Sleep my dear; dream while I watch your face. The comfort of these years is a treasure to me. I am not the person you think. A devil, a witch, that is what I am. I would break your heart if you were awake. Instead, I’ll break mine over your sleeping form. This night, I betrayed your love. I’ve come fresh from my lover’s den. I feel older than I did an hour ago. The ache in my back is still fresh. That vision I saw last night, I still see it when I close my eyes. The gallery was dimly lit. It was almost closing time. I only saw a silhouette at first, briefly lit by each painting. I followed through two rooms before rushing ahead. A face, what face could match that shadowy perfection? And then I saw it revealed beside an oil painting. The bumps on the canvas mirrored my own as our eyes met. We gasped, surprised by this sudden encounter. I turned, ashamed, then looked back. We passed close. I paused to gather myself, then turned to follow. That perfect form stood for another silhouette at the exit. Just for a moment, then gone. I rushed to the door, eager to see my lover in the full light. Yes, dear, I knew from that moment in front of the painting. I only thought of you once, when we were quietly talking over a drink. What conversation is required before a tryst? Why, the same things we talk of everyday, dear. I marveled as we talked of the weather and I marveled at those blue eyes. I held that hand as tightly as I’ve ever held yours, tighter perhaps. We stumbled as we left, trying to press ourselves closer together. We laughed at the motel manager’s scandalous glances. Mr. and Mrs. Smith would like a room for the night, please. In the room, we embraced, free at last. What can I tell you now? I won’t lie and say it meant nothing. It’s been everything to me. You’ll never know, but I’ll always see blue eyes in your brown. What name can I put to this transplanted passion? We were and are strangers. But, I’ll paint that stranger’s face on you for the rest of my life. I’m sorry, dear. I’ve lost everything tonight. I won’t lose you, too. So, I’ll imagine a forgiving look on your painted face. What monster would tell this lie for a lifetime? I will see, and you will too, my dear.

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