club with other introverts, men and women alike who told her where the best coffee shops were and the best nookish bookstores. They would go out together and drink sherry once in a while just to compare notes.
After a long while of learning how to be alone; she liked it. She liked her satellite friends who would be coming running if there was some sort of catastrophe, like a lost cat, or a pregnant sister. They came because the catastrophes were few and far between and usually always brief.
Like all contentment however it slips past without any sounding alarm. One evening rather than a predictable romance, she read “Jane Eyre.” Harmless enough and her friends encouraged her in the classics. But the classic are dangerous books. Why? Because of the questions they pose. The questions weren’t harmful by themselves:
“Who was president when Jane Eyre loved Edward Fairfax Rochester?”
“How old was the United States when Mr. Darcy proposed to Elizabeth?”
“What did Freud have to say about Wuthering Heights?”
Well okay, the last one wasn’t so much a question that has much bearing on her journey but if one has some time on their hands it could make quite a dissertation.
Maybe some see already that her calm life was sailing blissfully into an evil maelstrom. Could she have made an effort to stop? Sure, and she did but questions beget questions. If it was the best of times how could it be the worst? That made no sense, on the quiet bus ride into work. Besides if any sort of enlightenment ushers in the guillotine then perhaps we should take a closer look at the crusades.
If that makes no sense just know, the more she dug into her questions the deeper into history she sank.
Until she found him blinking up at her from the dark tunnel of conflicting sources and original sources. The wind was howling a city of Chicago winter storm when their eyes met over thick tombs that the librarians twittered and fussed about whenever they were requested.
Her heart sank. She had been trapped, for there he was running his fingers through his hair and with a perplexed look on his face. She understood, the Enlightenment was sinking into anything but and that was a hard lesson.
She imagined him several times during her work day. What if he appreciated German opera more than Italian? What if he liked to travel to see the very place where Antoinette died and she simply wanted to take a visual tour. What if he preferred French to Portuguese? What happens to a man who thinks that Dickens actually wrote anything worth reading besides the “Pickwick Papers”? What if he preferred Adams over Jefferson, what then?
Her heart pound in her ears, when she realized that he would speak to her, talk to her and the quiet smiles and bumping into each other in the history sections, were done.
What happened to those nice quiet nights knitting and reading alone in snow driven Chicago?
Before he opened his mouth or give her the warm smile she had shared with him for many weeks her heart felt suddenly leaden. She couldn’t do it again. She couldn’t. It wasn’t the quiet, it was the burden. Life was too good to complicate it with true love.
She ducked quickly into the medieval histories of the Spanish. She heard his footsteps slow and imagined his surprised face. He walked slowly passed her and into Ancient Greece.