they had so many names for each other; they didn’t use them in public, but they called out to each other in silence. he would never understand her fascination towards hindu culture, how she longed to ride a boat up the ganghes, smell the insane aroma of a people gone crazy over a collection of gods and histories and battles. but he listened and absorbed her. he was always in her mind, but she never had the courage to tell him that; always, she was happy to talk to him in furtive moments, share dumb stories with him, dream of a world full of balloons and bubbles and bird baths that smell nice. here in this crazy world, they found their nook and told stories. sometimes, the past was raised, and their histories would leave a catch in their throats, but they saved each other from too much drowning. until they had to part. that was when the story got muddled up, almost disappearing through a vicious undertow. she acted as if she was never one to scream his name in the middle of the night, but she was compelled. deeply compelled that it drove her to bite her tongue until dusk. he was never one to beg, but he did through long words and snaking paragraphs. they were like pages in a book that got switched over and over until endings stood on their ends and looked for their beginnings. it was a mirage that got caught in thistles; they wondered, separately, what went wrong, who trashed away the magic word, who rode away shouting triumphant words but with a hole in one’s chest.
choose your ending:
a) one day, they will meet on a side street, and find each other with a hole in the center of their chests. they will grope in their pockets and find unopened letters, perfumes, roses, feathers, tales, ribbons, and they will use these to fill the holes. and they will go off together, to the himalayas perhaps, to find the magic word.
b) one day, they will meet on a side street. they will gaze at each other, and the pain will be so immense they will break in half. whoever has seen people breaking in half knows this feat: the cracks will begin at the toes and will snake on arms, on necks, on cheeks, even their tears will break in half. tremors will rise in their hearts, and their sight will give halved visions of the sun, the horizon, their hands.