Whispers. Strained voices. Anxious sighs. Stifled sobs. The sharp staccato raps of heels pounding on the cobblestone street, their echoes remaining long after the tear-drenched woman rounds the corner. Long after the dejected man shuffles away.
Who were they, that couple whose urgent matters spilled into the street and captured the ears of people sitting in cafés, leaning against balcony railings, and watching from the dark shadows beneath the clock tower? What private pain burst into such a public display of heartbreak, such a ruinous end to what might have been a lifetime of joy?
Every couple sitting in those cafés heard the message that their time, too, could come. The women leaning against the balconies sensed it, as well. And the people beneath the clock tower cringed at the evidence that their own lives could shatter against the hard cobblestones.
All of them listening to the couple’s dissolution were strangers with no bonds between them but in those moments, in that street scene, they felt their lives bound together with steel cables. They heard the sounds of their own hearbeats slamming their dreams against the walls of their chests and they felt the inexorable sense of loss that never departs.