It takes two
“I don't know what to do about it, Layla,” Julian says to me. We are alone, something that we have been avoiding like the plague for a while, but it is almost as if everybody else wants us to be together, all the time. “I have never been so much in love in my life, and I don't know what do to about it. Well, if I weren't married, or you, or... well, if at least we didn't have kids.”
I don't know either.
“Leave them, leave everything... I'd do it, Layla. For you, I'd do. It would be for me, really, because if I had you I'd need nothing more.”
I'm not looking at him. It would be too hard.
“I would get away, move to another city, or stay here. You could take your kids with us, if you want. I would treat them as my own, you know that. If only I could be with you.”
If only I could be with him.
“With you, I feel different. I feel good, I feel I'm not alone. You and I are somehow the same kind of people. You know what I want to say, don't you? You feel it too.”
I did. I know what he was talking about, but I don't want to say so. I don't want to hear from him either. I'm afraid of words.
“I think of you all day long. I look around, in the street, wondering if perhaps that woman with blonde hair isn't you. They never are. Do you know how hard it is to sleep and wake up with someone while wishing she were somebody else? Oh. You do.”
I do. But I said “I do” to him.
“And I know you love me back.” I close my eyes, the shiver that those words produce in my body is too strong. “Please, Layla. Come with me. Let's go, away, now. We'll hit the road. We can pick your children on the way, if you want. I can't take mine. I love them, God knows how much I do, but I can't do it to Betty. It'll be hard enough this way.”
My eyes are wet.
“We'll go away. To my cottage. We'll call them from there. Explain everything. Say that there's no other way around. Maybe it's better not to take the children, it will be something against you in the divorce. You'll get their custody easier this way. They will see it. They know we get along too well, they keep saying that all the time. They just don't know how much yet. That it's stronger than either of us, that it's the only thing we can do. That it's impossible to deny it for a moment more; that we snapped, and finally gave up.”
Yes. I want him tonight.
“Come. Let's go.” He takes my arm, and we walk back inside, crossing the house straight to the front door, I avoiding the eyes of other people.
“Layla!” I hear, behind me, too close. Julian doesn't stop, he's still walking. “Honey,” I hear, feeling the hand behind me. “You have to hear this story.” No, Tom, I don't. I'm running away from you.
But I stop.
Julian only pauses for a fraction of a second. I feel he walking straight away, to the front door, knowing, as well as I know him, that he will enter his car, start it, wait a few seconds, knowing that I will not follow him. Then he'll go away, leave everybody else in this party, never to see them again. He'll take the road, going to his cottage, I think, and torture himself for a day or two, with the vain hope that I'll follow him. That I, for once, would follow my desires.
“It's so hilarious,” Tom says, laughing the laugh of the innocent.