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In the early July afternoon they sat in the verdant hill overlooking the placid Swiss town below. All the buildings were made of white adobe and shone lovely under the sun. The campanile struck two o'clock as doves flew from inside the woods behind them, towards the town's great square.
Both pairs of eyes watched the doves land eagerly by the benches along the tall green hedgerows that encompassed the wide, hexagon-tiled square. Pensive elders fed them warm pieces of zopf from the local bakery. The younger doves played with the spirited children, for it was Sunday. Sleepy lovers cuddled under the shades of trees along the hedgerows, and those that were doves ruminated atop clean black statues, the euphonious melody of water a tranquilizing lullaby to their swaying hearts. Together, they daydreamed in the fountain.
The two escapists sitting in the green hill observed the square amid their silent intimacy, until they heard the woods whisper.
Then, their silence hushed.
The man whirled around and anxiously looked at the silky, pitch-black eyes of the deer in the woods. The young girl continued to look at the town below, besotted by the doves.
“Why must they always watch us?” the man asked, still staring nervously at the deer.
The young girl's enigmatic gaze slowly turned to him. She seemed annoyed to have been driven away from focus.
“They're curious, that's all. You were fine with doves. Don't mind them.” She spoke quietly.
“I don't eat dove,” he replied uneasily.
Abandoning her aloof demeanor, she laughed sincerely.
“I assure you, they forgive you.”
“Oh, they told you?”
She nodded. She turned and offered her hand to them. Slowly, their great bronze bodies emerged from the trees. An eager fawn leaned forward and licked her palm. The fawn's face bolted in surprise, her wide eyes blinking wildly and her pointy ears springing upward, releasing a small cloud of shining stardust from atop her head. Then they all sat and watched the town with them. Convinced of their safety, arrived the badgers, weasels, squirrels, and hares, who brought berries of all sorts , sharing and all eating them amongst themselves, surrounding the pair in the center.
The man accepted the red strawberry the badger offered him. Its sweet juices tasted of nature. He stroked the hare's head sympathetically. The hare, pleased, gave him another strawberry. Below, the elders still fed bread to the white doves. The man lied down on the kind, green grass and witnessed the thin white rings of light emitted by the radiant, yellow sun.
Great white clouds obscured the sun. Under its shadow, he became dreamy, admiring the clouds' pacific floating.
“Wish I could sit on a cloud,” he said. “And just float away.”
“You'd fall. Like rain.” Her voice was dreamy.
“A snowflake. I could be aesthetic. I could be perfect. I could be you.”
“Am I?” She smiled at him. The gentle breeze caused her hair to brush against her face, and her eyes seemed distant, and she looked ever so beautiful. “I'm not so sure,” she admitted. She cast a most nebulous wisdom into the air.
She laid down next to him, their heads just touching. Nearly asleep, they felt as though they were listening to each others' thoughts. In their intimate silence, they felt very real to one another.
“I'm not so sure,” she repeated. Her voice was very solemn now.
He did not know if he could ask questions. He hesitated.
“Do you miss it?” he asked.
A young weasel was sniffing her neck, and he cuddled there as she stroke his tiny back. He wondered if she had heard him, if he should repeat the question. He hesitated again.
“I'm starting not to know anymore,” she said. A white hare offered her a radiant, rose raspberry. The juice became liquid gold in her mouth. The hare's head tilted in confusion.
“I remember it was good, that's all.” Her voice was still solemn. It seemed she was being very careful with her words. “I really enjoyed it I think.”
Her words were pallid to him.
“You were quite happy.”
“I miss you singing softly to me, and watching you paint.”
She said nothing.
“I miss you.”
She was taciturn and indeed very pallid. They listened to the wind hum awhile. A silver tear trickled down her left eye in quiet melancholy. The conciliatory, alacritous hare quickly pressed his warm paw on her cheek, stopping its flow. The hare's feet left the ground. He fluctuated in the air a short while, confounded, frenetically reaching for ground. A light blue blanketed his body. His brethren bolted up, as did their pointy ears, and watched their sibling land gently once more. The light was gone. A squirrel giggled. The hare poked her with his dusty finger, and she struggled just as comically, glowing violet. The rodents all laughed together.
The girl stopped crying. The man's eyes were fixated on the blue sky.
