from The Dancer Upstairs by Nicholas Shakespeare

There is no point trying to understand why people fall in love. My contact with Yolanda had been so snatched, yet the impact had been intense. I was forty-three years old, but I had lived only for a few days. Once you wake up like that, you don’t drop back into sleep. Not easily. Since Monday, when I had bumped into Yolanda in the Bullrich Arcade, I had hardly slept. My heart had become a vast and uncomfortable thing. It reared out of my chest, throwing back my head so I could breathe only with difficulty. As I pressed my forehead to the dark Perspex strip, I could no longer hide from myself the reason for these feelings, this behavior.

In the next few hours that remained until I saw her again, this is what I argued: I was in the saddle of a passion which could lead nowhere. I sifted Yolanda’s character for faults, fumbled with them to that narrow bar of light. She was immature, unpredictable. She had chubby cheeks, an unquenchable appetite for cakes, ugly feet. I pictured her in revolting positions. I summoned her feet and stamped their deformed features on her face, over her eyes. There! Could I find her attractive now? I did. I did! I was in pain. I was miserable. I was ashamed. I was thrilled. The smallest detail rang with her name, from the outline of the jacaranda to the pattern of specks on the Perspex.



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