He stands on the edge, on the outside, watching, looking in. His feet do not, cannot move. His mind spins.
Twirling, whirling, spinning, turning
He is rooted here, in this moment, at this time and place while the memories take him back. He shouldn't be here, not for this. They do not belong here.
Turning, dancing, laughing, spinning
When he steps off the kerb, the years fall away. He is not young again. (He is still young, trapped in no man's land between living and dying). But he is different. He is the other man, who laughed easily and lived freely.
Laughing, whirling, dancing, holding
She knew that man and loved him. Jack is not that man, so perhaps she will not know him. Perhaps she will not see that man in this one, the man who has been burnt away by the time and the years.
Dancing, turning, smiling, laughing
When she opens the door, he knows that he is wrong. Because he knows her and sees her through the time and the years. And she knows him.
The word is a breath in his ear, a whisper just for him. He tightens his arm around her, feels her move against him. They move as one.
Turning, smiling, dancing, holding
He has known her three hours and the whole of his life. They are alone, bumping shoulders with all the last-chance couples, dancing away their tomorrows, the days that will not come.
Dancing, holding, laughing, crying
He smiles somehow, forcing air into his lungs so that he can speak. "Not exactly."
She is confused, upset, and he reaches for her without thinking. When she pulls away, frightened, he realises there are tears in his eyes.
"I'm sorry." The story; he must focus on the story. "My father, he loved you so much."
Holding, smiling, dancing, kissing
He brings her hand to his lips, tasting her. She is all his senses now, all his world while it lasts. He wants nothing but what she is. When she cries, he kisses her face, consuming her as she consumes him.
Crying, kissing, dancing, merging
The story keeps him from breaking as it spills out. How his father never forgot her. How he went home heart-broken and married for comfort instead of love. How his wife died young and he raised his son alone. How he died with her name on his lips.
Merging, holding, laughing, crying
She is so young and so sure. She comes to him with no hesitation, no uncertainty and no fear. He holds her gently so that she will not break and tightly so that he cannot forget. She is burned on his soul
While she makes tea, Jack looks into his own eyes. The man in the photograph cannot be real and yet he remembers the day it was taken. He remembers the others too. He is glad she has kept the pictures even as they cut a hole in his heart. Not recognising that man makes it easier to be this one.
Smiling, holding, sighing, gazing
She has her father's camera to capture each moment as it passes. No-one thinks there will be many of them, each more precious than the last. And so they pose together and apart, marking the point at which they are here, so they will still have been here when tomorrow doesn't come.
She talks of passing years, missed chances and lost letters. He listens and smiles and stops his heart from breaking in each passing second. She talks of the hobbies that are now her work and the plants she has grown. He finishes his tea and promises to come again.
Smiling, sighing, crying, promising
They swear unbreakable oaths that will shatter into pieces. They seal them with kisses and embraces and days and nights. They cling to each other and they do not let go and they part. They cry.
She weeps a little as he leaves, grief for what was not. Jack blinks away the tears, knowing that there will be more. The relief of finding her, seeing her, touching her, is overwhelming and he wishes he had not come. Because now he will lose her twice.
Promising, holding, kissing, sighing.
And so he will come again. He will take every moment he is given, just as he did then, until they are no more.
Turning, smiling, loving, breaking