We spoke long of intimate things, and though I felt my very soul touched, his hand was never lain upon my skin. I longed for the things he spoke of, craved to be the woman of his desires. I had his confidence, but not his touch.
The way he spoke of other womenâ€“those who had felt the warmth of his kissâ€“left me feeling a melancholy envy for he did not see me as he saw them, did not think of me as he thought of them.
In those conversations when we spoke of passions and shared desires, always, there was a barrier between us. He shared so many of his inner most thoughts. I knew all the secrets of his heart and mind, yet I did not possess the key to unlock the invisible chains that kept us apart.
We were so much alike, so many common experiences to compare, so much wisdom we had learned. In speaking we could agree that we wanted the same or very similar things in a mate. We even spoke of those qualities we wanted and saw in the other. Still he looked beyond me for the object of his affections.
He valued my counsel, and introduced me to every woman that caught his fancy to gauge the degree of my approval for the match. I must have been too objective, suppressing my feelings to give him an honest appraisal. He never once accused me of jealously or envy, though I felt both keenly. Perhaps it was a folly on my part. My devotion to him in the only role he permitted me prevented any malice on my part. I could not betray the loyalty and love I felt for him as his friend.
While he continued to frolic about, falling in and out of love repeatedly, I had slowly lost my desire for others. I knew what I wanted, and unable to have it I could not find the strength to leave. I gave him his freedom to come and go, waiting for his return, always hoping that our conversations would lead him to the conclusion I had reached. With each new break in his heart I would help him heal with my words, filling him with the confidence to face the world again.
I became the untouchable woman in his eyes. He would often say how he wished that he could either be more like me or find a woman like me. It was the last that cut deepest. Why search for what was already before him? And I, the coward, never asked directly.
He had a better friend in me than I had in him, though it was many years before I realized this, and was finally able to let him go. A woman can only be untouched for so long before her heart loses its tenderness. He had stopped asking about my dreams and desires, and would speak leaving no room for listening. Once we had been perfectly compatible, but having failed to make that final connection we had slowly spun out of sync. He had locked himself within a predictable pattern, while I had vowed to change my course.
On our last parting he had introduced me to the woman of his dreams. She was no different from any other he had ever shown me, but for the first time I did not envy her nor did I feel jealous of him. I pitied them both, for the height of the pedestal he had placed her upon made falling inevitable, and I knew that I would not be there for him when she did. I wished them well, hoping time would prove me wrong, and that they would be happy with one another.
I disappeared from his life after that.
*Photo: flower in the snow by Ben L Francis, obtained through Flickr.