A Ten Second Affair

Event: 23rd September 2017, 1725 (Written: 25th Sept 2017, 2038) / Place: Pedestrian crossing of Lower Sloane St x Sloane St.

It didn’t take much to fall into an abyss of lost inhibitions and live a lifetime with someone you saw through the crowd in a busy shopping district one gloomy Saturday afternoon.

Time slowed down as she approached the traffic light with those dark mysterious frames, her light brown eyes hidden behind the veil of those graduated lenses, long curly hair with subtle highlights flowing with each step as she crossed the traffic island as if it were a catwalk at a fashion show.

She wore a slouchy, cable knit sweater, loose fit distressed denim that were slightly rolled up above the ankle, and a pair of white Ultra Boosts that had once gleamed in a grey afternoon, but instead told a thousand tales about her past adventures with each layer of dirt and discolouration covering what was once a white shoe.

I couldn’t stop and chat, that’s against all rules of engagement; I’m in a committed relationship, there are boundaries and that crosses the borderline of what can be excused and accepted under the banner of mere admiration.

I kept my head forward as we passed each other on that traffic island between Sloane Square and Lower Sloane Street as if we were two trains, on opposite sides of the track, travelling in two separate directions.

I didn’t look back for fear of losing myself and doing or saying something I could never take back so I kept moving. I mourned the loss of something that never was or could ever be in this dimension of space and time, knowing what my situation was.

That short moment when you crossed my path, I got a close enough look at you to disprove the poplar, ‘look good from far but far from good’ theory. I froze… I was mesmerised, infatuated, transfixed.

I tried to cling onto the railings that separated the world inside the hour glass of reality and the eternity outside. I played out what would be our life several times throughout the day in short fragments.

I could see myself in the reflection of a coffee shop window, listening to you talk about something interesting.

I imagined you being interested in classic literature from authors such as Shakespeare, ancient Greek mythology, travelling to places that don’t often feature on bucket lists; the rural and remote as opposed to cities, pop art’s clever juxtapositional methods; utilising cultural references and symbolism to convey a message, minimalist design and style, political history and socio-anthropology, ethereal music to soothe the soul and a love of putting the world to rights in silence when alone.

In that moment we crossed paths you stood still in a cluster of friends -each one as beautiful but didn’t shine as bright as you. Maybe it was because you were detached from your cluster of stars, in the distance not saying a word, head down, phone in hand trying to navigate your way through human traffic.

I was trying to detect the language spoken by your friends as if I was a CIA agent on the other end of a wiretap. I heard them talking but I couldn’t detect whether it was Farsi, Arabic, Phoenician or an unknown dialect spoken by natives from that region.

I’m wondering whether you’re Bedouin or Berber?

Did you catwalk across the stagnant sea, picking up gifts of salt crystals along the way, to heal these light scratches on the skin of what lust lies beneath?

Crossing coral reefs, stopping by Poseidon’s beach hut on the shore of the scarlet sea, as I gaze at you through binoculars from my minaret -my forbidden desires being called to prayer to repent.

Apologies if my line of enquiry is too intense.

Ten-seconds is all it took to fall head first into an abyss, and live in ten alternating realities at different stages.

No sexual or physical contact, just two people inside picture frames, on the discovery section of an Insta app.

Scrolling through snippets and snapshots in my mind, leading this double life, between dream and reality, as I explore all milestones using hashtags of a life that weren’t meant to be.

Time to lock these thoughts and feelings deep inside the antique chest, and go back to pretending never to have seen you or have feelings for those I vowed to forget.

Allah forgive me for I am no infidel, I’m lost in an ocean of sauce, not sure if these words keep me afloat or have me sinking deeper, perhaps more anchor than life belt.

My composed self is calling for order whilst the rebellious side had called a mutiny, casting Captain Bligh and the loyal authoritarians of inner self out to sea.

Ain’t no life in this boat as we float aimlessly, out on this ocean where I cant distinguish between sky and sea.

Land Ahoy!

I hope the watchman hasn’t been tricked by a nymph, whose voice hypnotised him, as I was when I caught your glint.

30yds away in a crowded place as a star in the sky guiding us whilst we navigate, through a whirlpool of fantasies, to end up on the isle of Ogygia with Calypso, where ten seconds became 10 eternities.

I feel guilty, I wonder whether my conscience has lapsed, because in the ten seconds I fell for you, I totally forgot about the person I’m going home to.

I’ve had to remind myself that I can’t dwell here, I must get back onto the surface, far away, regrettably, anywhere but here.

I’ve gotta cross the River Styx, ensuring I don’t look back, but the part of me that became fond of you did, so I guess he’s trapped.

I gotta keep going, keep my head straight -the walls are closing in, scrambling through the darkness towards the glint of light, the temple is crumbling.

I can’t look back, I keep running, far ahead of my desires to create a gulf of distance to make me forget… You.

I didn’t even get your name tho…

Isabella or Priya – a name fit for a princess, alas I digress.

I’m in a sunken place nowhere near the surface, washed away on the current of fanciful desires, I cannot escape my imagination.

Will I ever get out and get back?

… Who knows?

Maybe I should stowaway on the ship of my conscious, but the part of me that’s hung up on you keeps stirring the tea, so I sink deeper, several more leagues beneath where I’m meant to be.

Maybe I should’ve checked my coordinates before venturing out to sea, prior to falling into a vortex of my vivid imagination where I lived in fantasy.

The act of documenting, dissecting and exploring my ten-second affair feels far more terrible than I initially thought, although I doubt I’m the only one here on earth who’s expressed these empty thoughts.

Better to purge myself by exploring how I felt that gloomy Saturday afternoon, on a pedestrian crossing in Sloane Square, then to keep reliving what feels like a seedy and fanciful ten-second affair.


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