*Disillusion*, Eduard Jean Conrad Hamman, 1851

Disillusion, Eduard Jean Conrad Hamman, 1851

The sun slowly dives under the horizon. As the sky turns red and the wind turns chilly, the young woman glares at the sea. She waits for a ship to appear out of the faraway mist.

She had watched him leave with a beaming smile stretching across his radiant face. The ship was departing for the western territories. They would build a paradise on earth, he told her. And he would come back to take her. Definitely.

He would send her letters every other month. Each new one she received would ease her longing and give her hope. Soon, they would reunite. Soon, they would hold each other again. Soon, she would be with him forever.

He would write to her about the exciting plants he discovered, the bewildering fauna they hunted, or the breathtaking sceneries he wouldn’t dare describe with mere words. She often caught herself dreaming about her new life over there. She would walk at his side, on the shore, with their three children running, playing around and screaming. Far from the superficial life of the city. Far from the raucous commotions, from the vain hypocrites, from the uncouth peasants. A simple, yet beautiful life.

She spotted a mast breaking the water’s surface. Her heart throbbed slightly. At long last, she thought. The vessel’s shape came into view; the young woman smiled. But her eyes didn’t.

It wasn’t him.

It had been so many years since no letter had come to her. He was coming back, she thought, at first. As a few months elapsed, she grew anxious. What if something happened ? What if he didn’t come back ? What if… The mere thought of it would put her in disarray. There was no use fantasizing about it. All that was left for her was to believe. That everything would be all right. He promised her so.

As the last rays of the sun tainted the clouds purple, she kept gazing at the horizon. She couldn’t even feel sad anymore. Nor was she angry, nor regretful. She felt nothing. Inside her heart, only a lump of emptiness subsisted, engulfing her emotions whole.

Perhaps, that day, she died with him.

Perhaps, where he was now, he was waiting for her.

Perhaps, all of this was just a bad dream.

There was only one way to know.