What Has Become of Us?
Updated: Sep 18
Two shadows are reflected in the dull light on the dark green wall. The large room is simply furnished. The classic wooden furniture enlivens the modern understated décor and the forest green wall adds vibrancy to the otherwise almost all-white room. Everything in the room fits. Every detail is well thought out, every ornament was in its perfect place. The cheerful light of a spring sun shines through the large windows. A warm scenario is reflected outside the windows. Blossoming trees, grass breaking through the covered roads. The cheerful first signs of a spring that suddenly make the city, ugly in winter, beautiful.
And in the middle of it all, a room. A perfect room, beautifully furnished with every possible care. Two shadows sit opposite each other. The silhouette of a woman sitting upright on a chair. The striking shadow of a man in an armchair. Both bodies turned towards each other and yet far away.
"What has become of us?" The man's voice sounds hollow. The otherwise melodious baritone lacks its usual warmth. The silhouette on the chair shrugs.
What can she say? They sit here in a room that represents everything they wanted. And now what? They are unhappy. Nothing has turned out the way they had wanted, and that despite the fact that things had all gone according to plan.
Who could have predicted it? Seven years have passed since they met. It may not have been love at first sight, but it happened quite quickly. They met at a party of a mutual fellow student and that's how their story began.
She liked him and he liked her. They talked, they danced, and it became more. They spent the night together and it was nice. They met more, they got to know each other. He started spending nights at her place and soon half his wardrobe was in her small student flat. They got to know each other's friends and often they were seen together.
They were a handsome couple. Two young people at the beginning of their lives. Two people full of joie de vivre and energy, ready to go out into the world and change it. Full of warmth, they looked at each other, full of confidence and trust.
Time passed and was good to them. They graduated from university, he did his PhD and she built a start-up with friends and former fellow students. They moved in together for good and started dreaming of a bigger place together. He told her about his work and she told him about hers. They found a common routine, an everyday life. They lived well together. They were happy.
The first years passed and they spent a lot of time on their careers, but they managed a good balance. They did not forget the importance of taking time for their partner. Together they developed. They grew older and more mature. There were more responsibilities to carry, more decisions to make. Life became more serious.
But together they were strong. Together they were good. They supported each other, they encouraged each other and they challenged each other. Each of them developed and grew and yet they grew together.
They achieved financial security. They bought a flat together and furnished it according to their wishes. Seven years have passed and now they sit in their flat. The spring of their seventh year dawns and the warmth with which they used to look at each other is gone.
Out of empty eyes she looks at him. His shoulders are drawn together and his gaze averted from her.
"Talk to me," he presses out in an occupied voice.
"How am I supposed to talk to you? You don't even look at me," comes back the sharp reply. His gaze flickers briefly to her face.
"I don't want to argue with you."
"What do you mean argue, we don't even talk to each other anymore." The sharp voice breaks for a moment. "When did we stop talking to each other?"
His hand twitches as if tempted to reach out to her, but he does not. The hand remains on his own knee. Useless and empty.
"You ask me what has become of us?" Her voice hardens again.
She noticed the twitching of his hand. He used to touch her all the time. Often it was only a brief touch. But she liked it. He had never asked for permission and she never had to ask for it. He had known when she needed the warmth of his touch, the confidence it gave her. And now? Now he doesn't even dare to touch her. Even when she needs his comfort. His confidence. But it is gone. Something is broken. Something between them is broken.
She wants to comfort him. She wants to break the gap between them. She wants to go to him. Put her hand in his. She wants to put her hand to his cheek and place her lips on his. She wants to feel the familiar sensation of his skin on hers. She wants to be close to him. But she can't. Her body does not obey.
Anger boils up inside her. Anger at herself. Anger at him. Anger at the situation. Anger at the past seven years. Anger at the friend who had introduced them. Anger at everything and everyone. But most of all, anger at this flat. Why had they bought it? When has everything gone wrong? Why is the flat perfect when they aren't?
Why can’t she explain to him her anger? Why does she speak harsh words when she wants to talk to him? Why is she sitting in her chair and can't move? When did it become so complicated? Her body vibrates with suppressed anger and tears of rage stand in her eyes.
But he does not see it. He does not look at her. He hasn't seen her for a long time. He doesn't know when he has stopped seeing her. It has just happened. They live in this flat, they live together and yet they are so far apart. Past each other.
He wants to talk to her, wants to explain. But he doesn't understand it himself. What has happened? Why can't he look her in the eye and why does he have the feeling that their bodies are separated by an invisible wall?
Together alone they sit in their perfect flat. Misunderstood by the other, without understanding what has happened. Together they sit far away from each other. The warm light of the setting sun casts their shadows on the dark wall.
"What has become of us?"
Story and cover picture by India Wittmershaus.