If this book of mine fails to take a straight course, it is because I am lost in a strange region: I have no map. I sometimes wonder whether anything that I am putting down here is true. I felt that afternoon such complete trust when she said to me suddenly, without being questioned, ‘I’ve never loved anybody or anything as I do you.’ It was as if, sitting there in the chair with a half-eaten sandwich in her hand, she was abandoning herself as completely as she had done, five minutes back, on the hardwood floor. We most of us hesitate to make so complete a statement – we remember and we foresee and we doubt. She had no doubts. The moment only mattered. Eternity is said not to be an extension of time but an absence of time, and sometimes it seemed to me that her abandonment touched that strange mathematical point of endlessness, a point with no width, occupying no space. What did time matter – all the past and the other men she may from time to time (there is that word again) have known, or all the future in which she might be making the same statement with the same sense of truth? When I replied that I loved her too in that way, I was the liar, not she, for I never lose the consciousness of time: to me the present is never here: it is always last year or next week.
She wasn’t lying even when she said, ‘Nobody else. Ever again.’ There are contradictions in time, that’s all, that don’t exist on the mathematical point. She had so much more capacity for love than I had – I couldn’t bring down that curtain round the moment, I couldn’t forget and I couldn’t not fear. Even in the moment of love, I was like a police officer gathering evidence of a crime that hadn’t yet been committed, and when more than seven years later I opened Parkis’s letter the evidence was all there in my memory to add to my bitterness.