It all started when...
A girl came into my life during the Second Recession, she brought with her two handfuls of heartache and a heavy dose of love. I insisted on examining everything equally, but instead was met with a telescope that could see only into the future. I told her a great deal could be learned by exploring the past, but she couldn't put that telescope down.
A lifetime is a long time to be unhappy. Between us, we shared sixty years of delusion and the world hasn't stopped spinning even once. Several moments were close encounters, comet fly-bys, but we just blinked as the danger raced by at 20,000 mph.
"I feel like we're doing that," I said.
"What?" she asked. I blinked and stared down at her hands, then up at the sky.
An average tree can suck several hundred gallons of water in through its roots each day. The root system then delivers this water up through the trunk via the sapwood, and out to all of its branches and leaves.
If you stood next to it the entire time you'd never know anything was even taking place.
Trees are mysteriously quiet like that.
Birds find refuge in their canopies, as do other forms of animals and insects. A tree feeds off life, life feeds off trees. Trees give off life. It's a pretty amazing sequence that often goes unnoticed, and it was decided long ago that trees would be here for a very long time. Fires remove them, they grow right back. Humans remove them, they grow right back.
We were holding hands while walking along a dirt path through the forest when she stopped and said, "I know we've only been together six months, but I love you, and you say you love me. I don't understand why we just don't move in together."
I could hear a bird somewhere off behind me, singing a song that sounded a lot like laughter. The sun pierced through the branches illuminating my body in sections. Suddenly, I could feel water being sucked up through my feet, gallons upon gallons of icy cold water rushing up my legs and out through the rest of my body.
Brain freeze. Stop.
I felt the pressure building inside my mouth, the water searching for an escape. I felt like I was drowning. This must be what water boarding is all about.
I glanced up at the nearest tree to us and said, "I think our relationship is a lot like a tree."
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"Never mind," I replied as I squeezed her hand and started whistling while we walked on mysteriously quiet.
Sometimes she would snoop. Trust was a coin that got flipped early in our relationship: she guessed heads, it landed tails. Ever since then, I was under the impression a snake had been slipped inside my pillowcase. I could hear the long, steady warning rattle of an apprehensive tail shaking faintly while I slept at night.
I was put on defense before the ball was ever hiked.
One time my brother texted me a sequence of dirty pictures. The first pic showed a beautiful blonde sitting on a counter top with her legs spread open wide. She was completely naked, smiling at the camera. Second pic: camera moves in closer, a tight shot of her shaved pussy and a finger touching her asshole. Third pic: finger is inserted all the way in asshole, a slimy grey squirmy thing appears in her pussy. Fourth pic: camera even closer, the slimy grey squirmy thing reveals itself to be an eel backing its way out of her vagina. Fifth and final pic: pan out, girl still fingering her asshole, smiling, eel is writhing on the tiled floor beneath her feet.
"Why do you always do that?" she asked me.
"Do what?" I replied as I flipped shut my cell phone.
"Every time you get a text message you always angle your phone in such a way that I can't see it. You're hiding something and it makes me nervous. What don't you want me to see?"
I looked back down at my phone as it vibrated in my hand and the light on the side flashed green to let me know I had another incoming message. It felt just like a rattlesnake tail against my skin, and the burn of the bite would surely follow.
Goddamn technology. It can't be trusted.
When I was little I met the monster that lurks in a child's imagination. We met face to face. He was handsome and well suited, smelled of chlorine and drove a brown Saab that needed push-started half the time. The wind became heavy, the air thick and harder to breathe.
Everyone thinks blue is the color God gave to the sky. Everyone thinks the clouds take shape of fun-loving creatures. It's all a charade.
My heart is wiggling on the linoleum like an eel. People suck the souls out of other people like thirsty trees. Comets rock a fragile world at an early age.
Devastation. Unfixable bullshit. Hands held together with tears. These were the things I showed her. This is everyone's past. She gave me love, I gave her sorrow. Her legs were strong and continued walking, deeper and deeper into the wild. Step by step, she disappeared into the forest of my mind.
"Here, this is for you. I want you to have it, you need it more than I do," were her last words to me as she handed me her telescope. I took it and held it in my hands, examined it for flaws.
It was perfect in every way.