WE STROLLED through the park,
slow and leisurely as fish drifting
through their watery clime. Our hands and mouths were stained with
the suggestive juice of raspberries, picked near the old stone wall
demarcating the park's entrance. Laughing, showing red-stained
teeth, we floated down the dusty path, kicking at leaves and
wishing on dandelions. We stepped on each others' shoes, bumped
hips, touched each other's hair as high treetops fidgeted above us
in the breeze. Silhouetted ahead of us, a clocktower balanced the
marbled sky on its weathervane like a china plate on a wooden pole.
The wind picked up for a moment, flinging grit against us and causing
her momentarily to hide her face in my thin sweater. I held her
against me a moment, kissed her soft, warm scalp, and allowed her to
pull away as the air calmed again. She rubbed her eyes and smiled at me.
Even after a year, my heart still leaped into my mouth when she smiled.
So many smiles, so many little deaths I should be cold in the
ground by now. I reflected that Fortune's beam upon me, in sending me
my seraph and keeping me bound to her, could be seen, radiant and
tenfold more beautiful, in her mouth, the pupils of her eyes. Why I
had been given this goddess, this caryatid keeping my insides from
collapsing, I did not know; but I appreciated the gesture and proved
it by pledging my heart to her. A wise move, and insured
should she ever leave me, she would take my heart with her, and I then
would be able to die with no pain. I do still need my heart to survive;
its possessor keeps me alive by proxy.
My beautiful angel's eyes grew wide as I looked at her, just musing; I
realized I was scaring her and awoke from my reverie. A quick grin and
a hug reassured her and we continued walking, the wind still murmuring
and tossing about us like a nightmare-seized sleeping child. Happy, we
wandered for a few minutes, talking to birds, telling each other stories.
Distant points became hazy and indistinct; the sky was growing darker,
the air chillier. I quietly said something to her about getting home soon.
We looked around us and found ourselves significantly further along the
path than we had thought; we had been so involved in each other and the
beauty of the park that we had lost track of time and distance. Getting
home would take awhile. I turned around and began to retrace our steps,
walking more quickly. She hurried after me, laughing, telling me to relax
and not worry so much about time. Time isn't real, she opined, only love
is real, and we had forever, so why was I rushing?
I stopped, pondered for a moment as she giggled at me, and decided she was
right. I turned to her, laughed also, and opened my mouth to remark on
her indomitable skills of persuasion. Suddenly the sky broke open and
dense rain poured down. We shrieked, stared at the sky in disbelief, and
I started running down the path through mud puddles already forming. She
gave chase, crying that a little water wasn't going to harm anything. I
replied that this was a lot of water and it had already set to harming
her velvet shirt. Both of us already were soaked to the bone. She
glanced down at her clothes, now even more bodytight than before from the
wet, then threw back her head and shouted with laughter. Certainly a
woman who enjoys life.
I always had admired her complete lack of care for material things, but I
had bought her that shirt. Then again, she had put it to good use; she
was lovely in it, even ruined as it was now. The shirt knew her every
holy curve and knew the trailing sham of my bed as well. The delight of
my soul ran her hands over the vanquished velvet, raindrops taking fatal
dives onto her hands as her fingers ran over her sides, under her breasts.
I blinked, all worldly care gone, just watching. Her fingertips followed
the ways mine had taken many a time as they rode her ribcage and stroked
her clavicle. I was enchanted. Her quiet laughter caught in her hair
and wafted to me between the cold drops. The entire Zodiac sweated upon
us, wanting her, but she was mine. I took a few steps toward her and
noticed she was steaming.
Steaming. Did my eyes deceive me? I wiped water from my face and looked
again. My eyes were as sharp as ever: a pale vapor rose from my love's
arms, back, and hair. She seemed to be a glowing Pele, her aura's lava
hissing in the atmospheric sea. My angel, burning hot as a demon, innocent
demon-lover, the volcano deity resisting attempts to extinguish her eternal
inner fire. I stood in a pool which crept higher about my shoes by the
second. She started suddenly, raised her gaze to me, lips parting to see
me regarding her in amazed silence. What was wrong? I paused a moment
before telling her nothing was wrong, no, this was beauty, and
beauty is never wrong. She was steaming, steaming, I told her, a misty
mountain unto herself. I lifted my hands and indicated the cloud over
She turned, face to the rain, looking at the steam coming off her and
the haze it caused, hanging over her, a wraithlike halo. Her face was
lit up with wonder and a bit of fear. The steam thickened; she was a
sauna, a purifying bath, a magic trick. Bubbles and chanting and fire
and delirium and deep breaths. I ran the few remaining steps to her,
caught her up, wheeled around with her, the mist swirling about us.
She gave off heat almost visibly, like a sun, a star in my arms. The
sounds of our awed delight echoed through the enveloping cloud and I
kissed her. She was every hot drink in winter, every meal kept warm
in the oven for a child come home late, every, everything. And we
were together, and we were one, and we, unlike the fickle sun, would
never fade. Night and day, rain and shine were the same, for she was
right: only love is real, only we in our searing touch of perfection.
Encased within our safe, hot cloud, we tumbled down the path like a
rolling stone on fire to whatever home awaited us.