Reality in Two Lines, a Diptych by R.A. Casilao

I. Affinity

How the years had shot past them.

They’ve kept in touch, sure, but nothing in bulk. Just the basic How-are-yous and I’m-doing-wells. Unimpassioned communication, Marvin would call it.

Yet surprisingly, running into Kurt, who had just gotten off from guard duty at the new shopping mall, wasn’t awkward. They hugged, called each other names, hit each other, all in the spirit of friendly banter.

In their favorite restaurant, they caught up with each other’s worlds. Unconsciously, they skipped the cursory polite talk and dove right in. Marvin was a doctor now, getting hitched soon. Kurt, on the other hand, finished a vocational course, currently waiting for Miss Dead-on, the woman who would say “Yes, I’d love to go out with you again.”

The restaurant owner recognized them; once rowdy boys in rugged high-school uniforms, now dressed in the styles of their professions. He brought them a generous plate of cut, deep-fried pork belly. “On the house,” he smiled. The two men ordered more beer.

Sometimes they’re quiet, sometimes they guffawed. The night grew deep.

After this they wouldn’t see each other more often, but they knew what they’ve got: a friendship that would last. Absolute affinity, Marvin would call it.


II. Antipathy

No excuses were quick enough to shirk the invite ‘You going somewhere?’ which they both regret. Now, they are in their “favorite” restaurant being awkward over a couple bottles of beer and a neglected side dish.

They both think of things to talk about. The initial polite talk is over, and they both fear asking the same question again and hearing the other say “you’ve already asked that.” When they do start talking, they speak at the same time, and after the yo-yo of you-go-aheads, they’ve completely forgotten the thought they were trying to say and have to think quickly of something meaningless and speak it to fill the void.

What do doctors and security guards have in common? They exist in different circles, one an immense discomfort to the other. Their places in the ladder are separated by a lot of rungs.

High school was a different world, a different life. There was absolutely nothing to relate the past to anything in the present.

Social status, prejudice, judgment, envy, resentment. How strong must a childhood friendship be to breach all this?

They both leave, making shallow excuses, promised to meet more often, but they both knew those were mere words.