Candace left me two weeks, three days and seven hours ago. The wound has begun to heal, the void she left behind less fearsome. I don’t know why she left, but my overactive imagination no longer entertains the mystery. I’ve seen her since then. She looks good, she’s doing well. I’d like to share that with her, but it’s okay if I don’t. It’s probably for the best, for both of us.
Candace left me thirty-three years ago. As I look down into her coffin through a haze of tears, the well-earned wrinkles fade and I see my Candace as she was when we loved each other, as she was when she left. I remove the crucifix from around my neck and drape it gingerly across her chest. She used to tease me about my faith, but she found her own faith down the line. She reminded me of something I once said: “Faith is what we do for love.” I give my condolences to her daughter, telling her she looks “so much” like her mother. It’s a lie.
Candace will leave me soon, I can feel it. Our conversations have lost their novelty and the sheer weight of ennui threatens to crush us both. We refuse to discuss it, as though it won’t be true until we address it. I surprise her at work, take her out for dinner, a Broadway show, dancing. It’s a flame that burns very brightly but very quickly. Despite exhaustion, we make love before we go to sleep.
Candace just walked out the restaurant. I will never walk into that restaurant again. I’m ashamed at how I begged and pleaded and made promises I had no idea how to keep. My life suddenly has a hole in it, a huge gaping wound bleeding everything good in my life. I feel physically ill. My legs are trembling too much to stand. The restaurant is full; I notice no one. It is loud, yet I hear nothing. For want of a better thing to do, I sip my coffee. It has no taste.
Candace has just walked into the boardroom. I suddenly forget about the merger, my father’s greedy little hands wringing around her company’s neck, the financial reports I hold in my hands. Time stops. My heart races, pumping this emotion through my veins like a drug. My once-furrowed brow rises instinctively in awe. I follow her as she leaves and I ask her out. She says no.
Candace comes back from a “girl’s night out.” She crawls into bed with me, kisses me, tells me that she loves me, that she will always love me. She leaves me four months later.
Candace left me twenty minutes ago. I crumble into a seated position on a park bench, all of my energy depleted by the entropy of despair. I never saw the stranger approach and sit beside me.
“You live in a miracle,” he said, “and you’re upset because you think it’s over.”
“You seem… familiar. Do I know you?”
“After your fashion, yes. I showed you every moment of your relationship with Candace. You knew this day would come.”
“I don’t – I thought I’d imagined all that.”
“Just because you imagined it doesn’t make it less true. I asked you, now that you know the joy and sorrow of love, do you want to proceed. You said yes.”
“I was wrong.”
“I don’t think so. You experienced Satcitananda, the Bliss That Stops Time. This is how you were able to see what I showed you. Satcitananda doesn’t simply happen, not like some things do simply happen. Satcitananda is no slave to Time. So, knowing what you know now, would you still proceed to love?”
The entire affair returns to me in streams of consciousness and a flood of emotions. The thoughts blur, the emotions blend together. Finally, I’m left with an eternal moment. Satcitananda. Candace never left me.
“Yes,” I reply. The seat next to me is already empty again.
I’m in Satcitananda. Candace is with me. We have always been in love; time is meaningless. We’ve both died by this time, but death is meaningless. I now know why she left: Candace knew that, by leaving, she would never lose me. The stranger had talked to her as well.