The Story of Two Dancing Masks

The enormous wooden stage in the main square appeared overnight. It appeared as if out of nowhere and nobody had the slightest idea what for. People passed by and wondered. There was a lot to wonder about. They wondered who. They wondered what. They wondered how. They wondered why. They wondered when.

It was so nice to stop and wonder in the crazy rush of life. Before speeding up into the greyness of routine, a gush of fresh wonder wouldn’t harm anybody. Just wondering about this and that, without wanting to find any answers. And then again resume one’s path into the abyss of forgetfulness.

Some would even stop in front of the stage and examine its exquisitely carved shapes of cupids blindly pointing their arrows in all the directions. And they would smile. Some would smile bitterly. Some would smile happily. Some would smile ironically. Some would smile genuinely. Some would smile wearily. Some would smile sarcastically.  And others would not even notice. Lost for good on the island of solitude.

She did notice it and she smiled expectantly. What was she expecting? She didn’t know. She thought she had everything she had dreamed of. She could definitely say that she was perfectly happy. Though happiness was a notion difficult to define, and perfection was something she had never looked for, she knew she was perfectly happy. There were no storms in her life. There were no fires. There were no calamities. Her life had turned into a safe haven. She had stopped worrying long ago. She was just enjoying the serenity of sunshine and the gentleness of the caressing breeze. That was her life: eternal sunshine and timeless tenderness. She had him and she was perfectly happy! They should definitely come and see the show tonight, she thought and hurried away.

He did notice it and he smiled unexpectedly. What made him smile? He didn’t know. He thought he had everything he had planned to.  He was absolutely sure he was perfectly happy. Though he avoided using such words in his daily life, he couldn’t help feeling pleased with what he had achieved so far. And there were many things he was proud of. He was proud of his willpower. He was proud of his brilliant career. He was proud of his family. He was proud of being in control of everything. And yet, he smiled and that smile was out of control. But as there was no time just to stand and stare he rushed away into the alluring brilliancy of his career. Time to take control. Yet, he knew that in the evening she would drag him here to see why they had built up the stage.

At nine o’clock in the evening they were there.

Dusk was creeping in like a sly cat following its prey, taking great pleasure in the game. It did not hurry. No rush, no speed, just the watchfulness of the wait in silence. It was expecting. It was anticipating. It was thrilling. Cramped in the crowd, they could feel the uncontrollable thrill going down their spines. They had never felt this way before. A mixture of awe and yearning mingled with fear and passion. There was definitely something in the air that night. But what was it?

Two silly clowns appeared on the stage out of the blue. They were probably telling jokes as they were laughing in turns. The picture was pathetic. Their laughter was on command like in the army. No wrong movement allowed. Everything was under control. Everything was to be executed and not questioned. So where were they supposed to march?

Those two clowns eventually vanished into the blueness they had come from. And then there was an unpleasant scratching sound coming from the enormous loudspeakers. Nobody could understand anything. And then unexpectedly, a thundering voice announced:

‘Let the tango contest begin!’

He grabbed her hand and dragged her after him without looking back. Making his way through the crowd, he arrowed up onto the stage. No time to speak. No time to wonder. No time to understand.

And here they were facing each other. Here they were drowned in the last lingering remnants of the dying day. Bewildered. Yet, determined. Here they were almost scared in front of the unknown, yet embraced.

She felt his right hand wrapped firmly on her waist. His left hand was raised pointing to the fading ambers on the horizon.  Loose. Yet, sensual. She closed her eyes and let him take total control.

He felt her body tremble softly with emotion. It seemed her body was swaying together with the gentle puffs of wind. Scared. Yet, secure. He liked her readiness to venture into the unknown guided solely by him.

They mirrored each other without even looking at each other. Savage rage mingled with sublime tenderness made them forget everything. Nobody. Nothing. They were lost in the eternal wild call of the primary emotions.

Anger! Disgust! Fear! Happiness! Sadness! Surprise! All this was felt simultaneously and ravenously. The dreamer. The controller. With their eyes closed they both knew what the other was thinking of.

They were listening to the loud whispers of the stars, while the gentle wind was caressing their faces. They could see the stars burn their heart with desire to spread light. So cold. And yet, unbearably hot. They were afraid to open their eyes and lose the flame inside them.

Alas, there are so many strangers in the night with no chance to share love. Alas, the odd odds were not in their favour. So sad. And yet, so ardent. Better to love and lose than never to love!

Their heart was beating the rhythm of tango. They were breathing heavily. Deeply in. Slowly out. Still, they had the feeling that their heart was going to explode.

Nothing could stop the tempestuous wilderness penetrating every atom of their bodies. They were hungrily drinking the elixir of total freedom. Dreamless. Controlless. They were drowned in the rays of sun lying on the spring virgin grass filled with white camomile flowers.

And then the music stopped!

Life stops when music stops. They fully understood this and the awareness of surviving the rest of their lives without hearing music made them shudder. He was still holding her hand. There were people there making a lot of noise. Some were clapping. Some were yawning. Some were dreaming. Some were talking. Some were envying. Some were hating. Some were loving. And some weren’t even looking. Yet, the crowd in front of them opened the doors of loneliness. And soon they would get drowned in the ocean of solitude. Again.

While walking down the stairs, still together, still holding hands, he started humming. The tune was so painfully familiar to her but she couldn’t remember what it was. She only realized with agonising intensity that he let go her hand. And that it was completely dark outside.

‘Hun, next time you want to dance, look whom you are dragging behind you,’ thundered the shrill sound of a woman’s voice. ‘I know you are too passionate about staff like winning and controlling, but, once in a while, look back in love. Oh for god’s sake, our babysitter will drive me nuts. Just calling and calling. I’ve left all the instructions. We should look for another. Excuse me. Hello? Yess…’

And then she didn’t hear anything else. She was aware that he was devouring her with his intense gaze. Even if she tried to say anything she couldn’t. She was speechless. But what was there to say? Nothing.

The gentle loving hands of her husband put his jacket on her shoulder.

‘Darling you must be cold. I had no idea you could dance tango. You know, I have been thinking that we should go to dance once in a while. You were great there on the stage. Thank you, sir. I know it was an accident, but I can’t make her dance. Can you imagine she says she can’t? You’re such a liar, darling.’ And then he kissed her on the cheek. It was such a lonely kiss. Such a cold kiss. Such an extinguished kiss. A haven’s kiss.

‘Anyway, sir, I’m afraid we have to run now. I thought I would be mad at you, but then I realized that you made me see the hidden talents my wife has and I’m grateful for that. I wish I had disclosed them myself. Anyway, goodbye. Oh, darling, you are all trembling. Let’s go home.’

This was the last time she saw him. This was the last time he saw her. This was the only time they met. They resumed their lives. One went on dreaming, the other went on controlling, but deep down they couldn’t get rid of the longing that had penetrated their souls. And here they are two lonely married spouses always surrounded by crowds.

On her way home she remembered the tune he was humming. It was a beggar accordionist who was playing it while they were passing by. She stopped and started singing, ‘Strangers in the night…’

She was awaken by her husband’s gentle voice,

‘Little did we know love was just a glance away.’

‘Uh?!’

‘You were singing ‘love was just a spouse away.’

‘Was I? Silly me. Let’s go home, shall we.’

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