The barricades pierce her heart in a blind spot of hope undone. Like a dead bird in the air falling to the battlefield, between distorted faces and arms entangled in blood, forever fooled by a grand promise. Her voice breaks against children's laughter, ambient music in her studio and the stillness I am trying to hold, over the phone.
'He called the whole thing off. The photo shoot. The banquet,' she sobs.
My friend is a sturdy woman with wide shoulders, wavy brown hair and a jolly gait. I imagine her falling flat on the floor, a crucified victim surrounded by curious children. The paint on their hands would dry in an instant when they saw the light had gone out of their teacher's eyes.
'Did he say why?' I ask.
'He loves someone else. A young man he met at work.'
The man who left purple roses scattered over my friend's drawing table, to go home and sit between his mother and sister in front of the TV screen? Now he must find his private sphere so he can lock lips with another man who ignites the fire in him, tearing apart the composure he has feigned for years. He will emerge a glistening man, fresh-faced with joy and sanity.
'I don't understand why it took so long for him to come out,' she says.
'I'm sure things happened at the right time,' I say.
published 18 May 2011