He was unnoticeable.
Too ugly to turn a head. Too attractive to invoke novelty. He wasn’t in shape, but not gangly or obese. His curse was mediocrity.
Waiters never came to his table.
Neighbors never waved in the hall.
Coworkers would pass his desk when looking for him only to leave packets on the wrong desk and walk away gabbing with friends. He was the beige of humanity with no family to fill the loneliness lacking companionship created.
So when she spoke to him, his world erupted.
The light of her sunny personality warmed him.
She smiled at his philosophies, laughed at his jokes, opened up a kaleidoscope of emotions blossoming out of the earth of his loneliness. When they were together he existed in a new world. Love fueled his confidence and brought him out of the ambiance of life.
Waiters came to his table.
Neighbors waved hello.
Coworkers stopped to talk to him and he, to his surprise, was happy to talk back. Invite them out. Attend their parties.
She was beautiful in spirit and she made him beautiful by proxy.
A year passed.
She told him, with tears and sincere touches of his arm, why she had to leave. He didn’t hear her. The heart imploding drowned out the moving lips before him. Then she was gone.
The old life returned to him. He faded into the background of existence. Waiters ignored him again. Cabs wouldn’t stop. Automatic doors wouldn’t open.
He watched the world pass by him. When he reached out to touch it the tangible was always just out of reach. Right beyond his fingertips.
Food lost its flavor. He didn’t feel the need to eat. Nor drink. Nor sleep – for only heart ache met him in the darkness and would cause him hours of ceiling-staring.
Why did she leave?
What could he have done differently?
He began to haunt the same locations.
Walking the same parks.
Visiting the same restaurants.
Hoping to catch a glimpse of her a glimpse of the happiness he held for a moment.
What he finally saw was a mirror.
And nothing looking back at him.
T. Joseph Lawrence is an exhausted thirty-something from Philadelphia who stays sane by writing about insane people and misanthropic cartoons drawn by his girlfriend, and eating a lot of halal.