It is work to start reading a novel. To pick up a half-inch of paper, hand sized, knowing we have to be introduced to the characters one by one. Knowing that the inherent peace in our ennui is about to be disturbed by an artificial stress. We want to think of the author as a friend because we're going to allow him to worry us about unreal things. We trust that in his hands, by the time we have riffled through the paper stack, our calm will be restored and we'll be returned to our peace, happier.
If an author preaches, we do not trust him to lift us out of the mental conflict. If the author is awkward in his description, if we cannot fathom his analogies, we put the novel aside after several chapters, the story forever lost in a confusing medium only the brave may decode.
It is work to start writing a novel, to propose to pull someone into your dream world. One must become transparent to the imagination. One must simultaneously be owned by it and control it. It has to have its own physics, so events once started roll consistently to conclusion. It must surprise, even though one knows the history of the dust bunnies under the beds, it is a mystery whether a lover scorned will commit murder or suicide.
He invites others to join an adventure of his mind. And so unlike the tyranny of dreams that haunts the sleeper alone, a writer must structure the flow of time for others to consume. It is not acceptable to look up from writing and wonder what was meant. There is a course. And the writer must know it.
Except when I look into your eyes.
"I dreamt about you again last night," I said. Do you remember?
You smiled. You looked at your hands on the table. You made a sound like a cough that was a laugh.
I felt you say, "Your eyes are so blue."
I told you that we were swimming in the ocean. When you got out your dark wet hair fell in rows like shadows across your skin.
And then we were on an escalator in a department store in a shopping mall looking for a wedding gift for ourselves.
You said, "I dreamt about you, too. You were a great bird that blotted out the sun. Landed in front of me and froze me with your gaze until I realized that I, too, had wings."
I said, "But we didn't make it. You didn't live to see the wedding. I was there alone."
You said, "We flew so far I forgot who we were and we became light and space."
I said, "Your eyes are so blue."
You kissed me while I was thinking it was just a touch. Just a feeling of warmth. I told you how I would film it, if we were to show it to others. Slipped the thin red strap of your dress over your shoulder while you moved in again, touching lips against mine, the flash of your tongue over the ridge of my teeth.
You said, "I can't get close enough to you to satisfy how I feel." Thighs touch. My forarms against your sides.
I said, "This can't be happening. It feels like a dream."
You said, "I'm dreaming about you. And in my dream you're a great bird that blots out the sun, and then landing before me, makes me realize I have wings. We fly until we disappear into ourselves."
Then you closed your eyes, pursed your lips and bade me deeper. Downward, I kissed your breath. Heard your hand reach out. You stood on the porch of a solitary victorian mansion that dared impose itself on a pristine beach. I was gathering driftwood for the fire when you stopped me.
"Come. With me," you said. "Inside where it's warm."
This is what people do. This is why you can't start the story of our lives with, "Once upon a time," or, "There was a girl."
I said, "We have whole lives that are like novels and we can't bear to start at the beginning."
"You're a writer. Figure it out."
But I am trapped between my words and something infinite.
I still feel us together. Because it wasn't the movement. It wasn't the warmth or the touch. The inherent triviality of "I Love You."
Forgive the words I am forced to use.
I'm in love with the idea of you that would live even if we didn't. Even if there was no flesh.
Even if there were no words.