A Brief Love Story
January 4th, 1996
A crowded subway, traversing London's perpetually busy underground. Inside, a man and a woman, among dozens of other passengers; both lonesome, both in need of someone else. They don't know this, of course. But he seems to know it. Somehow, he knows that woman will change his life. She's a bit less perceptive compared to him, but she feels attracted to him, to say the least. And then, a miracle: "Victoria Station, train arriving to Victoria Station." The elderly man aside her seems relieved; he finally reached his destination. He'll finally leave that obnoxious transport. He stands - no, he rises from his seat in a dynamic, yet graceful movement and manages to steal the desired throne from a fainting obese. She feels flattered.
"I hope he doesn't pass out," says her.
"I left him my seat exclusively to do that," responds him.
She chuckles. This will become one of his favorite aspects of her.
"I'm Alois." His hand, stretched.
"I have to say, your accent is flawless. If it weren't from your obviously inherited name -which probably goes back to your grandfather -, I would've assumed you were a local."
"I really enjoy listening to your observations, but my arm is getting tired."
Again, that discreet laugh.
"Of course, sorry. I'm Isabelle. Pleasure to meet you." She shakes his hand politely.
A brief silence engulfs a conversation between two strangers, but Alois quickly dissolves the quietness.
"Um, I know this is a bit rushed, but--"
"I thought you'd never ask." They share a smile.
June 28th, 1998
"Are you sure you want to stop by?"
"Well, they are expecting us... I hope they are," answers her.
"All right. But let's not waste the whole day there, deal?"
"You look stunning in that dress, by the way."
"Do you really want to aggravate our luck even more? You weren't supposed to see me in this dress, and now you're complimenting me? You are so inconsiderate."
"I know, I have problems."
"We have arrived," says the chauffeur.
"Let us go, darling."
"Of course, my love."
As they enter the church, a clamor floods the sacred building. The Father is a tad disturbed by this. Alois whispers something in her ear and practically jogs to the aisle. Isabelle's father joins her and grabs her by the arm in a gentle way. They start walking through the immensely extensive, brown-tainted rug, which seemed to have been red in the beginning of its life.Calmness gradually overcomes the clamor until the only sound is the cry of a baby.
"Dearly beloved. We're gathered here..."
The two feel in another place. They feel like they're the only people in a crowded room, but not that room.
"Do you take this woman as your wife, in sickness and in health...?"
After the Father finishes his interrogation, Alois takes a while to answer. He is deep in thought.
"I do. I do."
She can't help but smile, even though she knew that was bound to happen.
"I do, too."
He smiles as well.
"And now, by the power invested in me by the Anglican Church, I pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride."
"I don't think there's time for that," he answers jokingly.
"There's always time for a kiss," she responds in the same way.
"Okay, if you insist. But we really have to get going. Now that I think about it, it wasn't such a great idea to purchase the plane tickets for our honeymoon for two hours after the wedding."
"Maybe not, but we better get going. See you, everyone!"
November 13th, 2004
Their second house feels more like home than the previous one. It's missing some kind of warmness still, though. Lying on their Queen-size bed, husband and wife look at each other, motionless, without blinking, but more alive than ever. He decides to caress her hair, breaking the lack of motion. She loves this, always has, always will. Almost simultaneously, the couple changes position to lie on their backs. He continues to gently stroke the brown, yet golden hair.
"I... I had a dream last night..."
"It is kind of depressing."
"You know I don't mind that sort of thing."
"I was dead."
"Yeah. And... I've never been that much of a religious person, but I was halfway; not in heaven, not in hell, and not quite in purgatory. I was a wandering soul in a mortal world. I was desperate. I felt this... hole, something missing, inside me. And I didn't figure out what it was, it was going to drag me down into a harrowing world of desperation. Then, I saw you. You were grief-stricken. I expected to see you like this, because I would be the same, but you were... While I was trying to avoid descending into desperation, you already were in it. Lifeless, without a purpose. I actually though that, if I followed you, I'd see you joining me sooner rather than later.
"I'm getting somewhere, I swear. This relationship we have is the most important aspect of my life, psychologically, emotionally, and even physically. But, despite all this, I can't let what happened to you in my dream happen to either one of us in real life. We love each other so damn much, but if anything, God forbid, were to happen to us, we can't let our whole life go to waste because of this. Into desperation. Into madness. Into solitude."
She grabs his hand.
"I promise not to let this happen. I need you to promise, too. I know it is a lot too ask, but it will probably be the most demanding thing I will ever ask you. Please."
As when the Father asked him, he takes his time to answer.
"I can't promise that."
Her face remains the same, unaffected.
"I do not know what will happen later. You want me to promise something that I can't promise because I don't know if I will be able to keep that promise. I do not know if I will somehow manage to love you more, or even less, in the years to come. If something were to happen right now, I promise. But you can't ask me to do something like that. Please."
After meditating his response, she leaves the room.
April 28th, 2013
A video-rental store, one of the few remaining. He looks so pleased with himself, holding the movie as his own last breath, holding it so it does not somehow leave. After he pays, he gets in his car and drives.
The street is soaked, exerting that particular smell. No soul walks, and only a few brave men drive. Driving slowly, he arrives and leaves the car with the valet. Elevator, third floor, knock on the door, comes in, sits aside her.
"You won't believe it."
"You found it!" She hasn't been that excited in ages. She loves that movie madly.
"A miraculous copy in VHS, nothing less."
"I wouldn't watch it any other way. Well, what are you waiting for? Put it on, already!
"But isn't it about time for--?"
"Dude, seriously, you are totally ruining my euphoria."
"Alright, alright. But if someone does come in, we have to stop watching it, okay?"
"Okay," says her, not really too convinced.
Halfway through the movie, a knock on the door. A woman dressed in white clothes enters the room. Alois stops the movie and salutes politely.
"How are you feeling today, Miss Ulridge?"
"How many times have I told you to call me Isabelle, Margaret?"
"Of course, pardon me. Doctor Bonfeen will be seeing you in just a moment. Excuse me."
"Ah, what is it with all these doctors all the time?"
"They kind of work here."
"I know, but... I'm tired."
He begins stroking her hair gently. She closes her eyes and smile.
"I'm tired, too. But it is almost over. And you've got your movie. We can watch it as many times as you want."
"I only want to watch it once. Watching a movie too many times in a row ruins it, at least for me."
"I could have rented it, you know?"
She chuckles, he smiles. Dr. Bonfeen comes into the room. The same everyday questions: "How are you feeling?" "From 1 to 10, how intense is your pain?" "What would you like to eat today?" "Do you need anything?" It had become a routine. They were both exhausted, particularly her. Bonfeen does his usual thing before leaving: he puts his pen inside his coat pocket, leaves a note on the table, excuses himself after a polite 'goodbye' and leaves. Alois stands up again and the movie continues.
Ten minutes remaining. The ending is one of the most glorious things cinema has ever seen. Alois is in awe, but her...
"What is it, darling?"
"I... I don't feel so well."
"I'll go for the nurse."
"No. Stay here, please. Finish the movie with me.
He is crying.
"It's a pretty darn good ending."
He grabs her hand. She uses her last remaining strength to squeeze it tightly.
The credits roll.
"Wow," she exclaims quietly. "Now that... That is a good movie."
"It's great." He sniffs and wipes his tears. "It really is. Isabelle."
"I... I promise. I promise..."