Paralyzing Definitions
by William Michaelian

I met her walking in the woods. It was late fall. We had the trail to ourselves. We were both outfitted for the night, so we set up camp together near a tiny lake just below the tree line. We talked for a short time, then retired to our tents.

When I awoke, she was building a fire. Her long brown hair partially concealed her bare back and shoulders. I made a noise. She turned around. She was naked to the waist and unashamed. She smiled at me with her eyes and said good morning.

We spent the whole day walking. For the fun of it, we agreed not to tell each other our names, or where we were from, or what we did for a living. She said she was tired of paralyzing definitions. I said I understood.

That evening we spent the night together near a meadow at about seven thousand feet. It was warmer there, so we slept under the stars. But first we sang. She had a beautiful voice. It was easy to listen to and much better than mine.

In the morning, just as it was getting light, I heard her crying softly. I asked her if there was anything I could do. She said yes, there was, and asked me to hold her. She sat up and I put my arms around her.

Everything is so sad, she said. I�m sorry about this. I told her not to be. The sadness will pass, I said. Then we waited and it got light. When I asked her if she wanted me to build a fire, she said no, let�s build it together.

I will never forget that day. We talked about what we hated and what we loved, what we believed in and what we knew were lies. All the while, we pretended to be strangers. But we were really more like children eager to find our way.

When a dark cloud passed overhead, I learned she was afraid of thunder. When the sun returned, she laughed and rubbed my face. When I kissed her, she trembled. When she took my hand, I gave her my heart.

And I asked myself, how do things like this happen? The answer was easy. They don�t. And yet, this was happening. We looked at each other and smiled. We climbed atop a giant mound of granite and stretched out in the sun.

An hour passed, then another. But it might have been a century. Open the door, her mind said to mine. Let me come in. I opened the door. And we dreamed together in silence for a long, long time.

The rest I can�t explain, her sadness, my yearning. I met her walking in the woods. We were together a short time, then went our separate ways. I never learned her name or where she lived. To this day, I wonder about those paralyzing definitions.

William Michaelian�s newest releases are two poetry collections, Winter Poems and Another Song I Know, published in paperback by Cosmopsis Books in San Francisco. His short stories, poems, and drawings have appeared in many literary magazines and newspapers. His novel,
A Listening Thing, is published here in its first complete online edition. For information on Michaelian�s other books and links to this site�s other sections, please go to the Main Page or visit Flippantly Answered Questions.

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