The chink of glasses. Candlelight flickering off their faces. Perfectly cooked food. And most important - the smiles.
They were smiling, the both of them. Happy, glowing faces. They looked like no one else existed out of their bubble. No one else mattered. Nothing else mattered. They looked into each other’s eyes and they smiled. They held hands across the table as they spoke. It was a completely unconscious gesture. Their feet grazed each other under the table, as if they wanted to reassure themselves that they were actually sitting there and it wasn’t a dream. They sipped their wine and conversation flowed just as smoothly. She gestured as she talked and her fingers unconsciously played with the chain she wore around her neck. He couldn’t get enough of her; she was the one he wanted, needed, had. He touched her fingers and laughed in response to something she said.
But scratch the facade a little and the reality reveals itself. The picture is rosy, beautiful, untrue. The wine helps to ease the pain. The hands touch because they need to say good bye. They are actors both of them, putting on the performances of their lives. Pretending, acting, performing. They push their thoughts away, they can be thought tomorrow. They push their sadness away, the tears can be shed in the dead of the night. They push their fears away, those will be dealt with in the nightmares. They hide the doubts away, tonight is supposed to be perfect.
Tonight is supposed to be perfect and the reality can be held at bay for a little while longer. The wine is too good, the food too delicious, the conversation too interesting, the intimacy too natural.
They are consummate actors.
And this is the performance of a lifetime.
Because sometimes, you need the lie to deal with the reality.