the second hundred years
He had the notion to take her away as he began his second hundred years. At the round table, Tatyana sat north by northwest of him, and the soft white flame in the rose-colored center globe candle reflected in her eyes when she looked at him. And when her eyes met his, and she laughed at every whimsical thing he said, it lit his pilot-light of desire, for she was truly the embodiment of love. She was already his wife, he thought to himself, unconsciously rubbing his white whiskers when others spoke and he sipped water from a wine glass, noticing her small, white, ring-less hands. There would be no need to serenade her with his petrified six-string Martin.
He went too far when he claimed, jokingly, he could yank the luxurious tablecloth and leave the china and fragile glasses standing upright. No one was amused, and he felt the chill on his neck from the party's death-stare, forks pausing at mouths like a Rockwell holiday painting gone terribly wrong. He looked to Tatyana, and she was blushing, eyes downcast. He scooted his chair back before dinner ended, got up, whispered a nineteenth-century apology no one could understand before any cue of an uptight clearing of throats, then went out the door to his car and drove away, home to weep over the photo of his dead wife of his first one hundred years.
Tatyana stood at the door like a lost child, eyes unblinking, red lips parted, looking out for the endearing gentleman. She imagined he must be at least fifty years-old with that brown hair and white unshaven chin. Outside, ten below zero, a fragile bowing tree limb collapsed silently under the weight of blue ice, pierced the snow, then stood bolt upright in the mist like the neck of Buddy Holly’s guitar in a February-scorched barren wintry field of death.
“Gone,” she whispered. “Vanished,” she shuddered, shaking her head slowly.
image by Daniel Murtagh