Days pass, turn to weeks. They write about each other, sing about each other, talk to each other in their heads. They try. It’s too much of a trial to reconnect.
One misunderstanding leads to another, builds upon the other. They miss each other, dearly or completely, it’s anybody’s guess.
A night arrives where they are lying in bed again. Lying there, talking. Sharing stories. Skirting around the evidence of the soreness they both feel. She says I love you. He mirrors her. He tells her a story about two lovers lost. They are looking for a monster with a thousand faces somewhere in the dark. All they have to guide them are a number of masks, and the masks end up becoming the monster in the end.
She tells him the same story, only backwards. There is a room at the center of the maze filled with a thousand masks. The only thing the two can talk about are the masks in the room. One mask turns quickly into the next, and they are lost inside it all, never knowing who the other is because the other’s always jumbled.
“Do I make sense?” she asks.
His heart wants to touch her, his eyes want to watch her, his ears want to listen to her voice. All these things, all at once. But he hesitates. He says
“If the abyss has no bottom, how come you feel yourself falling?”
“What do you mean?”
“If the abyss has no bottom, what are you falling towards?”
“I think,” she says, and her whole body moves. He will never understand how she does this. There simply isn’t time. “I think you feel it not because you’re falling down, but because you’re falling away. Away from up and down and right and left.”
“You make sense,” he says, lowering his head.
She whispers. Lights dim.
“Which direction are we headed?”
“I think we left direction behind a long time ago, and anyhow, there isn’t a map, so to hell with it…”
“I don’t want you to touch me.”
Who says this? Who feels this more clearly? Two people hesitate in the dark, not touching, hardly moving, wanting so much but scared that the dam that holds the moment together is about to rupture.
“I like pleasure and I dislike pain and that’s not so much a principle as the compass that I glance at while I’m walking through all that’s uncharted.”
“But you said we left direction behind.”
“That’s true, but hell and heaven…”
“You come here.”
Leave me. Let me go. Stay away. I feel you too much and never enough so never mind.
“Where are you?”
“I am now.”
“Yeah, I guess I am, too.”
“We don’t make any sense, do we…”
“Once upon a time, two strangers met. They didn’t recognize each other, so they kept on walking. They walked and they walked until they met up again. This time, they stopped. I’ve seen you before. Yeah, I’ve seen you, too. Well, nice to meet you again. Yeah, nice to meet you, too. And they went along their ways.
“Eventually they met up with each other again. They sat down, shared some lunch. So, where’re you going? Oh, I’m going that way, where are you going? I’m headed this way. Well, thanks for the apple. Yeah, thanks for the cheese. Maybe we’ll meet up again. Maybe. Good bye.
“But the strangers never saw each other, ever again. One of them made some enquiries and learned that the other had fallen off the face of the earth. What a lucky bastard! She thought. I’ve been looking for the end of the world for a very long time. Go figure! I guess I was just headed in the wrong direction! So she turned back around, and eventually…”
“I don’t know. I guess you’re right. We don’t make much sense.”
“I know, I know. Listen. Eventually, she found the end of the world, and you know what she did?”
“She looked down, into the abyss, and that’s where she saw that stranger, the one who shared some lunch with her one day. Wow, she thought. He’s been falling for a long time now, but he’s not all that far away. So she jumped in after him. And that’s when something strange happened. When she jumped off the face of the earth, she met up with the other stranger right away. Only, they weren’t strangers anymore.”
“What were they?”
“They were the letters of the alphabet.”
“Yeah. They were the letters of the alphabet and they couldn’t live without each other, only there was one problem.”
“I know what the problem was. They didn’t need each other anymore because they were each other now. And because a person is always a stranger to himself, they ended up perfect stranger’s all over again.”
“Yeah, the end, if there is such a thing.”
“Well, the face of the earth isn’t infinite. It’s gotta end somehow, somewhere. Eventually, we’re gonna fall off it.”
“The now isn’t infinite either, it’s ending all the time. Infinitely ending.”
“But we keep landing on the same spot, don’t you think? The same now, the same together. We’re always changing in the same way.”
“Speak for yourself.”
“I am, stranger. I am.”