The winds were wild today. They got inside me, whispering songs of darkness and undergrowth, thorny branches scraping starry skies.
Like a fool, I thought of you, and wondered if you remembered me too.
We were young together; wild within ourselves. We ran through the night like silent shadows and sought out the dark places where only the spirits lived. We ran to the tops of hills and sat on stony peaks and stared out at the city stretched out beneath us.
You always had something silly to say. Something about the trees, talking. I loved it when you were silly.
I don’t remember anymore what made you stop. If it was me; if it was the spirits; if something got into your body and scared you. But one day you sat down and you told me, “I’m too tired to run tonight.”
I said, “Okay,” and sat down with you. I thought, tiredness passes. And instead of running in the moonlight, we talked. You spoke a lot about your father. Your old boyfriend. Your current girlfriend. Our friendship, and our love. You told me your pain, and I told you mine, and above us the skies stretched from dusk into dawn, and back to dusk again. Something cold was coiling its way around my stomach; the groping fear that wild things feel when they sit in plain sight for too long.
“You should get up,” I said. Then: “Please. Get up.”
You didn’t move. “I’m tired,” you said, again.
I jumped up then. I did not like this creeping tiredness, that had made you more tired while you rested. “You have to get up,” I said, and started pacing in circles around you. I got angry. I got scared. The skies turned again. The dawn brought dew. You didn’t even move to shake it off.
I said, “We have to go,” and I bit you. Ah – that made you move! You hit me right back, and then you said, “If going is so important to you, you should go! But I am tired, and I am going to stay here.”
And I didn’t understand. But I still did not like this creeping tired. I did not want to stay close to it. So you curled up and went to sleep, and I walked through the undergrowth and mud, and found my way to the top of the hills and sat on the stony peaks and listened to the trees sing by myself.
They could not explain it either. So I still didn’t understand.
Someone found you; I suppose that was for the best. They put you in a box, next to all the vampire bats and crocodiles, and made you warm and dry. That is what you looked like when I found you. Warm, and dry, and safe. Of the two of us I thought I’d look the worst for wear, with all my scars and my new limp; but I was wrong. Your hair was too short; your claws were gone. And even though your eyes were open, on the inside, they looked fast asleep.
I took a seat while the vampire bats were snoring, and I told you what the moon had been doing, and where the seasons were. It seemed like it was hard to know, from inside your box. And then I said, “I’m sorry I bit you. I knew they would find you, though. If you lay down long enough. I was scared for you.”
And you said to me, “We’re just different, you and me. My pain was too heavy. I needed their help to carry it.”
I was hurt at first. Was that not what I had been doing, all those years ago? But I remembered what you looked like in the grass, running fearless in the hillocks; and I knew then too that there was no way to make you remember that all things get lighter, with momentum. You didn’t even remember what momentum felt like.
“I’ll come back another night,” I said. “I’ll tell you again what the moon is doing, and where the seasons are, and what the winds are whispering.”
I thought I saw your body shiver, as though it wanted to move again and come with me. But then there was only silence and stillness, so I left.
The wind is stirring, and like a fool, I think of you, but not enough to keep my promise. Not yet, not now, maybe never. I don’t think you notice the time that passes. It’s not as though you can see the sky change, from inside your box; but I always have a sunrise to chase, and long nights to run through.
Please enjoy your box. Please be happy inside it. This is the best thing I know how to wish for you. And don’t worry about me – you don’t have to wish anything for me. Everything I wanted, I have: Thorn-scraped skies and stony peaks; running, tumbling, headlong through the mossy undergrowth, and all the dark places, where only the spirits go.