“I'm slipping away,” she whispered.
“You have me tight.”
He'd feared these words, but he would no longer accost them. He couldn't.
“Have you forgotten everything?” he asked. He was no longer hesitating.
Her hand looked for his and found it. She clung it tight. The hare fluctuated in the air once more, and landed softly. The white doves from the square below returned and nested themselves comfortably with the rest of the animals.
“How was your day?” he asked her.
She rested her head on his shoulder. “It was okay. I liked it.”
He smiled. “How come?”
“I'm talking to you,” she whispered.
The wind and trees hummed silently. The animals were taciturn. They listened.
“A year and a half is all I knew you. We were fifteen then.”
“Berkeley. California. Of all the places in all the world, a STEM program for minorities. STEM was then the ideal pathway for success for the middle-class, us. We met on an obvious route and didn't expect much from each other.
“We didn't speak to each other much then, but enjoyed ourselves a short while. I saw a very happy girl with a wonderful talent and exciting life. I imagined you as such when my life went back to normal, in those six months we did not speak, and I didn't expect us to. There was a fifteen mile distance between us two. Your life sounded so very fascinating. I saw mine as abject and fraught with melancholy, for my adverse environs had rendered them so. I thought I had done you a favor in letting you get away from me. I thought perhaps you might even be afraid of me.
“Six months later you messaged me on Facebook. I seldom used it, yet the one time I did you were swift to catch me. A parenthesis and a colon; a computerized smile. I remember staring at it, not knowing what to do. It was more intuition than anything else that led me to respond 'Hi'.”
“I'm glad you did.”
“Indeed, we'd refer back to this notion many times when, once we became close friends, we thought about what could have been.
“We found we had a lot to say, and though it were mostly materialistic things at first, you quickly discovered who I was through writing. Every little thing you said, I tried to find truth in. I found that by writing to you daily I could easily bestow you my philosophies in order that you may apprehend your persona more lucidly. I'd never encountered anyone who praised me so benevolently and enthusiastically for my writing prowess. I never called you pretty then, for I admit I'd forgotten your countenance and based all my descriptions on what I read and interpreted from your words.
“You showed me your divine paintings. You wrote to me about art and the bliss in making the stranger's life more content by endowing them with an aesthetic gift constructed by the grand exercise of the imagination. I could see quite clearly in your works, the meteoric beauty of your truest character.
“The more personal our conversations got, the more I realized that you were not just an abstract idea I was attempting to comprehend. I'd never thought a person was so very real, even if you were writing to me. Back then, my heart was hidden in a tight, black silk. Yet with you it unwrapped and was laid before you so elegantly, so that you could see the mysterious forces of my anatomy. You understood more than anyone who I truthfully am.
“You too helped me realize who I was, and helped me embrace the artist in me. I even began to write a very complex novel and felt ever so hopeful in life.
“I don't know what we didn't write to each other about. Often one of us would first ask the other 'How was your day?' and from there we'd discuss dreams, virtues, understanding, beauty, and how we felt about our lives, and what we should do with them. I remember us swearing to one day becoming tree house neighbors in Brazil.
“We caught ourselves amid a boisterous world that was frantically trying to save itself. The world then was blatant with technology, the sciences, and arithmetic. Yet we could no longer deny we were two lost artists, trapped by the raucous, cacophonous voices of the early twenty-first century.
“But we were very optimistic. We thought, if two adolescents could discern the true essence of the imagination, then there was hope for humanity.
“We often wrote of hope.
“You confessed to me, at some point, that in our first summer together, you had shyly perceived a glint in me, and that it would be half a year before you'd choose to listen to its light, afraid as it was of burning itself. Now we were both shining quite brightly, and we'd finally get to be with each other, for an entire month, after half a year of writing to each other, and endless nights of enlightenment and bliss.
“This made us both ecstatic and nervous, and this we confessed to each other, for by then confessions were a minimal effort, our trust having flourished long before. We were such adolescents, and it would certainly seem, at first, that we were capable of speaking only materialistically, and that Facebook had simply given us a vicarious segue that could not be experienced in person.
“But recalling our conversations and the poignant emotions stemmed by them, I adamantly refused to believe their false intrinsic value. I was demonstrative with you, speaking freely to you the innermost chambers of my heart.
