They eat at a respectable restaurant situated purposefully by the entrance to the “Beyeler Foundation”. The menu is foolproof, tested and approved by its guests consuming here the more rewarding part of their visit after having verified that Swiss money is well placed in the vaults of the foundation.
Magda and Alex, both in a conciliatory mood, lean over their plates trying to forget the troubling sight of a handicapped boy creeping on all four around a Mercedes minibus that brought him back from an educational outing for “special” children to a ritzy mansion on the hill where he gets all big money can buy; well trained personal caring for his needs - love non included.
“A propos how is Nathalie?” She asks with the intention to hurt.
“There you are asking me too much, Magda. I haven’t seen her for ages. I presume she is working on her Ph.D. Our paths rarely cross. I don’t hold it against her. One has to accept a situation for what it is and go on with one’s life. This had to be expected.” He says, loneliness seeping into him like freezing fog.
“She taught me something utterly strange. Love exists only out of reach of your hand and looking for fulfillment through both flesh and heart can’t be done. This was a quite unexpected experience that hit me like a bolt from the blue. One is not damaged if living in an illusion but awakening from it.”
“Poor Alex, I knew it from the very beginning that Nathalie was bad for you. As we were both competing for you I was reluctant to warn you not to give you the impression I was mudslinging a rival. It is never too late to start anew with another girl, is it?” She says ready for anything to get him. Why does she do it? Isn’t it much wiser to have no feelings for him, keep her head and get from him what she wants? Yet how can she be sure she can do it?
She stares at him struck by the suspicion that she may be in love with him. Hasn’t she been from the very beginning trying to make him need her by anything, anyhow, even lying and cheating? Wasn’t she a better choice for him than Nathalie with her high-brow fancies, looking down on him for not being a cinema buff and not having read her intellectual rubbish? Wasn’t this her way to prevent him from getting hurt? She knew subconsciously that Nathalie had no feeling for him. Would she ever go whoring for him, would she interrupt her studies, would she leave Paris for a medieval hole like she had? How can she, Magda, be such an idiot to fall for a man who brings her nothing but heartache and trouble?
“Are you all right, Magda?” Alex watches her closely.
She glares at him unable to bear the shock of the truth. Alex is the burning candle around which she circles like a moth to get burned in the white heat of her illusions.
“What is it, tell me, Magda?” He covers her hand with his.
“If I told you that I love you, would it be good or bad news, Alex?” She dares him knowing she is signing her death sentence.
“Are you out of your mind, Magda? Of course you won’t do anything that crazy! Loving me you will always be alone, worse than alone, you will be in the company of a man unworthy of you! Have you forgotten how much more attractive Vince and John are? One glance at them and I am out!” He tries to convince her, and his voice, even if low and gentle, is a threat; its tone is controlled and without any trace of feeling.
“I love you, Alex!” She screams and her intensity - so unsuitable for these respectable surroundings - makes the heads of the guests raise for a second more than their breeding allows -Don’t see, don’t hear, don’t tell-.
“I LOVE YOU, ALEX!” She repeats with a helpless, disconcerting sincerity.
“Control yourself, Magda! Everybody is staring at us.” His eyes struck her with a blindingly white flash of fury.
“I don’t mind, Alex! You are the only one who matters!” She screams drowning in her despair. Her hand, creeping on the tablecloth to encounter his, clears the table of everything on its way.
“Stop it, Magda!” He picks up the knocked over salt and pepper cruets and waves the waiter to mop up the wine spreading like a shockingly red puddle of blood upon the tablecloth.
“I love you, Alex, I do!” She pleads with a helpless, appealing sincerity.
“You are drunk, Magda. Take your purse, we are leaving!”
She doesn’t move and looks straight at him with a soft smile as if begging him to understand the meaning of what is happening wishing she had died before she allowed this disaster to happen, but at the same time aware that she will repeat it again and again as there are certain words, irrevocable and destructive, that can’t ever be taken back.
He hands her a Kleenex looking at her with the glacial disdain of compassion and leads her out. By the look of the cloudless skies it will be a perfect day.