It was warm in the summer when he left. He wasn’t quite sure how to tell her why he left her; it’s hard to look someone you love in the eyes and say, “I can’t be with someone who is so dead inside.” But dead inside she was. Day after day, it was as if there was a mysterious force inside of her, pulling her towards the light that he couldn’t touch, the harsh and burning light, the one he couldn’t touch and didn’t want to if he tried.
There was smoke in the air. It was summer, and the farmers burned their fields into an orange haze that draped around the trees like heavy, clinging vines. He couldn’t stand to be with her. Not when it was so hot. Not like this.
She was beautiful when they first met. Her white dress, her red lips, her orange hair. But you only had to look as far as her eyes to know that something wasn’t right. There was an integral piece of her missing, as if the thing that taught her how to breathe hadn’t been encoded correctly, was all coiled up inside her.
They didn’t like the same things, he decided. That was it. She was too cold, too set on her desires, and those desires didn’t include him or anything he wanted for himself.
He was a mechanic, and their home was full of things he had tinkered on—microwaves, radios, anything he could lay his hands on, really. She hated it. She would find all of the little pieces of things he had meticulously destroyed and would step on them in the night by accident, leaving little shards of glass or metal in her foot. She didn’t care about his creations. She wanted to be beautiful. That was her only goal.
Incidentally, she was, and incidentally, this was the thing that had initially attracted him to her and also the thing that now made him repulsed. She was a lizard, her tongue getting stuck in her lipstick, her day revolving around checking boxes in her head and checking how she looked in the mirror. No one had ever told her she was ugly, he supposed.
But she was. She was deeply ugly, inside her soul. He one night imagined what it might be like to be her, and the barrenness of what was inside actually made his breath catch in his throat. It was a dry, sparse desert in her heart. She was a dry desert, and yet she was still chasing after a sun that only burned her and it was a sun that he couldn’t catch if he tried.
He had tried once, and so he knew that it eluded him. He was certain it eluded her, too, but with people like her, you couldn’t convince them otherwise. You just had to let them run until they burned up. Some people never burned up, and ended up a great angry mess of dry heat. Or at the very least, a hollow shell.
He loved her because he had once tried to chase the same sun, and he knew how it felt to be a dry, arid desert. This was something with which he could empathize. Yet, today, in this hazy, hot summer weather, he did not want it in his life anymore.
It was a cancer, she felt as a cancer feels, and he wanted her gone. To erase her memory from his memory. He didn’t want to have to be chained to a shell. He wanted to be free, free to flow around the world like water when it rains.
This was a new thought for him, but one that once thought couldn’t be unrealized. He didn’t even know how he had gotten so sucked in—that was the thing about beautiful people to him. They were like moths, elaborate moths. They were gorgeous, then he caught them, but when he tried to eat their insides he realized that all that was inside was dust. She had attracted him with her beauty, and lulled him into the false sense of security thinking that maybe, they would be able to be happy together. Nothing evil ever looked so nice.
Yet, he realized now, he found himself inexplicably linked to a pile of dust. And he was dry. It had been a dry, arid year for his soul, and all he craved was wetness. Wetness that she undoubtedly could not provide, for no fault of her own.
He didn’t know how to tell her, so he got into his pickup and simply drove away. He didn’t have much; only a bag full of his clothes, his guitar. A love song for no one in his heart.
In the morning, she found his note. She felt a hollow sinking inside. Was she more self-aware, she might have recognized that her heart just broke. But she put on her makeup and went out into the world, oblivious to the injurious dryness that she possessed, causing a drought wherever she went. She couldn’t help it, after all.