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     Jan's gone! The words dragged through my brain like the corpses of my hopes. Out there she wandered, alone and trembling, somewhere in a city glutted with gagging smells of traffic, too many pushing people, and surprising unexpected noises. My trained fingers trembled as they brushed across the raised dots of the last sentence. Over and over, over and over my fingertip-nerves transmitted the pattern of the letters to my brain as my hand fell into mesmerizing passes over the line.
     I remembered Jan's beauty: her silky hair, the unending delight of her angular features, her tangerine smell when she wasn't wearing perfume, the rush of her breath through her tiny nostrils. Now Jan had gone, and my hands ached for the softness of her. Why had I said what I did?
     Her stockings, caressing the warm curves of her calves as I had done so often, rustled together like leaves of onionskin paper as she got out of her chair and walked slowly toward me. Reaching for her, I felt two angry wrinkles between her eyebrows before she twisted her face sideways out of my grasp.
     "Leave me alone, Allan," she said, her voice controlled, but I could sense the pressure of her set jaw.
     "But, Jan, darling, you know I touch you because you like me to. You?ve changed so many things since you---," I groped for words, and uttered perfectly wrong ones "---took over my life."
     She moved away, knocking against the coffee table, but my words, not the wood of the table, injected pain into her voice. "You changed your life for me? Because you felt sorry for me? Because you pitied me?" Her voice turned ugly with accusation.
     "Darling, darling---" I feared the wrong words, and thus feared all words except "Darling."
     "Darling, darling, darling," she said in a whining nasal monotone. "If I took over your life, I'm sorry. You pretend to love me, Allan, but sometimes your words give you away."
     "Let's not talk, let's just---"
     "Shut off sight, now you want to shut off sound? I don't need that. I don't need YOU."
     I opened my mouth, but no sound came until the door slammed behind her, and the "Jan" I cried echoed through the empty room.
     My stomach churned in frustration. Always the wrong words? Always! Now I sat alone, more alone that I had ever dreamed possible, because I had learned to live with someone I loved. I wandered weary aimless paths in the carpets, threading my woes through my rooms. She had gone, and I felt like a naughty puppy locked in the house while his mistress went walking.
     "Why didn't you follow her, you fool?" I shouted into the vacant air. "You're WORSE than blind." And then I sighed---how much these thoughts were in my mind. Rather than two people living in placid love, we lived in a world warped by the fact of blindness. But there was blindness and blindness, and I groaned with the withdrawal pangs of love.
     I needed her worse than she needed me. If only I could touch her and make her relax under my soothing fingers, hum softly to her and smooth her hair, or move my lips over her flesh. She---ah, she could love me. My inner feelings reached out into the emptiness until a physical sensation of pain in my straining throat pushed me into a chair, and I sobbed a whipped-child whimper of incomprehensible punishment.
     Echoes of our first conversation floated through my fog of self-torture.
     "Can I help you---Yes, I suppose so---Terrible day for a walk---Like to walk in the rain because the streets are empty---But your feet will be soaked---*CHOO*---God BLESS you, now you're catching cold---It's nothing---You must get out of this rain---Would you like to come to my apartment?"
     It had been as simple as that---words had fitted our purpose, but now ALL words seemed contrary and unmanageable.
     My inner agony abhored words. How could I get her to come back? I was NOTHING without her. The telephone was out of the question, but the ordeal of going to her apartment seemed more than impossible now. "Jan," ---and as if I hadn't been in love until the moment of that sound, my heart constricted under the burden of yearning for her. Hours crept by in pain, and unheeding darkness extinguished the outside world.
     Then I started up and stood before the door: I heard the sound of her cane in the hall outside. Surely she heard my heart pounding in my echo-chamber throat.
     As in a dream, the door soundlessly swung open and her tentative hand reached upward through the opening. "Allan?"
     I stood paralyzed, eyes full of her frightened smile. Slowly, haltingly, her hand followed the warm path of my breath and rested on my cheek.
     "Oh, Jan," and the tightness in my throat permitted not a syllable more.
     "Allan, you're crying." And then no words were necessary as our two separate entities, now reunited, melted one into the other. Sight and sound, smell and touch and taste paled before the quietly consuming blaze of love.