Disclaimer: Characters from the television series Highlander are owned by Panzer-Davis productions. I own nothing.
A short story about the dangers of misplaced expectation.

The Scent of Madelaines
Jay Tryfanstone
May 2003


Or I'd crawl to you baby and I'd fall at your feet.
And I'd howl at your beauty like a dog in heat.
And I'd claw at your heart. And I'd tear at your sheets.
I'd say please, please, I'm your man.

Leonard Cohen, I'm Your Man


The scent of madelaines and fresh brewed coffee. What is it Proust says about madelaines? To this day I have never dared go back. He did. But he was mortal, and for him the smell was only a ghost, a memory of things past.

To me it is as vivid as the clear plastic of this table where you and I sit drinking ersatz tea and looking anywhere but at each other.

"I can't trust you." You say to me.

As if you never lied to me.

"I want more than you will ever be able to offer me."

As if you ever asked.

Even now, you are looking away, outside, into the future with its conversations and crowds. I don't think this was ever real to you. I'm not sure what is, filtered through your adamant belief system that I battled, flailing, like a moth against glass.

Is it all acting? Do you expect the lights to come up, the director to clap, the words to fold back into the page as if they were never said? What about you, exactly, is real? I feel as if my voice slides off your skin like water from oil. You've written this script already and anything I say is irrelevant.

We slept together, you and I, almost chastely, sliding under the covers to meet in darkness. You never touched me in public: I never pleaded. I remember the way your eyes slid away from mine when you laughed, as if you were frightened of revealing too much. Only between us, unseen, is the checkered tablecloth of the cafe in Arles where I looked up and you had flushed, unexpected, when you reached across the space between us and took my hand as if it was your last hope of redemption.

I have never wanted to be anyone's god.