On Love (And Epiphanies)

“you know, it isn’t worth anything unless it costs you something.”
he sank back into the chair’s rich leather, and brought his cigarette to his lips.

“obviously.” she smiled a little and crossed her legs. in the flickering light from the fire, her lipstick gleamed like blood.

“is it? think about it.” he raised an eyebrow, and a thin wisp of smoke curled out of his nose. “we value most the things that cost us most, yet we expect love to be free.”

“we wonder why a love that is easy isn’t worth having, yet we are still surprised when the loves that matter to us demand so much.” she brushed a curl out of her face and lifted the glass of wine resting on the table between them. she did not drink, but traced her finger around the rim, gazing absently at the scarlet swirling liquid.

“it makes sense.” he took another drag. “if we protect ourselves from cost, we also ‘protect’ ourselves from any real value. you get what you pay for, i guess.” he exhaled slowly, watching the smoke build a personality before vanishing. she took a sip of wine, pressing her lips together and closing her eyes for a moment, allowing each tone and flavor to come and bow to her senses before she swallowed.

“good wine.” their eyes met and she smiled a little. he laughed silently. yes, it was very good wine. she set the glass back on the table, leaned across it and eased the cigarette from between his fingers. she brought it to her own lips.

“i could give you your own, you know.” he said, taking a sip of her wine.

“this is more fun.” she winked and handed it back to him.

“think about it, though. it’s like an investment.”

“less like an investment than what you first said. it’s more like a purchase. you will never get better returns than what you are willing to pay. with an investment, there is always the possibility of turning your eight dollars into a thousand.”

“what stocks do you invest in?” he grinned. she blushed a little.

“ok fine, bad example. but you see my point. you can never expect anything from a love that only costs a tiny corner of your heart. if it isn’t dangerous, it isn’t possible.” she rested her chin on her hand, her elbow on the table, looking at him earnestly.

“what about salvation?” the little crease appeared between his eyebrows. “it’s free, so shouldn’t that render it worthless?”

“i’ve actually seen people use that as an excuse.” she leaned back again and took another sip of her wine. “’if God gives away his salvation for free, it must not be worth having.’ the thing that we forget is that it isn’t free.” she looked at the glass in her hand. “it cost His own blood. what is more costly than that?” his cigarette was nearing the end. he took a last drag and set it in the ashtray, watching the end smolder silently for a moment. she was still marveling at her wine.

“i see your point, but from the outside, it still costs me nothing. sure, some guy somewhere died for something, but it is handed to me for free.”

“is it?” she left the wine and fixed her attention on him. in this light her eyes looked almost black.

“isn’t it?” the right side of his face glowed from the fireplace but the left side was almost completely in shadow. she thought he looked like he belonged in a film noir with his heavy brows and dark hair.

“think about it.” she leaned forward again, “if it’s free, it’s an awfully expensive free. what doesn’t it cost?” when she was about to have an epiphany, her head always tilted a little to the left, and the muscles in her neck tensed. “i mean, it takes everything, doesn’t it? your future, your plans, your ability even to make your own decisions about your life. i mean—you still get to decide what to have for breakfast in the morning—but big decisions: like what vocation, or who to marry, they aren’t your own anymore.” she paused for a moment, stroking the stem of the glass absently. “maybe if it doesn’t seem valuable to someone, it’s because they haven’t actually felt the cost.” she looked up at him. his chin was propped in his hand and his fingers covered his mouth, but his gaze was fixed on her. he like that she thought out loud. he like that he got to watch. “it’s like the parable of the pearl of great price.” she continued. he could see the connections finding themselves in her mind. “i always thought it was a silly story. i mean seriously,” she raised an eyebrow, “what kind of crazy person sells his house to buy a pearl? what can you do with a pearl? you can’t eat it, or live in it, or wear it? he’s insane! but the thing is…” she took another sip of wine. she was sitting with her back straight and her head tilted. her words were coming faster now. he wished the idea light bulbs from comic strips and cartoons existed in real life. “the thing is that he seems like a crazy person to me because i’ve never seen the pearl. to him, it would be foolish not to sell his house and everything to buy it. if we don’t understand the value of a thing than how can we be willing to pay it’s price? and if we underestimate it’s value, most likely it is only because we haven’t understood it’s cost.” she leaned back against her chair. her face was a little flushed.

“i think you’re right.” he hadn’t moved since he’d put out his last cigarette. he slid another one out of the box on the table, lit it, and handed it to her. she took a drag and then a sip of wine.

“i’m sorry. i got a little carried away.” she glanced up at him a little sheepishly from under her lashes. he just smiled.

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~ by ifindthisamusing on January 19, 2008.

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