“And you were seldom afraid. You spoke to me of those same wonderful things I'd heard many times before, and you spoke them so easily, so fluently, that I became convinced what you were saying was indeed a part of who you are.
“To have read your words over and over had given me hope. But to hear your voice and have it speak those words out loud granted me freedom.
“From then on we'd talk in each others' dorms quite often. In midday, you'd curl under my warm blanket and I'd sit on it, against the wall, and we'd talk thus, the summer breeze blowing gently through the open window that faced the downward road. The sound of leaves always welcomed us. We'd have the same intimate conversations at night as well. The rest of the world was cavorting and ebullient, though to what extent their hearts were truly happy we knew not.
“But we knew we were, and we could always go to each other to drive away that prevailing solitude that, for us, could only be abolished by truth.
“That summer, knowing that our friendship was indeed real, with all its similar notions, dreams and aspirations, became the best discovery of my life, and we became best friends. What had primarily appeared to be commonplace, surreal, literary optimisms, metamorphosed into a reality, and it was very beautiful.
“ Then came the intermission. The intermission in which I took to the other end of the country. It was an intermission we had foreseen, but never did we imagine we'd meet its arrival with such bittersweet sorrow. One week was an eternity for us, and even before I left, we spoke of our last week together.
“But upon returning, we discovered an odd distance between us, and we never returned to where we'd left off. Perhaps we were afraid to understand the ambiguous love in our relationship knowing that, as it was our last week, the truth could hurt us. My absence had shut our hearts from each other and taken that last golden week from us. All the juxtapositions and building we'd worked for the previous three weeks had fallen.
“On that last day, I hugged you goodbye and left home. And though you were in my arms, I felt as if there were once more, a fifteen mile distance between us. As I left your room I heard you cry from the outside, and I did not respond to it. I left home.
“It was the last time I touched you, heard you, saw you.
“Shortly after the summer ended, an unfortunate calamity took place. One that would separate us forever.”
He began to cry uncontrollably, his arms trembling furiously around her.
“A while afterwords, after time had aided my coalescence, I would discover a final attempt at communication and mutual recovery I had foolishly failed to notice; a parenthesis and a colon, a computerized smile. I failed to reply to your voice and all my life I've been yelling ceaselessly, hoping you'd listen, and perhaps respond.
“You don't know how much I miss you.”
She stared distantly towards the sky. He thought he saw a glint in her eyes, a very human glint. His tears planted the lovely white glow on her hair. A young hare held his hand and licked its backside affectionately. He breathed in deeply.
“But you meant ever so much to me,” he resumed, “I found a way to bring you back.
“I wrote of you. In many shapes and many forms, I wrote of you. So that I could keep you alive, I turned to the grand kingdom of my imagination. There, I brought you back to life and I took you many wonderful places.”
He finished, and a sweet silence followed, where the doves sung quietly. He rested his cheek against her shining head and then he kissed it. That same feeling of interconnectedness stemmed by the circular sun rays aroused within him once more.
“You've a lovely halo,” he said in a hushed voice.
She laid quiet and aloof. And though she were next to him, so too was the unfathomable distance of the cosmos between them.
“Everything was for you, by you,” he whispered softly to her, so that the animals could not discern their words. “The entire literary movement of this century was your gracious heart and its golden voice.”
“Sh-sh,” she said so quietly he could barely hear her. She put her finger softly on his lips.
“The reader might hear you,” she whispered.
“Let them,” he responded.
The hares fed them berries and the deer slept beside them. The sweet, dreamy aroma of the chocolate factory down below had reached them. A gentle summer rain sprinkled on Switzerland, casting a beautiful, iridescent sky above them.
And they were ever so content and peaceful.
She whispered a secret to him, ever so softly I could not hear it.
In response, he kissed her.
“Cast me away.”
The campanile struck three and the doves took for the sky, and the man sleepily watched their ascension. He stood, and found that all the animals had returned to the woods. He witnessed the fleeting truth, the doves' clandestine flight, their lovely silhouettes under the great sun, like beautiful, obscure angels with faraway secrets disappearing into a marvelous, radiant, rose void, showered with golden sunlight.
And still, the summer rain gently poured on him, and that magnificent aroma was still there. He breathed in and oh how good it felt to do so. He stood up smiling and made his way back to the square.