You and I, we enjoy one another’s company, I don’t think there’s any denying that on either side, but when it comes to the big things in life, while I hope that we can have a rational discussion, I fear that there won’t be understanding without an alteration of the heart, and I know the ground I stand on, and I won’t move.
Toar read the last reckless paragraph and calmly folded the letter, wondering if there wasn’t an easier way to say good-bye.
It should have hurt, he knew, listening to someone call him stubborn, hard-headed, hard-hearted, and blind. It had hurt Dagny to write it. He could see that in every word, in every way she avoided saying the exact syllables she meant. He could imagine her, sitting, then not sitting, pacing, putting each word into the world as a shout before she managed to pin it to a page. That was her way, to yell as loud as she laughed, and line every decision with iron. He’d never decided if he loved her for that or not, but he liked her for it, and he wouldn’t have chosen to give her this kind of ache himself.
It should have hurt.
Toar considered the letter in his hands, head tilted just to one side.
He thought about reading it a second time. He had no desire even to do that. The page was heavy with her close, dark penmanship, but light in his hand.
He almost wanted to laugh. It was so convoluted, so overly machinated. She could have written half as much with twice the bite and saved herself the conflicting attempt to deliver a bladed message with a gentle hand. He couldn’t have hated her – or whatever it was she feared – for speaking truths. He had never pretended he was anything other than inflexible, difficult, as iron-bound as she was. There was no insult in pointing that out. There was no insult in saying she didn’t want to be near it.
With a little pressure, Toar might convince himself to be angry. He could feel that rolling somewhere in the back of his thoughts, but he wanted it even less than he wanted hurt. So, he let himself smile.
Then he dropped his hands, and the letter, into his lap.
For a long moment, Toar looked out his office window. His yard was empty, but the breeze was playing with the leaves on the top of the lone tree in the corner. The wall stood sentinel behind it, and the city roofs pressed up beyond that. The clouds were gray-blue, so thin that he imagined the sky might tear through at any moment. It looked prepared to rain that night, the light kind of drizzle that might masquerade as dew in the morning.
Through the window fittings, Toar could hear a bird shrilling as it sat on his roof. Through the walls, he caught the smell of dinner, roasting its way to sweetness in the kitchen. His housekeeper would knock in a few minutes, after the sky had dimmed itself for the early evening hours. Toar leaned back in his chair, trying to calculate the time.
Dagny deserved a reply.
He wasn’t sure why the thought landed as firmly as it did. He had been prepared to toss the letter away, and let it be its own seal. He had nothing to say to her, no arguments to make. There was nothing he needed to rebut, nothing to be vindicated.
But she deserved something.
And though he had no need of it himself, it seemed like it should be an apology.
I’m a thief! I stole the first line of this piece from my friend, Kathryn. Be sure to check out her blog tomorrow to see the piece she originally wrote on this beginning.