You’re always spinning away from me, Micah says, but you do it in such playful, dance-like movements it takes me a while to even realize that you’re leaving. Then others come and I forget, then you return and I remember.
I smile at Micah, because he is still as much of a child to think physical absence signals the end of such an ethereal notion as love. If I choose to leave for good, you’ll know, I assure him as a mother would. He isn’t mollified by my halfhearted reply.
Then I tell him about the immutability paradox of love, or whatever it is that passes between us in the two hours in which he is not staying and I am not going, when we are as close as possible to fit into the category of together, for two people so different.
Why is it so, how, when did you uncover this great secret? What do you mean by immutability?
Doe-eyed and agitated, my apprentice looks to me for explanations, answers which were awarded me in form of either sudden, mystical revelations, or else settled onto the surface of my brain without any direct involvement on my part: the sediment of bad decisions and their consequences turned into a rock-hard conclusion.
Let’s put it this way. The only consistency you can hope for is achieved through change, and this you can count on. Old hearts rust when submerged. Crack, seep through. It’s better to find new ones every once in a while, not to lose too much of yourself in the process. Not that you can lose anything, mind you, only it’s much easier to keep track of matter if it’s not so dispersed. That’s why I dance.
A new torrent of questions quickly spurts from his sore lips.
When you decant love from one vessel to another, how careful do you have to be not to spill a drop? How do you measure the volume of the next heart beforehand? What if it overflows, or worse yet – what if you pour everything inside and realize it’s not enough? How do you gauge the percentages, the density, the speed, the rhythm, the variables of the transition?
As he’s talking, I focus on the cracked indents in the skin around his mouth and wonder if it hurts to ask this much, and if it does, whether the sting is really worth it. Maybe if I kiss him again, he’ll shut up. I don’t, though. I was Micah once, the curious child prodigy, kissed to perpetuate a silence that was comfortable, but misleading. Left to teach myself this art through trial and error. I don’t particularly believe I am the wiser for having done so.
He’s looking at me as if I’m the second coming. Most of all, he wants me to say he won’t ever have to play the guessing game, that I’m here and I won’t dance away.
This is what I fear the most, he tells me. Miscalculating how much of myself to give away. Teach me how to love safely.
You don’t need to be afraid, kid. There’s no risk of getting a wrong result to the equation. No one ever profits in the end, only the currency might be different – love, like, fancy, appreciation, all in adequate proportion. When you count the nickles and dimes, add and subtract, then divide – it is much the same as it was at the start. It’s no complicated algorithm, no problem that needs solving. The tentative balance will always be kept. What you’ve let yourself lose in me now, you’ll find in others when the time comes – and so on, you’ll dance through this perpetual exchange between hearts and skins to the song of your choosing.
Is this all, Micah asks in bewilderment. There are no guidelines?
Nothing but the beat, I shout twirling around the axis of our mutual space and spiraling outwards.
Recruited into my order of vagrants, yet safe in the assurance that nothing need ever be lost for good, Micah follows in his own pace, testing the limits of what the hurricane of twelve billion flailing feet has to offer.
Sometimes, we meet in the eye of the storm where melodies can’t penetrate the cocoon of strangers’ lives around us. Then we take hold of each others’ hands and, to my great surprise, waltz for a while to no music at all.