She plants the garden full of supple fruits and winding stairways. The apples of her cheeks are blooming, as is the heat of her chest as her heart shudders. All along the high line, her dress flows, delicate and fluttering in the summer breeze.

Almost as if by cue, as his heels click against the stone path, she turns, a broad smile across her lips. Her dark hair, curled and layered in a calculated careless manner, shifts in her step, falling down a shoulder, covered by lace and silk.
Her teeth, polished, look simple and neat against her pink tinged lips.
Her hands are held at an angle with her waist, held just so, and her fingers are outstretched, as if waiting for something to hold.

Her pace quickens as she closes the gap between them. Then she slows, subtly, determined not to be the first to end the distance.

He greets her dutifully and she can’t help but see the slight flush of his cheeks as he says her name, caressing the syllables with his tongue. She can’t help but see the nervous way he shuffles his feet, his polished leather shoes, and how he pulls at his consummate tie.

Her mind floods with the buzzing of the many clues that divine his desire for her. Then the pyramid she has built, the pyramid of cards that she has so decisively set up, topples under her doubt.

She watches the scene unfold in her mind’s eye, this time situated several paces away. He greets her, and this time, all the clues are absent. His gaze is friendly enough, platonic, lacking any romantic feeling.

And she snaps back to attention, staring at the mosaic that rests in front of her, such a well-assembled pack of half-truths, assumptions, and lies.

She opens her mouth, summoning up her feelings for one final analysis before she lays herself bare. Then she finds her own catalog of senses befuddled, her vision dimmed in the shroud of uncertainty.

“And tomorrow, they’ll paint the gates a new bronze,” he is telling her. Her lips slide shut once more as her mind grasps his words.

“That is so very lovely,” she adjoins, her mind a fugue. She decides in the moment, with great reluctance, to shelf her confession for the time being. So much rests on her deciphering the few and broken clues, and how ill-prepared she is to do so.

If only the wind could howl fiercely in that moment, so that she could cry aloud, “I love you!” and he could choose to hear her or not. If only the ocean was not thousands of miles away, so that it could drown her words on her lips, and preserve their great friendship of eight years.

How she loathes living in this isolated castle, this garden without a flowing stream this very second; how there appears no worse a fate.

Her stomach drops to her feet, and her insides receive a painful tug.

“Was there something you wanted to tell me?” He questions her now, his husky voice too close to her ears, too intimately attuned to her thoughts and, yet, still an island away.

She pauses in her survey of the garden, one heel resting against the other. She draws a breath, and the world suspends, the molecules of air intently alert. “Oh,”

The wind is shrieking in her thoughts and the ocean has sent wave after wave crashing into her garden, wrecking it asunder, in her quasi dreams.

Her chuckle is almost bitter, and her eyes look pityingly up at him before she speaks.

“No. Nothing at all.”


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