I look at him; I see him.
Have you ever looked up the word ‘see’? Compared to ‘look’? Perhaps you should. There’s a difference, you know.
I have to admit that I found that out because of Paul, though not from any dictionary. From that very first mission Paul saw me, the real me that I believed no one ever saw, yet I was never hidden from him though it took me a while to understand that. He saw me better than anyone ever had, better than my wife ever did. He saw my pain, my despair but he also saw my need. A need I didn’t even know I had.
I know now that I reacted to him because of his special awareness of me, because I was – ever so slowly – learning to see him. I think that eventually I saw him better than anyone ever had.
When I realized that, I became afraid. To see someone that clearly puts a responsibility on you and somehow gives them an odd kind of power over you. Weigh that against the knowledge that they see you just as clearly and you are balancing over a precipice. Either you will fall or you will grab each other for support.
So what do I do now? A lot of time has gone past. I have a sense that perhaps at last the time has come. I have to be sure though. I want him to grab me, to hold on to me for support, yet I’m afraid he will let me fall.
I’m watching him now.
He’s just standing there talking the way he does with his hands almost as much as with his voice. I’m hanging on to each and every word, though if you asked me later to explain what he was talking about I couldn’t tell you. It wasn’t what he said as much as how he said it.
That voice, warm and soothing, yet tinged with excitement. Like his expression. Once I caught sight of his eyes my description of him changed from excited to passionate. In my mind, where Paul is concerned, they are indistinguishable, the man just exudes passion.
Which is rather my problem because I wanted that passion aimed at me. I know how much he cares; I’m just not sure he cares that way. I’m not even sure that he thinks about love or sex, not since he lost his partner. I think he buried all such thoughts and he purposely lost himself in his work.
Which, even putting my own desires aside, is so sad. Never has a man had so much to give.
Then suddenly, he stopped talking, his mouth slightly open. He snapped it shut and dipped his eyes for a moment. I frowned because I didn’t understand why he stopped mid-sentence.
Then he raised his eyes staring directly at me and I felt a tightening in my stomach, a thudding in my chest and all at once I was afraid to meet the gaze of my best friend and I dropped my eyes. I was afraid that he already knew what I wanted, what I desired – what I feared.
He breathed my name and almost unwillingly I lifted my gaze to meet his bright blue eyes. They were sparkling and his lips were curved in an odd, almost embarrassed smile.
Then I remembered something and I smiled. For a while I had forgotten that when he looks at me; he sees me.
For a short while, I had been blind. Now, once again, I can see.