Mirror Image

“Hey,” she greeted, a precious smile lighting her face, and it was as if time stood still in the moment of our connection. I had been waiting for this—many versions having presented in fantasies and visions. No two were the same, but they all had something in common: a bond that ran deeper than the apparent, and an understanding that transcended cognition. “Long time.”

I didn’t smile in return—it wasn’t like me to show emotion, no matter how deep the well. Often, the more I felt something, the more I would hold back, for fear of amplifying the sensation, or of seeming maudlin. But I had given much for this moment, in a way few could understand, and still less, see. “I’m here,” I said, happy beyond belief, but stoic for all to see. Sacrifice given quietly in the night, tears shed on rainy days; all the things we cannot keep.

“Will you dance?” she asked, extending a hand. I would have much rather done a mind meld, or a palm joining, but there is a certain release in motion, especially in proximity to one you know. So like particles colliding in random Brownian motion, we twirled, forgetting time and space.

Her clothes were the mirror image of mine, with a twist for individuality that didn’t surprise me—white suit with brown shoes and a deep red shirt. “Is red your color?” I found myself asking.

“Is black yours?” My dark suit came with a neatly pressed white shirt and sharp black shoes. We were each our own, I supposed, my conservative black tie the opposite of her flashy white. And yet we were one in a grander cosmic sense, part of a whole, unknowing of the fact.

“It was unlikely,” I admitted, slightly embarrassed by this, now that things were a little clearer, even if it had been me to take the initiative. There were standards that governed sensibility, you see, and these couldn’t be ignored. Even for that which had the most to offer.

“Was it, really?” Her ever-present smile was mirthful, and knowing. As if it could see to the bottom of my soul, and maybe it could.

I had danced with many here, so in a way it was my arena. Yet it always took a sustained invitation to get me onto the dance floor. “You and I are so different.”

“And yet so similar.”

I took a moment to ponder this, and after sifting through reams of supposed difference—things that by their nature should have made the connection untenable—realized she had a point. “I didn’t see it at first.”

“You don’t have,” she said, twirling me and leaning over, “to see everything.”

I thought about polar opposites and exact copies, and realized this was neither. There was a symmetry balanced by difference that seemed to shine through our every interaction. Words and sentiments we would share, set off against the deep contrast of differing views and upbringing, common points joined by lines with different origins and endpoints; directionality was, in this sense, important.

Words hovered on the tip of my tongue, dancing beyond precision, but not needing to be uttered. “I never imagined this.”

“Isn’t it spectacular,” she said teasingly, “that surprises still await?”

It was, actually. When you understand the fabric of reality in a way that cannot be readily shared, the freedom of surprise becomes a gift, reminding you that you are alive, and your understanding nascent at best.

“Tell me,” she entreated, referring to the things I kept hidden, and of which she seemed aware, “tell me everything.”

I was reminded of a movie in which the life path of two titular characters ran in opposite directions, giving them but one period of shared time in the middle. “Don’t tell…anyone,” one said to the other, as he lay dying, by choice. The irony was only apparent when the situation was reversed, and not by choice. It made me wonder if we really want to meet our end unknown, or if there are things we’d rather share, given the opportunity. Perhaps time is the decider—a quick, dignified descent into oblivion requires little ostentation, while a slow, often laborious journey loosens the tongue.

I knew where I stood.

“I’ll make you work for it.”