When we moved to this district they became the first couple which I had noticed. Every day, regardless of the weather or any other external condition they went for a walk always holding hands. Every time I hoped to decipher who of them led. It seemed that she was stronger than he and she led, warned about the high steps, supported. Another time I wasn’t so sure because he was definitely the one who led, rearranging her shawl and when they stepped on the road, he covered her with the hand and looked around as if protecting from the traffic dangers. I failed to decipher who leads who in their couple. For all these years they had been walking holding hands, every single day, always, regardless of the weather, always hand in hand. Only that over the years they began to squint more and their steps became smaller.
Sometimes, I was openly amused by them. I stepped on the sidewalk and slowly followed them for several minutes, watching, staring, thinking if I could do the same at their age. Sometimes, influenced by my own mood, they irritated me deadly. Walking here and there as if the ducklings on the sidewalk, no way to get around them, hand in hand… Why the hell did they hold those hands? They’d better go like everyone – the head down, the body forward, the gaze inside oneself and ahead to do own business, as quick as possible so not to keep anyone. There were times when I openly envied them or imagined any dramatic story of their life. Every time, depending on my mood, my attitude to this old couple changed. For all these six years they, holding hands and ambling along in their world, didn’t forget to look at each other as if first met.
Of course, I wished I had had the same marriage life, so that at the age of 80 to hold hand of the beloved one but in my ‘almost forties’ you are not hurrying to wish this because you already know – only other and distant life can be easy that you see as a film by separate happy episodes. And there, behind the closed door, every family has its own pot boiling with trifle offenses, forgotten controversies, and hastily hidden quarrels. That’s why I wish I hadn’t had their life but just tried to guess their secret. They must have had a secret in their eighties if they hold hands so strongly if they look into each other’s eyes if they support each other this way. And I seemed close to finding out their secret…
But they stopped going out. For several months I hadn’t been irritated by their small steps on the sidewalk, for several months I hadn’t been amused by their tender hand-holding. The children ran on the street, newly minted parents gravely walked with prams, tired people of different age went on their own business and nobody already held hands. I even managed to end the fairy-tail with the phrase “they lived long and happily and died on the same day.” Well… It happens.
Recently I’ve seen them again… hand in hand… but woman’s hand was different. A completely different woman was holding his hand, or it was he… A completely different woman was arranging his collar. A completely different woman was saying out loud to him the shopping list. He was covering behind his back a completely different woman before stepping on the road. But this hand-holding remained the same. I don’t know what this story is about but it is definitely about love.
Take my hand and never let me go.