“I love you so.” The wheels of the taxi were the counterpoint to his voice.
“What is the good of my turning away when every bit of him bites into my consciousness?” she thought.
The road stretched ahead of them like cire satin with a piping of lights. She had changed her position a little, restless under the constraint of his eyes. A lamp lit her up for him, her face white and drawn, her eyelids pulled over her eyes like a heavy curtain.
“One feels that one could skate down the street,” she murmured, “it looks like stuff worn thin with time and use—the shabby shiny surface of the night.”
On and on they went.
“We can’t get anywhere,” he said.
A lamp lit up her face.
It looked so weary and impotent as if she had abdicated the uneven struggle with circumstances.
On they raced, down the slippery ribbon of road.
There was a bump and she fell towards him. He stretched out his arm and held her firm and secure. He wanted her to feel that it was a rampart and not an insidious outpost of passion quick to take advantage.
“Let me kiss you once, for God’s sake,” his voice was harsh.
She turned her face towards him. The passing lamp showed her resigned, pitying, tender.
“Don’t look like that,” he said—sharp with the things he had wanted.
“I’m sorry,” her voice was velvety and comforting.
Yet another lamp, there was a faint smile on her lips—breathed as it were from him. He huddled into his corner, hurt by her compassion.
“I hate to see the moon,” she said, “cynical and prying—an eavesdropper of a moon.”
Again a light gave him a fleeting vision of her—photographed on to his soul.
Her deep dark eyes, heavy with distress, the corners of her mouth repudiating the misery of the moment. She put her hand on his arm.
“Don’t,” she said, “there is in life such an incoherent mass of interwoven strands. And perhaps something comes and tears them all to bits.”
Her voice was chanting—as if she were singing him a lullaby—then it became light again.
“Wait till the next lamp,” she said. “And you will see in my eyes the old laughter that you used to love.”
They turned down a side street and there were no more lights.
Abruptly the taxi stopped.
She got out. Her pale gold coat was a continuation of the moon.
She turned her brooding eyes away from him.
“Thank you for taking me home,” she said; her voice had broken. She looked back—a smile turned on to her lips.
He heard her latch key. The door opened and shut.
A TOUCH OF SPRING
[To W.Y. TURNER]
The sun was streaming through the curtains silhouetting a strange bloated pattern on the chintz, breaking through an opening and cutting a deep yellow slit in the carpet. She lay in bed subconsciously awake, subconsciously asleep, her thoughts drifting into dreams, her limbs merging into one another. “This is happiness,” she murmured to herself, and feeling consciousness invade her, she clutched at the perfect moment, and it was gone.