(The sound of cosmic radiation reverberates for several seconds)
“Tell me in full detail, Milena, how did your planned meeting go?”
“When the day of our meeting was approaching, I suggested to Valentin that we meet in a new, remote place to get a different perspective on us. He agreed but said that it was not necessary to go so far away to reach a new point of view, so he suggested the dunes of Krynica Morska. The place can only be reached by float. We were told that it would be dangerous by boat, for the reason that it could be snagged by the skyscrapers that emerge from under the sunken cities en route to the island. I was about to say hello, as if we had seen each other only a day before and neither of us had changed in the past few months. However, when I saw him land the float and get out of it, I felt a dormant longing awaken and overwhelm me.
“We haven’t seen each other for a long time, Valentin,” I said.
And he: I wish I could say the same, but we have been seeing each other in my nightmares for a long time.
I: It’s a pity that I don’t remember dreams.
He: Well that’s too bad because you have to face the monster to defeat it.
I: So I am an incubus?
He: Perhaps, and you incubate my monster.
I: You know it’s been Halloween and recently Valentine’s Day since we last met?
He: That’s right, wait a minute, I have to go back to the float because I forgot something. When I get back we’ll start from the beginning.
I: We can even start from the middle.
Valentin went to the ship and, when he returned, he held a bouquet of transparent peonies; freshly cut flowers that took on a gray-blue hue in the partially overcast sky. He handed them to me tentatively, perhaps because I once told him what I thought of this relic of pagan sacrifice.
He: Bear with me a moment, Milena. I thought about this speech for a long time, but when I saw your blond hair floating around your eyes the color of these flowers, my fanciful monologue completely evaporated and Tagore’s words came to me:
In my dreamy sky, you are an evening cloud
and full of love, my longing shapes and paints you,
until you become the property of my boundless dreams.
I was so touched that for a moment I couldn’t get a word out. And he, without waiting long for my reaction, went on, as if following a cue from an invisible director :
“You know, pink roses used to be the most popular flowers. They were romantic not only because of their inherent beauty but also because they allowed our minds to fantasize. Since the color pink has no wavelength, what we really see is an illusion created by our brains mixing red and purple light. However, my flower is more real because it reflects the color of the sky and your eyes, which are as real to me as my own existence.”
When I finally recovered, I said, “My eyes also have no color of their own, Valentin, and remain susceptible to the stormy sky.”
“And yet,” he said, “their color is more vivid to me than all the other colors my eyes are stuffed with.”
And I: Your hello would’ve done the trick.
He laughed wholeheartedly, in a way that only he can, and said: “Well then, hello, how are you, Milena?”
I: Much better now that I see that you’re hopeless at romance. This allays one of my fears: that you will make the next girl fall in love just as easily.
He: That’s the point; romance is only real when it’s hopeless. It’s like an out-of-harmony symphony pleasurable for the intended audience, but irritating to everyone else; and it’s the only trap I know, tailored precisely to you.
I: I guess you mean you’re a magician whose tricks only work on me. Around us, people can see how silly I look; how I succumb to illusion.
He: Then they can also see how pathetic I look, revealing to everyone my secrets, just to charm you.
Me: So we are even. We both lose our image in front of the world.
Him: So let’s lose it completely. I don’t like to do things half-heartedly. Start by aligning
your magnet to mine so that there is no more repulsion.
I: You already did that when you disrupted the laws of physics by magnetizing me. I apologize for all the time you wasted waiting for me. Fortunately, you are as persistent as the coronavirus.
He: Well, you know, what doesn’t kill you mutates and tries for another hundred years.
I: Would you wait a hundred years for me?
He: No. I would save you again, this time from you.
I: Then I’m glad I wasn’t inoculated against you ….
We looked at each other in silence for a while. Then I continued: “Something is bothering you, Valentin. It didn’t sound like you when we talked last time.”
He: It’s all right. I have to deal with my own monsters.
I: But, in fact, you don’t have to. I think I know what’s going on. I looked into my future. I read Conrad’s report about us. I wouldn’t have done that in the past, but since I met you, I think differently. It was irresponsible on my part, but I’m not sure about responsibility anymore. True development carries risks, and I took my own. I saw that I would meet someone and go out with him for a while. I also learned that it wouldn’t be anything serious, but it would be something I would regret so much that I would have to hide it from you. I didn’t like this version of me. If it wasn’t for you, I would’ve simply dated a guy I found attractive and then admitted to it to my regular partner. That’s what I would do to anyone but you. In a way, your infantilism in not accepting reality helps me be a better person. The fact that I know you and know that your ego couldn’t stand it if I went out with another man makes me sacrifice my freedom. You made me believe in sacrifice, Valentin. You changed me.
He: Just to be clear. You’re not going to date him?
I: I don’t know him yet, but no, I won’t date him.
He: Oh Milena, Milena, you have reconciled me with myself!
Me: And you reconciled me with nineteenth-century books, as well as twenty-first-century songs and movies.
He: It was the height of romanticism. Before people started becoming cynics, sorry, I mean realists.
Me: In a way, you are ahead of your time, Valentin; only backwards.
He: That’s a cool way to put it. A lot of people just call me regressed.
Me: Let’s regress together, then.
Him: I wouldn’t regress with anyone other than you.”
“Milena, I am happy for your honesty. But I really can’t recommend this kind of behavior. This way you are walking in darkness. Are you sure of your promises to Valentin?”
“Yes. I am sure, just as I was sure the first time I hid something from you. Some things exist only in the dark, and I would like to explore them.”
“Since you’re going down an unknown path, I’ll have to stop our sessions. When you decide to return, please contact me immediately.”
“I will, doctor.”