I probably never will.
I watched her every day and every night of every year that she lived in the old dwelling, and not once did she ever show any sign of wanting to leave. I felt so bad for the place, it was going to be so lonely without her. She was its companion.
And I was hers.
She never truly knew it, of course, as I kept my distance from her warm smile, an anonymous companion throughout the years. And in all that time, I never learned her name or where it was she had come from. Somewhere out there, I presumed, and I was very glad to have her here to break the loneliness, so it really didnít matter what she was called.
I called her: Love.
I had heard the thunder crack, saw the bright light, felt the passing warmth as the silver thing she rode in fell hard from the violet sky to smash into the sea. I could feel the life of the thing dying, pulsing its last breaths into the deep waters until it finally ceased being.
Then she came.
Out and onto one of the land masses she dragged herself, a sack of things on her back, pulling off the white, hard shell to expose her beautiful head, working herself out of her white, outer skin.
Such beauty like I have never seen.
She was as graceful as any filmy air floater, as lovely as any sunrise; her yellow-sun hair hung about her shoulders and her eyes were as crystal blue as the sea waters in which she swam. The waters where I looked up at her for the first time and sighed and fell in love.
If only she could have seen more clearly, she might have seen me.
I had spent my entire life here, swimming these waters, yet never finding anything in which to spend all that long and dreadful time with. Nothing suited to my mind, anyway, and certainly nothing as beautiful....
In the beginning, I would love to wash up to shore with the waves to gaze at her, watching the large spinning galaxy of light points rise above the ocean horizon as night would quickly fall. Her eyes would glisten with the many lights of the dark sky, and of the galaxy, and she would simply sit there and stare at it, almost in wonder, almost in longing. Then she would get up and walk into the small dwelling she had built with pieces of her dead shiny thing sitting at the bottom of the sea, and rest until morning.
And it would certainly be a long night, waiting....
She spent most of the morning gathering plants she could eat, or fishing out the creatures which lived close to shore. Other times she spent sitting by a box, listening for something, anxiously.
On many lazy afternoons, I was brave enough stretch out my mind to be the tree she sat under or the leaves that played around her feet, touching and running away. I was even in the wind, at times, wrapping my many arms around her and caressing her every curve.
Sometimes I would reach out, stretch my mind to the very edges of her thoughts, pick up traces of her feelings, her wants, her loneliness. And some days these thoughts were more bitter than others.
She has spent most of her time in the dwelling, sitting by the window or in the small doorway, just watching the sky. I didnít mind sharing her with the place, as it let me wander through floors and aching, shiny walls, or the plants or wind she would walk off into, as I would be right there, in an air floater or gazing out at her through the single great eye of a glow-flower. Every night I would whisper my love to her through the open window of her dwelling, softly. She never heard me. Every day I would play about her feet, or hold her in the wind. She never saw me.
For many years we had been happy together. We walked together, swam together, spent every hour of every day and night together and it really didnít matter that she could not see or hear me. The company was all that I craved.
After some time, the loneliness returned to cool my warm days and nights; to rip a dark hole between us that grew larger with each passing of the great spiralling galaxy. Having her there was not enough. I needed more. I wanted her to know I was with her, and that I loved her. I wanted to talk with her, smile with her, laugh with her, sing with her.
In my desperation I shook the trees, tugged at her feet through the leaves, grabbed at her in the wind. I jumped on the dwelling, rattled the shiny walls, yelled at her through the open window.
All day. All night.
And, finally, I dared to foam and splatter my way out of the water, up the beachhead.
She didnít come out.
In my frustration, I ran back to the isolation of the cool sea waters. There I stayed for many days, bathing my hurt in the chilly depths.
When I finally returned some time later she was gone. The land before the sea was empty, as it had been for many passings of the sun before. It was alone. I was alone. Again.
For many days afterwards I would look through the eye of a glow flower, visit the tree where she often laid her perfect form, ran with the leaves through the land, blew through the wind, but she was not there.
She never did.
I only wander as far as the shore now, and then I turn around and head back out into the cool, deep sea waters to bury myself in the thick, muddy bottom. Alone.
The many years Love and I spent together seemed like a brief moment, but they were the happiest years I can remember.
I never knew her name.
I probably never will.
Carl Rafala has taught English at Quinnipiac College, earned his MA in English from the University of South Africa, and has traveled extensively around the world.
His collection of short science fiction stories, "Wildflower," which has received warm reviews in New England, is currently available. He is presently working on a novel.
Other stories by Carl:
Published by permission of the author.