I can't hear the rushing water.
But I love Alex.
I can say it to you, but you can't see it. It's something like heat from a flame. It gets from bright to you and you know it's there, but in between the fire and you is nothing.
Alex feels it. It goes from me to her through the air as if it's nothing. And then it comes out inside her.
Alex says she feels the claws--do I feel my fingers if I don't think about it?
She says the horizon is low and wide, and we're a part of that infinite horizontal. We're born and die here. Between those termini lives everything. We don't have words for all of it. The electricity that makes your skin itch right before the storm. The way the air bends before the branch falls from the tree. The appetizing smell of tiny things afraid.
I should write this down, she says.
She says I'm there with her, only I don't remember. I wish I did to make her feel better. But I'm glad I don't if it's true. If it's true, it's terrible. We live and die.
We're attracted to people we meet in dreams because we've lived other lives with them. That's one of her concepts, and she's always trying to get me to understand her concepts.
"I loved you the first moment I saw you," I say to help her know I get some of it. "I had to have you. Is that one of those invisible feelings that moves between real things?"
She ignores me. She says there is no reincarnation. There's only incarnation. We live a whole lot of lives at once. An infinity of lives, she says. And we switch between them. Every morning we wake up in a different life.
I put honey in Alex's cup every morning because she doesn't like sugar. I tell her I have a lot of sugar but I don't have infinity honey. I'll have to get more eventually, and she gives me that eye look of hers. It's a look that goes with words about my mocking her and by now she doesn't have to say anything at all. She doesn't even have to look at me very long and I feel it.
It's that feeling that goes through the air like candle fire. The way the mouse feels one second before a cat the size of God pounces onto it.
Alex tells me she was once the tiger. I was the gazelle. And then once I was the cat and she the mouse, and I let her go. That's my weakness. I won't kill to eat and so I die, time after time.
My weaknesses. They're so obvious to her she needs to explain them to me regularly just to keep her head clear.
She doesn't want me to keep dying the way I do. The world is a violent place. Why won't I cultivate some of my own to save my own life? When I die out of this life and wake up again, our roles will be different, and it will be harder for me to learn. I've got the chance now before I become the nothing that moves between, and can only be felt by things.
As I head to the door she tells me to be careful, but knows I wont. In another place right now we're husband and wife, sleeping in a tent beside a calm river in the woods. If only I would close my eyes for a minute, I'd feel it too.
I never do.
She climbs up onto the back of my sofa and stares out the living room window, warmed by the morning sun. There's a lot to do before we wake beside the river. She's already forgotten I'm there.
"Sure. I will," I say. "You guard the house."
I pick up my briefcase, make sure her bowl is full, the litterbox clean, and I kiss her on the forehead and go out to live a life I think I know.