A path guided her into a sanctuary of lake and forest. After miles of walking, she sat down. The bench absorbed the skin on her exposed back as it melted onto the white wood. Swans with their regal necks bore into the water, cracking its surface that hurled wet chips like a cannon; but then, their volume liquefying, sprites bursting out from their dense center, they dispersed into drops. Watching this virtual fountain eject tiny disparate streams made one think of dancers in tight formation about to spread apart, but they did so in a uniform way, each body moving in rhythm with the other.
Her hands were sunk into the dancing depth, the dispersing thickness, and as the five fingers reemerged out of the pool like toy soldiers standing tall in salute, specks of earth populated her skin like bugs. But bugs
they weren't. Time became a feverish embrace. She thought of the dishes piled up in the sink -- their clanging resonated in her eardrums, or was it the birds chirping?
They should have met here after first stopping by the grocery store to stock up for their picnic. A grand meal in the park was to be the offering. And yet his face could not be remembered. Trying to remember his eyes only made visible the keys dangling out of his pocket and jangling melodiously. The question to be asked was why there was an unrequited smile when their eyes met. Why this empathic "I miss you" spoken by his sweet grating voice that would melt the heart?
But no, hearts couldn't melt. The smiles, the I love you's, the bear hugs, all had the rhythm of necessity, of a procession of ants that were emerging out of the tiny cavity near her shoe - evenly spaced out and lined up in a row one after the other, all identical. She grasped her chin
and pulled at it until the head was turned down to see the ground and the ants
. When their eyes couldn’t meet, what would happen to the I love you's?
If the pressure on her chin was too intense and awakened sensations of gravity that dragged her down to the bowels of the earth, would there still be a smile? A rock took flight from her palm, alighting and making a bloody gnash in the water. The froth on the lake hissed and shivered. The picnic could be canceled. Making her bad mood the scapegoat wouldn’t be a problem. But horror of horrors, his understanding would prevail over her sentiment. There would be hugs and I love you's issued from lips backed by unshakeable smiles, lips laughing at her capriciousness. But would she smile back?