But there was always a moment, pure and innocent and pathetic; Amber would sometimes arrive a few minutes before him. I never asked why, but having a few minutes alone with her felt as enough. There was a tone of urgency, given the circumstances, to tell her as much as possible. Those few minutes were ours, a pleasant and intimate moment stretching under the faint moan of the city, a moment in which we ordered our drinks and food as quickly as possible, so we would have more time to talk. These brief conversations were mostly stupid; I couldn’t say what I wanted to say, so we talked about everything without actually saying anything.
When Jacques would arrive, I could feel this solicitous solitude well up inside my chest. I felt as if sitting across from me was a different Amber, one I couldn’t touch, as if she were too far away. It was not as if they didn’t involve me in their conversations. On the contrary, they were always telling me about the parts I had missed out on, about their life in Paris, and Jacques told me a great deal about French painters and writers, while Amber listened to him with the acuteness of a judge.
But every once in a while she would rest her head on his shoulder, lock her fingers around his, or kiss him on the lips. And in that moment I felt as if I weren’t part of the story. I was just a minor character in their lives, a simple witness.
I would smile politely at them and tell them how great they look together, how happy they seemed when they stared into each other’s eyes.
Seeing Amber burn with this charming joy would always blur my vision for a minute or two. I could feel anger poisoning my veins and chest. I wanted to fight. But, and I know that every man has felt this one time or the other, I felt as if I were destined for failure no matter how much I’d try. It was all out of my reach, and I thought that Amber was engaged in a sort of strange, superior world, like when you were a child and your parents wanted to have a serious conversation, so they said they were going to talk grownup stuff, implying that it was a topic vastly superior to your understanding of life.
We are the prisoners of our own ideals. We have to follow a strict pattern, a set of rules and laws, and play the role society designed for us. We are taught that our choices don’t matter, that at best we are insignificant, and at worst we are invisible, shadowy figures wandering around a desolate landscape filled with rigid concrete boxes and bleak lights shivering in the night. I guess that what I’m really trying to say is that our freedom is limited only by what we believe to be the perception others have about us.
And so I decided it was best to wait.”
This is an excerpt from my novel, Jazz. If you’d like to read more, you can find this novel and a lot more here.