"I didn't want him, I wanted the impossibility of him", Louise tried to convince herself as soon she saw Fernand. When his imponent figure walked inside that delicate environment, she was awe itself. A smile was conceived in her mind but all that came to her lips was a clumsy stretch of her trembling lips over her teeth. He's here, she thought, he'll know.
Fernand was older now, she could see it in his face and in the glimpse of wisdom that hid in his eyes; streaks of grey hair could be seen emerging in the midst of the thick ebony colored ones. Still, she felt as if neither of them had aged a day since those times where they would cross in the frigid marble hallways, him, an academic, and her, a beginner in that world of burocracy, laws and paperwork. Now, however, not only age had changed, but their positions. They were equals. For all she knew, they were just two people in a bookstore.
"Ms. Andrews." A voice pulled Louise from her daydreams. "It's a pleasure to meet you! Might I have an autograph?"
A sweet lady stood in front of her, handing her a copy of the book she knew so well. "To F., in silence", said the title. In fact, the table she was sitting in, in the very center of that cozy bookshop (Connor, her agent, made sure to arrange that special place for her), was filled with copies and more copies of her newly published book. She was in the end of a long day of meet and greet, autographing and talking about her newest work. It was fifteen minutes before the store closed and that woman was the last before she could go home; that was, before he arrived.
"Yes, of course. Delightful to meet you!" Louise managed to say, quickly noticing that Fernand was patiently waiting behind the lady. "Who should I dedicate it to?"
"Anne." She smiled.
Louise wrote a quick note, autographed the book and bid the lady goodbye with a smiley thank you.
"Louise! What a surprise!" The deep, lively voice sounded in the bookstore once the lady was out of the way. Out of habit, Louise got up; it was always considered a sign of respect towards the professors.
"Indeed, Professor! I must say, it has been a long time."
"Yes, yes. I didn't even know you'd be here today, I was just heading home from work and saw the poster in the window. I just knew I had to congratulate you in person, also buy a copy of your book." He replied, grabbing one of them from the table. "I remember how you commented once to me after a class that a juridical future wasn't what you had in mind. I didn't know you wanted to be a writer, though."
"You remember that?" Louise asked with eyes set in him, but soon brushed away the question.
"Of course. You were one of my brightest students. I knew you were destined to great things." He confessed with his natural sincere ligerity.
"Well, I'm truly flattered. How have you been?"
"As well as can be. Drowning in work. But well, I'd say. What about you?"
"Very well. The book is doing great, I'm happy about that." She faintly smiled. "It's a completely new experience for me, this publishing business."
"What's it about? Your book, I mean."
Louise thought for a minute about how she would answer such a question; she considered for an instant the vague possibility of gathering all of her courage and telling him: it's about you. That would be the truth, of course, for every page of that manuscript was written as a declaration of her love for him. She pondered for a long time gathering all of those poems and love notes and letters and mailing all to him, finally letting it of her chest. "Whatever he thinks of it" she thought, "it doesn't matter. He deserves to know he was loved, and to what extent". Those mad elocubrations were, of course, merely a dream. She couldn't bare the embarassment; to demonstrate feelings is always a vulnerability and, as all vulnereabilities, it is beautiful on paper but in reality they're just vexing. Therefore, instead of giving the writtings directly to Fernand, she gathered all of her texts for him and decided to publish them. She always wanted to be a writer, after all. If he ever saw the book, if he ever read it, it would be enough; all she needed was for him to see it, acknowledge it. Now, there he was. He would finally know.
"It's a compilation of poems and love letters from a woman who loved a man in secret for many years." She said, facing him while he leafed through the book. "A man she didn't know."
"How did she love him, then, if she didn't know him?" He questioned sincerely, his eyes traveling to her.
"Her soul was drawn to his." Louise shrugged. "But the circumstances under which they met separated them. So she loved him and, in the depths of her desire, she wrote. She wrote as one who whispers; she didn't tell him out loud, but there was always the possibility those papers would arrive to him, maybe when she died, maybe in a God-sent miracle."
"I see." He mumbled. "It's a beautiful premise."
"Thank you. Do you want me to sign your copy?" She offered, grabbing her pen.
Taking the book he handed her, she thought for a moment about what to write. It came to her instantly, and this time she took the chance she had. Maybe it would be the only one.
"There you go." She handed it back to him. "I'm happy to see you again, Fernand."
"Thank you, Louise. I say the same; also, I wish you great sucess in your new career." Ferdinand said whole-heartedly. "By the way..."
"Did the papers ever get to him? To F.?"
"They did." Louise replied tenderly. "Yes, I guess they did."
Fernand nodded softly and turned back after giving her one last smile. As he walked out of the store, he opened the book; in the first page, right below the title, there was a sentence written in large, delicate letters:
"To Fernand, out loud.