An Elusive Glance

By - Chloé Picard


Waking up was like emerging from a dream with blurred outlines. Slowly, senses roused, longing for the promise of a new day. Through the window, wind was blowing snow off the roof, turning it into a gleaming cold rain, every sparkling flake pierced by sunbeams.

Heading toward the kitchen, he heard the familiar gurgle of the coffee maker, shortly enhanced by its fresh smell. She was there, reading a book, fitting perfectly into the almost silence of the awakening house. He waited behind the door frame for a while, taking his time to appreciate this feeling held in suspension. She gracefully turned a page with a velvety caress, a wrinkle of concentration between her eyes. He saw wisdom in the furrow in her brow, cherishing this mark of the hours she spent loving, living, worrying and caring for life itself and everybody around her. The light of concentration in her eyes could not quench the subtle concern that was there.

Hearing his light footfall, she raised her head. Her concerned look disappeared in a breath and she smiled at him. “At last you’re awake,” she said with a sleepy voice. He caressed her hair and gave her a kiss on the wrinkle between her eyes.

At this moment, the clock seemed to start its countdown of the day. She asked him what music he wanted to listen to. He knew that his choice will lead her to guess how he felt. These days, he was looking for songs with the power of prolonging the journey. They both liked the voices of strings as the sound reminded them of how wood feels to the touch. He missed those walks through the forest, among the ferns. He remembered his steps creaking on the ground, over dying sticks, formerly parts of trees. They remained an integral part of nature’s cycles, a detail like a brush stroke in a painting.

She started dancing to the music. He enjoyed blurring his gaze, letting her moves become lines drawn in the void. Without warning, a flash printed a forgotten image in his mind. Was he drawing all day long in another life? Where did these impulses come from? His body seemed to remember something… Does it have a memory of its own?

Standing in front of him, she took his hands in hers and immersed her soul in his gaze. He was always blown away by her eyes. He could glimpse the sea in them. Her irises seemed to shudder as waves do over the shore, glittering like the surface of the ocean under a golden sky. It was simply beautiful, but it also made him yearn for something inaccessible.

She blinked. Only now did he notice that the day had already declined. The whiteness of the snow had turned black. He yawned and fell into the misty land of his dreams.

In an untidy room of an ordinary house, she is standing beside him, one hand on the bed. The other is holding the virtual reality helmet she just removed from his head. She sighs. She places it mechanically on the nightstand. They have used the program too long for the day, he needed to rest.

She checks the ripple on his heart-rate monitor. Her eyes glide over his motionless body. She misses him. The sound of his voice. The movement of his hands. Now, they can only meet in this place beyond reality, somewhere in these lines of code on the screen. Sighing, she dabs at his tears with the corner of a handkerchief, his eyes tired from being open for so long. He looks as dead as his body. He is no more than a stick on the ground of his own forest. Dying, but still part of the cycle. Like a season, he will be back.

As weariness settles over her, she needs to sit. She reaches a chair nearby and closes the computer. Her own helmet is lying next to her, ready when she is for the next session. Staring at it, searching for the point of all this, again, she asks herself aloud:

–  “Was this real ?”

Message from the creator of this story’s visual:

I was inspired by the idea that in the story, everything he sees are just pixels, they’re not really real and he has to watch them turn off and fade away.

Joel Robison

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