One should not love something that one cannot own. Loving entails dreaming for that which one loves. And what would be the point of expending energy dreaming for that which one will never be a part of?
Alice stares at Jonas while he was sleeping. She cannot help feeling like a voyeur; but since this is the only time she can permit herself to be with him without being defensive or guarded, she relishes such moments.
She stares at his eyelashes — the ones she had, once upon a time, found so entrancing — resting peacefully against his wasted face. She still loves his eyelashes; and as she remembers how he used to get annoyed when she teased him about them, she smiles.
He brought her lunch at 4 pm: siopao, dimsum and chinese noodles. She was grateful, nervous and hungry. And he was looking at her with a mixture of fondness and amusement as she was eating.
He was telling her about Helen. His ex-girlfriend who was a drug addict.
“I haven’t heard from her for years. Then she called the university looking for me.” Jonas was tracing random figures on her palm. It felt ticklish but he was so absorbed in it that she let him go on.
“She was in trouble,” he continued. “She got into a group that was really bad for her. She quit her job and was not living in their house.”
“Where was Helen staying?” Alice asked, not that she was particularly interested.
“A bad place,” Jonas answered simply. “They uhmmm, they were blackmailing her. She had photos with them and they were threatening to release those photos and humiliate her and her family.”
“Why did she go to you for help?”
“I don’t know. She just did.”
“Do you always remain friends with your ex-girlfriends?” she teased him.
He smiled, “I try.”
Years later, after that conversation, when Alice was Jonas’s pseudo-ex-girlfriend, he told her that he really really wanted to kiss her then, in that faculty lounge. But he was afraid that she might bolt or slap his face. Given the person she was, Alice agreed with his conclusion.
How often can a person change in one lifetime? Now Alice wonders.
She so wants to reach out and touch Jonas.
But she is afraid that he might bolt, slap her face. Or worse.
Author’s comments (not that I matter in this story): I have always been more partial to Nat than to Betty. So I choose to believe that Alice will turn into Scarlett Johansson and save Jonas from himself. Or, will it be the other way around?