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.