We Deal in Fragments; It’s Impossible to Get It All

Sunday, December 8, 2013

“Just the way he looks at you,” she told him, practically bounding in her chair. “The feeling of his eyes on you, like he’s staring directly into your soul.”

They were sitting next to each other in the blanch-white classroom, under the incandescent lights that shone starkly against the still dusk just beyond the windows. They were close, close enough even to touch. But their arms remained folded in their laps, abating any attempt at more courageous resolve.

“Sure,” he acquiesced, only halfheartedly, “it must be pretty incredible.”

“You mean you don't feel it?” she asked, as if in disbelief.

"I'm not sure I quite grab his attention," he replied, more dejected than coy. She brushed a radiant blonde curl from her face and it settled in a crescent moon behind her ear.

“Well, haven’t you ever felt that way?” He could almost see her heart, soft and buoyant, fluttering in the air above her chest. Then, she added, with her eyes still fixed on his: “Hasn't anyone ever made you feel like you are the only person in the world?”

Just then, the professor approached the podium and the room began to quiet. She composed herself—readying for his world-narrowing gaze—and turned to the front of the class with an almost possessive focus. The corners of her eyes prickled like soft fern, tiny translucent threads that blow quixotically in the wind.

He straightened up in his chair, himself immune to the professor’s scrutiny. But he knew the feeling well—to be held in someone’s favor—exactly as she described. And the other feeling, too, just after she looks away.

*

The title of this post is borrowed from the eminently quotable Wendell Berry, who gave a talk at Yale on Saturday, December 7th, 2013.

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