He looked at her body as she was walking down the street. Before he saw her face, he was amazed by that slim, tall female body, lightly wrapped in a flowing black dress. That youthful body which was approaching him, as if moved by the focused attraction generated by his own desire. He saw the evocative curves of her breasts, slightly exposed by the low neckline of her dress. He saw her narrow, undulating waist as she seemed to be gliding toward him, into his arms. He saw the slight sway of her hips and the gentle outline of her long legs rhythmically extending the fabric of her garment in an easy, fluid motion. He grasped this approaching feminine figure in an instant.
The next instant his eyes were already transfixed by the beauty of her face. By those large brown eyes, those full lips, that flowing red hair parted in the middle caressing her fragile shoulders. She was stunning. This beauty, matched by so many girls he had seen walking down the city streets during the course of the week, never ceased to enthrall him. Every time he followed it with his eyes, entranced. Every time he felt that momentary sensation of distanced, almost abstract reverence for feminine beauty. For each one of its manifestations, each one of its accentuated features. He indiscriminately paid this silent homage to every pretty woman he saw.
Quite often, he felt as if his body spoke a different language from his mind. Or at least, different imagistic patterns of thought invaded his body, moving it closer to its potential pleasures. While his intellect kept its distance from the woman he appreciated almost like a work of art, his body moved toward her with anticipation and excitement, on the verge of betraying its focused, pleasurable needs. Then, acting with a partly conscious coordination of body and mind, he would walk closer to the pretty woman to see her better, to catch her fragrance, and perhaps even to brush her dress lightly with his leg, as if unintentionally, while moving past her through the crowd.
Once they had passed each other, he would quickly spin around and look at her, careful not to miss a single moment of seeing her departing body from behind, defenseless without eyes before his gaze. Once the danger of her own potential glance diminished, his mind and body could act as one. He would no longer revere her, he would want her. He would want to ravish her, to visually consume her right then and there, before she disappeared from his potent sight.
Fortunately–for him, for her–he would be aware of the physical barriers separating his bodily thoughts from their possible actions. Other people would circulate within the space forever distancing him from her, thoughtlessly eclipsing the movements of her departing form. Then he would turn around full of vague regrets and tangible yearnings, without making a spectacle of his desire. Withdrawn into himself, he would attempt to take her with him: by thinking about her, by memorizing her features and the sensations caused by her fleeting presence, by unfolding the drama of his desire within the more permissive theater of fantasies and dreams.
One time he saw a beautiful young woman with very short black hair. When he looked at her, instead of continuing to look straight ahead proud of the admiration she excited, she returned his gaze. She appeared to be as transfixed by his body as he was by hers. He felt slightly embarrassed by her boldness, caught as he was in his habitual voyeurism by the mirror of her reciprocating gaze. His desire momentarily withdrew when hers advanced.
He was surprised. Women whom he didn’t know rarely came to life under his gaze. Most often, when he looked at them he felt protected from any real interaction, as if he were watching a movie. So when this short-haired woman, a stranger, looked at him in the same way that he looked at her, he felt as if his spectator cushion was jolted from under his seat. Momentarily, he lost his balance. He looked away from her with slight confusion. She walked passed him. Feeling more secure, he reoccupied his spectator position. Out of force of habit, he turned around to watch her disappear into the crowd like the hundreds of other beautiful women before her. Then the curtain of life would be drawn, and the encore would be played, with poignant differences, in his imagination.
But this time his look froze as soon as it found her. She had also turned around and was looking back at him. He didn’t know how to react. He felt like he could no longer continue to pretend that he was a spectator watching her, the spectacle. The distinction between them, a man and a woman, had become more complex in this interplay of glances.
Like him, she seemed confused by their situation. Perhaps she felt that she had been too bold but didn’t know how to withdraw herself from the slightly awkward situation she created. Or perhaps she did not wish to retract her steps. He couldn’t tell. It was possible that she was only considering how she could advance further. Toward him. These considerations filled him with a mixture of excitement and intimidation. He decided to ease the tension with a friendly gesture.
He smiled at her. As if with some relief, she smiled back. He marveled: she was even prettier now, when she smiled. Her formerly inexpressive features came to life. They became bright and accessible, inviting closer contact; calling for the meeting of their two separate worlds: his and hers. Perhaps another world would eventually emerge. A world which was theirs.
Claudia Moscovici, literaturesalon