This was the fulcrum upon which his entire consciousness had hinged upon for the past couple of days. One flitting moment of eye contact was all it took to unravel his senses and dismantle the mask of rationality that he had always laboured to maintain on the surface, serving the dual function of blinding himself and others with the illusion of a solid stoicism that hid an unspeakable depth of turbulence within.

The truth was, it caught him by surprise right at the moment in which he had a pronounced vulnerability to shocks. Caught off balance, he stumbled and reeled, his mind on one hand screaming for support, yet on the other struggling to feign a calm indifference in front of her, this –

Examiner, physician, and above all, this female who more than anyone else resembled his ex, so much more than the best in the multitudes of feminine expression he saw around him every day.

He had always suspected something akin to a blind spot buried deep inside of him, a trigger which if pulled would unleash this unknown facet which he had always chosen to ignore, hesitated to acknowledge, and which he refused to get acquainted with.

Yet it was forced upon him with utter speed and reality – there was almost a violence to it – that stark Thursday afternoon, in the stark lighting of the clinical skills examination room, breathing in the stark air which had undoubtedly circulated between their lungs, touched upon their alveoli, and traversed their blood and bone with an unrivalled intimacy.

As though all nerves were under a prolonged hyperpolarization, as if struck dumb with lightning, her performed the task of that station, neck and thyroid examination, as if in a trance. Actions and the scripted running commentary were carried out robotically, without a real thought to the actual situation or what in the world he was really doing.

She, of course, took the liberty to point out his blatant mistakes. Such tactlessness and lack of flexibility with which he reflexively responded, those are his fatal shortcomings, all manifested within the short span of five minutes. In full bloom too, in front of the replica of a person that he… had yearned so much and so long to catch a glimpse of, yet at the same time had dreaded seeing.

It was with a bit of remorse, a bit of shame that he moved on when the bell signalled the transition to the next station. So much so that he couldn’t even will himself to look at her, nod a goodbye, or even signal a note of thanks as courtesy – for fear of what he would see in those big, dark eyes of hers.