Sarah could not believe her good fortune. She had experienced such a bad run of relationships and was about to give up on ever finding a genuine soul-mate, when along came Eugene. He was everything that she had been longing for in a man: intelligent, creative, intuitive, witty, honest and considerate; tender attributes, yet honed with a masculine edge.
He turned up at the readers’ circle where Sarah had been a member for a few months. Joining the group had been her attempt to forget all about ever finding the right man to share her life and common interests with. However, on the night Eugene arrived and took his seat opposite her in the circle, their eyes met and they connected instantaneously.
From that moment their relationship blossomed throughout the following days, weeks and months. They were rarely seen apart. They balanced each other perfectly, too perfectly some might say: she was a writer and artist, though struggled for new ideas in the former; he was also a writer and artist though struggled with colour blindness in the latter.
She became his eyes; he became her imagination. They chatted every night online for hours or sometimes just for minutes, not that time mattered to them; the quality, not quantity, of their conversations was what mattered. Whenever they met at their regular spot, the time spent together was never long enough, even when they met earlier and earlier and parted later and later. They had their favourite park bench and wooden bridge: they held hands on the former; draped an arm over each other’s shoulder on the latter. They enjoyed the same food and drink; their reading and music tastes complemented each others. They were definitely made for each other – twin flames they were. The only thing that Sarah did not know about Eugene was his home address; he never told her nor did she feel inclined to ask. She had never been so happy and no more so than when they met at their regular spot by the train station each Saturday.
Her heart, as always, skipped a beat when she saw him coming over the bridge from the platform. He, as always, stood on the bridge for a moment to admire the view before descending the steps towards her. They hugged each other long and tight. ‘I have a surprise for you,’ Eugene finally said as he slowly let go and stepped back. ‘Remember when you suggested that I paint a self – portrait?’ ‘Yes,’ Sarah replied. ‘And I said to you at the time that I had been working on one for a while?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Well, I finished it and brought it with me.’ ‘Where is it?’ ‘Right in front of you,’ Eugene replied with a warm smile. Sarah was puzzled. ‘But you are standing in front of me.’ Eugene simply smiled.
She shook her head in amusement: ‘Hmm, yes, very clever.’ She looked into his eyes. ‘Mmm, I love your eyes; oh, you forgot to wipe away a paint mark just above the right one. Here let me.’ She moistened her handkerchief and proceeded to gently rub the stain away, chatting as she did so. ‘So you are the self – portrait, eh? You are supposed to give me your imagination and I give you the colours.’
Suddenly she let out a shriek and recoiled in horror. Shocked, Sarah looked at her handkerchief then back at Eugene. The part of his face that she had been rubbing had disappeared. ‘Speak to me Eugene; do something; say something; don’t just stand there.’ She nervously raised the handkerchief to his face again and rubbed again, this time more vigorously and widespread. The handkerchief thickened with paint. Tears streamed down Sarah’s cheeks.
She was now oblivious to his silence and stillness and continued to rub and rub until she could rub no more and finally collapsed to the ground on her knees, dropping the heavily paint-stained handkerchief. She raised her hands and saw with tear-filled eyes that they too were stained with paint; hues that only she could have shown Eugene. Still in shock, she wiped away her tears and looked around the car park. There was no one; not even a sound; she was all alone. Even the station was silent and empty. A sudden gust of wind blew away her handkerchief. Upon the ground directly in front of her was a paint smudge, all that remained of Eugene’s self-portrait.