The first stars poked out, like holes bored into the fabric of the sky. Jan and Alli sat, as they usually did, on the porch, facing Jan’s backyard. They were drinking mint juleps. Jan pulled a blanket around herself, shivering in the evening cold.
“Sometimes, I miss Nealy,” Alli began.
“Why?” Jan asked, turning around, “You have Ran. Isn’t she nice?”
“Yes, of course,” Alli nodded, “But in my heart, I miss Nealy, the original one.”
“Does an original love have to be the best one?” Jan asked.
“No, definitely not,” Alli answered, “But I can’t shake this feeling, this sense of time that sits within me.”
“You are hanging on to a memory, perhaps?”
“One might say so,” Alli inclined her head, “A frustration with a constant state of déjà vu.”
The moon was rising. The golden light fell on their faces, as the orb crested the trees of the wood. Alli had kayaked up the river to Jan’s house.
“Do you think that you can get that feeling back?” Jan said, looking into the twisted vines and bushes, beyond the world of her lawn.
“Or, I don’t know why this feeling hasn’t left yet,” Alli said.
“The era of your feeling is never coming back. You can’t get it back. You can’t go back. There’s nowhere to go back to. The nostalgia goes nowhere,” Jan said.
She continued, glancing at Alli, “When you left me, I realized one truth: people keep trying to preserve a world that no longer exists. Even if given the choice, would you really go back to that time? There’s only one way to look – forward – toward the future.”
Alli looked at Jan, still mixing the drink in her own hand, with the cocktail straw. The words did not come, so she looked back up at the moon.
Puccini – Tosca, Act 3: E lucevan le stelle
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