“I stopped by her water-gate, and climbing up the railing looked in through the window. She was alone. Not reading but staring at the palms of her hands. We had compared hands once, mine are very lined and hers, though they have been longer in this world, have the innocence of a child. What was she trying to see? Her future? Another year? Or was she trying to make sense of her past? To understand how the past had led to the present. Was she searching for the line of her desire for me?
I was about to tap on the window when her husband entered the room, startling her. He kissed her forehead and she smiled. I watched them together and saw more in a moment than I could have pondered in another year. They did not live in the fiery furnace she and I inhabited, but they had a calm and a way that put a knife to my heart.
I shivered with cold, suddenly realising that I was two storeys in mid-air. Even a lover is occasionally afraid.
The great clock in the Piazza struck a quarter to twelve. I hurried to my boat and rowed without feeling my hands or feet into the lagoon. In that stillness, in that quiet, I thought of my own future and what future there could be meeting in cafés and always dressing too soon. The heart is so easily mocked, believing that the sun can rise twice or that roses bloom because we want them to.
In this enchanted city all things seem possible. Time stops. Hearts beat. The laws of the real world are suspended. God sits in the rafters and makes fun of the Devil and the Devil pokes fun at Our Lord with his tail. It has always been so. They say the boatmen have webbed feet and a beggar says he saw a young man walk on water.
If you should leave me, my heart will turn to water and flood away.”
— Jeanette Winterson, The Passion