Once upon a time

by Sje

Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl more than anyone could love anything, but she didn’t know what love was. She didn’t understand when he said, “Anything,” and cut off his hair because she was cold. Then one day, the boy grew sad. He knew she could not love him the way he loved her. She told him that she loved him, but her words were so light they floated away as soon as she spoke them, like dandelion dust, as if they had never been said.

He is happy, and she is sad. He is easy, and she is hard. He will always have enough. She will always think about dying, even when life is finally and sweetly good.

He only loved her more, until one day the girl said goodbye. Maybe it wasn’t her. Maybe it was the Someone Else inside of her who wasn’t afraid to be alone on the loneliest planet in the universe.

Now the girl cries when she can because she knows she will never have another boy to love her like he did. She is scared to sleep at night. She sleeps with the lights on, but the shadows come in anyway and make horrible shapes on the walls, and she is afraid to see the owl, which is really not an owl at all.

Sometimes she reaches out her arms to touch him. But he isn’t there. He could be warm in another’s or content with his own. She doesn’t know, because they do not know things like that about each other anymore.

The saddest thing of all.

She is afraid that one day he will wake up and forget her name. One day she will see him, and he will not care. She is afraid of the hours, days, months and years that she will miss him, like a hand misses a hand. She is afraid that she needs him, like people need their gods, like her father needs the sea.

Without him, she will forget to breathe.