The old man hobbles along the path, clutching his guitar and a bouquet of red roses. He is coming to visit her grave again.
The flowers are for her favorite color and the music is for her love of dancing. Once, he showed me a photo of her holding their grandchild, and her wrinkled face glowed with joy. I know he doesn’t see her as old though—he sees a dancing girl in a red dress skipping through the mists of time.
He places the flowers on her stone and begins to play “Spanish Harlem.”
The key to my success is a combination of patience and love. My birdseed brings all the chicks to the yard and they make their clever nests in my trees. I’ve become known as the crazy bird lady and I don’t mind a bit because my bird-cams bring in the big bucks. People watch for hours, totally magnetized, as the baby chicks hatch from their eggs, nom up bugs brought by their mommies, and haltingly learn to fly. Now especially with so many children learning at home, I can charge triple for the ads.
And when I return, after a long time, there is nothing. I don’t know what I expected from this place where we loved, lived, laughed, died, but it clearly wasn’t this desertion. Everything is gone: the piano, the bar, the dance floor, the glittering lights, the mirrors. There is no shard of glass to cut through memory’s membrane. All my thoughts stay bound up tight, indistinguishable from one another, as I float into the open hallway. We used to smoke out here, before the bullets came. I can no longer cry, but I can blend into the walls and wait.
Our love began in the winter, when snow frosted the trees. We pretended the table was a ship on high seas. Spring celebrated our hearts with sweet blooms all around, and we laughed as we picnicked on the grassy green ground. In midsummer I was forced to spend time away, yet you swore that you loved me more every day. Now it’s gone autumn and the air holds a chill, but I’m here at our place; I wait for you still. I know you can’t see me, but I can see you, in the arms of another, your promise untrue.
The fair came to town again today. From my window, I see the ferris wheel glittering against the sky. It’s a beautiful velvety night, just like the one last year when we rode the wheel together. But you’re probably with a new girl now, living in the present, making promises you don’t intend to keep. I hope you don’t push her out of the car. A terrible accident, they said, as I lay broken under the wheel. I’ve made great progress though and someday I’ll get out of this chair, walk freely again, and take my revenge. Beware the clowns…
I heard a song today that reminded me of you. It was about a man who collected hearts then ran… eventually he’d return for a second chance. When he kissed a girl, he stole her breath away, but he had ice in his veins. He remained unmoved by love and pain. I cried like I haven’t for a long, long time, my sadness reflected back at me from the ruins of my mind. Eventually, the song ended and I could breathe again. All was tranquil grey, clouds retreating to their space. The water may have rippled across a ghostly face.
She caught a glimpse of him slipping indoors, and she followed, suspecting he was evading her. Barefoot, she padded softly across the cool floor in the dimly lit room. It smelled of oranges in here. Soon there was light again, coming from the top of a staircase. There was also a darker set of stairs. Which was the right way to go? Her instincts told her to head for the light, but she began to worry that it wasn’t the path he’d choose. As soon as she reached the bright staircase, she impetuously turned and headed into the deeper darkness.
The holidayswere always problematic here in the Plutonic Zone. Folks expected a feast, but you couldn’t feed them mutant turkey. Stan the Retired Lieutenant had passed around a writtennotice forbidding the use of the two-headed birds as people food. So annoying.
She woke early and began to creep through the old garden, collecting colorful pebbles for her soup. Some of them had little bugs clinging to them, which would add protein. After a while, her wristbegan to ache from the bitter cold, and she wished she had worn the gloves she’d taken from that dead spaceman.
He paused beside the smooth, towering trees, touching one tentatively as if for balance. The ground was spongy cool beneath his bare feet, but nothing hopped or crawled. Golden light poured in from the north and he slowly turned toward it, shading his eyes. He’d been away for a long time and moved hesitantly, not knowing what dangers lurked. Was his nemesis still hunting him, or did she die in the explosion along with the prototype humans? He needed to find out and began to jog toward the light.
“Cut!” yelled the director. “We’ll do the eyeball scene after lunch.”
I dreamt I was the moon, distant and translucent, and you were my divine horse, my Pegasus. You sailed over the pink pearl seas, steady as a heartbeat. Lavender dawn enveloped the earth as you flew on, silken wings tirelessly playing the rhythm of our love song. You never left me crying in the mortal night, not when I was the moon, surrounded by eternal skies and tended to by stars. You forgot to bring lightning to the gods; that’s how enraptured you were. Your devotion drifted through me like a cloud, angelic mist, but no use to me now.