Elijah had been seeing Barbara for almost a month by then. The first few times they had met for coffee, drawn towards each other with a youthful curiosity and suppressed desire, days passed like hours. They relished in this new unexplored space of companionship. Immersed in philosophical conversations about life, exchanging views about what seemed most important, they managed, it seemed, to create their private realm outside of time which did not conform to the usual laws governing the universe. Before Elijah could realize, their quite lengthy acquaintance, for they had by then known each other for over a year, within no more than a few weeks evolved to a state which was an enchanted and exciting platform full of endless possibilities. Both quite shy, and careful not to spoil what grew out of what seemed like hours in their personal timeless world, enjoyed this curious state full of promise yet free from promises. Aside from Barbara’s cheerful, witty and energetic yet controlled demeanor which captivated with its reliably suitable degree of spontaneity, there was one other particular quality which Elijah admired. Unlike anyone he had met before, Barbara wholeheartedly engaged herself into any issue at hand, and with a particular and genuinely considerate approach when immersed in conversation with a colleague, or a friend. "She makes me feel present" was, Elijah felt the best characterization of her caring, engaging and non-selfish nature.
Barbara had a quintessentially feminine and beautiful Rubenesque figure, which sadly did not reflect her desired self image. This bitter dissonance between love expressed and actual self-love, was to become a blemish which would not only encroach into the blissful realm the two friends had conjured, but eventually mercilessly annihilate it.
The first cracks appeared during one of their many outings through the city’s major bookstores. Whilst strolling through the forest of towering bookshelves inside the city’s largest ‘used books’ store, and admiring the beautiful publications of Shakespeare’s works from the beginning of the 20th century, Elijah captured by an almost juvenile spontaneity with a trace of romantic intention, which he wouldn't deny, turned to Barbara and whispered among the colonnade of world’s major literary works: “Close our eyes, and let me lead you into a place within this forest where you will open them again only after you have blindly picked some book – one which you’ll promise to read”. Barbara agreed promptly – and soon, they were silently dancing through this symbolic storage room of millions of stories, fictional and actual lives, hopes and dreams. Upon stopping among some particularly tall bookshelves Elijah delicately twirled Barbara twice and lead her carefully as she blindly reached out for a book - this mysterious book, which they both anticipated to contain a magical spell which would embody everything that led to its emergence from the dormant and dusty forest. It would also bring a promise, a guide, or clue on this treasure hunt for true love. Barbara hesitated a little before allowing her fingers tentatively feel the spines of the books at shoulder level. She pulled a dusty book out, and after what appeared as having glanced at the title she silently turned with a jerk of the neck to Elijah who, not having seen the title himself only puzzled in horror at Barbara’s cold, narrowed eyes piercing him with a deadly and stern gaze out of the frame of a stone cold and fierce grimace which momentarily disfigured her face. She pushed the book into his chest, said “very funny” and marched off with an impatient glance at her watch. Elijah stood there in utter bewilderment at what had just happened, and his eyes widened as he read “Low fat cooking” - a title screaming at him with its colorful and boldface font from the dusty cover of the book.