Richard 32

They’re serious eyes, that’s the first thing you notice about them, and they shine in the soft light reflected upwards from the tabletop beneath the shaded tablelamp. The pupils stand wide in the half-darkness, and in each of them is a tiny man. This tiny man fits into the pupil most perfectly, like a jewel into a jewel-case. His appearance is striking. He reminds me of a small golden cloud left in a clear evening sky, or a smile left in the bathroom mirror. No description of her would be complete without a complete description of him, so I’ll start with his eyes, since they always seem to be looking at me. They never blink, either. They’re not so serious as hers, but they also shine in the soft upward light, and the pupils are wide. But what makes them immediately recognizable is that in each pupil is a little woman. Now, no description of the little man could ever be exhaustive unless it included a description of the little woman in his pupils…

I’m sorry about all this. It’s probably because it’s the fourteenth of the month. Which, as psychiatrists now recognize, is three days after the eleventh.

She’s forty-four, you know. Quite matronly. Wears spectacles to read. Doesn’t laugh – never laughs.

I’m thirty-two. Thin as a sheet of paper. Have to keep my spectacles on until my face is about sixty centimetres from hers. Enjoy an occasional laugh.

Michael Frayn