There will never be satisfaction: He can never do enough.
If you break ice, you can melt it and freeze it back to what it was. If you break a diamond, it is beyond your means to make it whole again.
If you break a heart?
If you cause suffering, can you suffer enough to atone for it?
This was all so long ago, this saddest passion of his life. Why is he thinking of it now? He knows why: He sat down and smelled Ysatis, a perfume he knew years ago. Someone passed by wearing it. One smell is enough: satis-olfaction? And now he is back on stone streets across an ocean, now they are dancing in a park, now he is with her on a sofa in the dark, now he is meeting her for the first time. He must have said something to break the ice that she liked. Whatever it was, it was enough: satisdiction. Not necessary but sufficient. He thinks of her hand taking his, of his hand reached around the small of her back and the roughness of her loose synthetic-fibre shirt, of her eyes in amused anticipation.
When you are young and have never been in control, have never been the master of another, have only heard “That’s enough!”, you always love the one you can hurt. When they stretch their head back and show you their neck for kisses, you love them because you could bite them. But you don’t admit it, you don’t know it. Until your teeth are sunk in and tearing at the voice that wants to tell you…
Too late. Too many cruel words, enough said to subtract all the good ones. When you know you’re unlovable and you’re loved by the lovely, you have to undo it all to make it make sense to you. Go find someone else. Go prove you don’t need because you can’t be needed. He winces now as he takes a drink.
But it was so long ago. He hurt for a long time after, knowing what he had thrown away. Missing, at first, the neck he could bite into. Later, realizing why he had been missing that, and hurting more because of knowing. And all that time, not even sure how much she had hurt because of it.
He could never undo the hurt. But if he hurt as much? If he suffered as much? He cannot give satisfaction, but can he give satispassion?
Satispassion. Not just a word, a theological concept: atonement by an adequate degree of suffering. Newtonian motion of emotion, a physics of metaphysics.
But who is it enough for, here and now? He doesn’t know how much she has suffered. She doesn’t know how much he has suffered, and she won’t. He knows that she has a good life now with someone else, and has for years.
For that matter, so has he.
Who is now observing him as he feels again the shock of sadness and longing? He is the only one. He needs to be hurt, or how can he be loved? And when he has felt it again, it is enough again, and it passes on. For now.