Translated by Aurélie Saulnier.
The wonderful thing about meeting someone for the first time is that it often arrives unexpectedly, like a lightning bolt from the blue. I went out to have a drink with friends, as I often do, and there you were. Before I know it we are swept off to Never Land (though one should never say never) for ten days of our life. Blink. Just like that. With no warning. Leaving even my writing to languish in the weeds. For ten days. But this chance encounter was worth ten lost articles. Or a thousand. Or millions.
The spiders on the bayou. Because that’s more or less how it all began. With millions of yellow spiders from the bayou, and the Darth Vador crickets and the snakes that fell from the sky. It wasn’t my idea of Utopia, but I wouldn’t have used my time travel machine for anything else in the world. Outside there were swarms of buzzing mosquito hawks, but inside it was filled with the soft beating wings of butterflies. Butterflies are worth all the balloons in the world.
So, in order to armor ourselves against this hostile environment we created our own universe, just for the two of us without spiders or crickets or snakes. We created with ink and hot air balloons and pirates and palaces on the shore. With glasses of milk and marshmallow hamburgers. With napkinless dinners and blanketless nights. With alligators and grandma’s dresses and card games and luggage racks. With dreams of childhood and uncountable lives to live. And millions of butterflies.
Now the butterflies begin to swirl. They caress my heart, they dance in the pit of my stomach, they frolic in my mind. They remember. They remember each, improbable moment. Each improbable moment that should never have existed because he never should have been there. They remember each moment plucked from time. The boat ride, the rain, the car ride, the swing set, the naps, the wine and the ice cream. He tells me that butterflies are fleeting, ephemeral; but I think the chills rippling outward from their wings are eternal.
Now these butterflies begin to frustrate me. There are just too many of them and they invade my thoughts. I don’t want to cage them in, I don’t want to cut their wings and I don’t want to let them just fly away with no one to catch them. So I keep them within me—just a little while longer—even if they are a gift that takes up space, too much space. I don’t know how long ephemerality lasts but it must be something like forever, minus ten days.
So, here it is. I suppose this is my confession to you. I only wanted to remind you of our eternal amourette. I once believed that I read within the lines etched in your hand that we would share our frustrations and our mischievous smiles. We’ll talk about it again someday. And if your tongue should split…