I did love you, once.
I dream, sometimes.
I dream that I am walking above the waterfall. I walk above it on a thin straight line, a black wire strung across the abyss.
In the morning, I wake. I smell your waffles.
You and your waffles.
I imagine a man walking along the ridges, precariously balanced between the little squares. The little squares are filled with syrup. I do not want the little man to fall into the syrup. But still, driven by some terrible urge, I press my fork down into the squares. I destroy the ridges. I take away the little man’s support. He tumbles down into the syrup. He cannot breathe, but he cannot die. He can only hang in the void of the syrup, the void where time slows down and a second takes days to pass and there is no meaning.
I remember the first time I heard your voice.
“So, what are you reading?”
Normally I would not have answered. I had learned. I had learned that other humans were treacherous, that they were dangerous, that if you trusted them with anything precious to you they would break it into pieces right in front of you.
But that had been years ago, and I liked your shoes.
You still wear the same sort of bracelet, though its colors are different now. Now, when I see it, I imagine a little man walking across the top ring. Smelling your waffles. Balancing carefully above the syrup.
Because of your shoes, because of your bracelet, because of the years spent alone in the syrup, I answered you.
Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I remember.
You forced me to leave my books and to go outside. You asked me questions I did not want to answer. You were supposed to be a lifeline, a way out of the syrup. You weren’t supposed to push me down into it.
So I stayed silent. I considered just walking away. Going back to my books. To my words.
But then I saw the plants.
Plants make sense. They are green and alive and growing, and they are silent. They do not hurt me.
I could not help myself. I told you about the plants. The bushes in the park were mostly Manhattans, also known as Euonymus kiautschovicus. They would flower in midsummer, small white flowers with a green tint to them. Later they would bear fruit, round pink bulbs that carried the seeds of the next generation.
But it was spring then, and the Manhattan’s leaves were new.
You really seemed interested. You weren’t bored. You didn’t laugh. You didn’t say I was weird. I looked up from the Manhattan bush, and I saw light in your eyes.
Your light lifted me out of the syrup. Your light put me on this wire, this thin line above the waterfall, above the abyss, above the syrup.
Sometimes I get up at night, and I wonder when your light went out.
I remember the night you brought a flashlight to the park. Why did you do that?
But then you did not know. Like the leaves of the Manhattan bush, you were fresh and new. So I pushed the old dead memories out of my mind. You were not there. You could not know about the flashlight, about how she took it from me, how she broke it.
You told me your tale of zombies, lumbering beings who could not think or feel, who only wanted to eat brains.
But your zombies had standards. They would only eat brains that had been cooked to perfection in a raging fire.
I did love you, once.
I leave you asleep and I go out to stare at the waterfall. I look up at the top, where the water first slips over the edge. I imagine walking across the edge. One foot in front of the other, on a wire so thin and so black that I cannot see it in the night. I feel it under my feet, slick with the spray of the water.
You were beautiful. Your hair so blonde that it looked white in the light of the streetlamp. Your arms so thin and small, so fragile, that I could break them easily, without even trying.
Your hands are still as soft as they were then. I always made sure you had oven mitts to protect them. All these years of baking, of making your waffles, of abandoning me and letting your light go out and leaving me to the syrup.
You tasted of fire.
I imagine myself walking on the wire. The roar of the water fills my brain. I think of you, with your light that has gone out and your waffles and your brain connoisseur zombies. I lose my balance.
I loved you not.