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Sublime  •  16 September 2021  •  Fiction

A Timeless Spotlight

By Jeremy Fung
A Timeless Spotlight

On lukewarm days when the weathered clouds struggled to conceal the amber glow of the sun‭, ‬I was reminded of a couple‭. ‬Tim and Bea‭. ‬Dramatic‭ ‬but inspired‭, ‬their relationship fluctuated between a blazing star and a distant supernova‭. ‬Their mornings were built on ceaseless bickering‭, ‬and their nights were exercises in repairing Rome’s ruins‭. ‬Together they performed a dance routine down at the local club‭. ‬For such a small establishment‭, ‬the line-ups were relatively well-known‭. ‬It was breathtaking when Tim and Bea performed their routine‭. ‬The spotlight cast a golden grace on the pair’s‭ ‬weightless twirling‭. ‬Their performance was as mesmerising as it was ephem-eral‭. ‬We wondered if the spotlight was a figment of our imagination‭, ‬as it often froze after Tim and Bea faded into the darkness‭.‬

Tim was the easier of the two to understand‭. ‬Austere‭, ‬reliable‭, ‬one-dimens-ional‭. ‬If you asked him a question you didn’t know the answer to‭, ‬you could expect nothing but the most logical and natural progression available as his response‭. ‬In many ways‭, ‬Tim was like an hourglass‭. ‬A drink with him was a venture onto a parched beach‭, ‬devoid of heart but dense with discussion of irrationality‭. ‬Before you knew it‭, ‬the sand beneath your feet hardened‭, ‬and you were left with the empty glass‭.‬

Not that I minded the rigid algorithms he seemed to embody‭. ‬I knew what to expect with Tim‭. ‬If anyone was late to an allocated meetup time for a drink‭, ‬it was me‭. ‬Tim waited for no one‭. ‬If I were five minutes late‭, ‬he would‭ ‬leave five minutes early‭. ‬The one time I asked him why‭, ‬well‭, ‬he laughed‭, ‬and‭ ‬then he told me‭, ‬“I’m always on the move‭. ‬I don’t wait for anyone‭.‬”‭ ‬There was always that quality about Tim‭. ‬The biggest concerns he had were always with the future‭; ‬the past and present were simply outcomes he held in high‭ ‬regard or completely ignored‭. ‬An air of uncertainty seemed to surround‭ ‬our conversations‭. ‬I knew when our appointed meetings ended‭, ‬but not how‭ ‬fleeting the discussions of the listed agendas would be‭. ‬Preparation was only as effective as Tim wanted it to be‭. ‬

Bea was harder to read‭. ‬When she was with Tim‭, ‬she was unpredictable‭. ‬At her worst‭, ‬she was the peak of winter‭, ‬and at her best‭,‬‭ ‬she was the blossom of spring‭. ‬But it was hard to say whether you were really speaking with Bea or a projection of Tim‭. ‬Most people knew Bea as the unattainable perform-ance that you were lucky enough to experience in your lifetime‭. ‬A show to remember but not a personality to understand‭. ‬Had you asked most people who knew Tim and Bea‭, ‬they would tell‭ ‬you of the intellectually stimulating conversations they had with Tim and fall mute if you asked about Bea‭. ‬Per‭-‬ haps there was unseen tension that spectators could never grasp behind the bewitching performances‭. ‬After all‭, ‬what else could explain Bea’s unwavering‭ ‬obedience to Tim‭? ‬Of course‭, ‬Tim by himself was not a bad person‭, ‬but a judge guided purely by logic could never understand the‭ ‬issues that make us human‭.‬

‭*‬

Bea separated from Tim after a few years‭. ‬I didn’t ask her for a reason‭, ‬and she didn’t feel the need to disclose it‭. ‬In the weeks following the separation‭, ‬the audience at the show dwindled‭. ‬Mostly the older folk‭,‬‭ ‬who saw more to move onto than a solo performance by a woman they barely knew‭. ‬But not me‭. ‬There was grace in solitude‭, ‬and the‭ ‬unfettered temper with which Bea now danced lacked the repulsiveness of order and predictability‭. ‬It was the same performance‭, ‬but the shine of the spotlight stayed‭.‬

If Tim was ever anything to Bea‭, ‬he would have been an inhibition‭, ‬a limiter‭.‬‭ ‬Without Tim‭, ‬it was like the sun never set in Bea’s eyes‭. ‬She had a peculiar‭ ‬trait‭. ‬For all her time in the spotlight‭, ‬no one could pinpoint her exact‭ ‬appearance‭. ‬To some people‭, ‬she was a queen whose image was every bit regal as it was majestic‭. ‬To others‭, ‬she was a commoner whose expressions‭ ‬evoked a mixture of compassion and longing‭. ‬Personally‭, ‬I saw the latter and found myself quite confused when people would tell me they saw the former‭.‬

I often spoke to Bea about oceans‭. ‬How beyond the litter‭, ‬pollution‭, ‬and green‭, ‬there were still the vast azure plains‭, ‬warping‭ ‬and crashing into one another in perfect ignorance of their slowly corrupting environment‭. ‬She usually agreed with my sentiments about wastefulness‭, ‬but she also constantly remarked to me as a reminder‭, ‬“Even if the oceans become a swamp‭, ‬someone will still find an elegance in the frothy algae and hanging vines‭.‬”‭ ‬These days‭, ‬as I gaze out towards the sleeping sun‭, ‬I can’t help but agree‭. ‬Even while the colours dim into darkness‭, ‬it remains beautiful‭.‬

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