A Little Less Tell (An Excerpt on Love)

The girl’s got a darkness that even the best spelunkers couldn’t spelunk. She looks like a light bulb but really, she’s a cavern, she’s the longest shadow in town, an alleyway shadow, a street lamp shadow, a shadow too shadowy for its own britches. To be more succinct, there is a place inside our protagonist that is the physiological equivalent of a black hole puckering its lips in some far corner of the universe. It’s a place that wants to be more like the stars, who radiate the kind of life-giving forces planets need to thrive, assuming they inhabit the Goldilocks zone. It’s a place, to be less scientific, that looks like a leaky bucket. You fill it up but after a while it spills out. You fill it up. It spills out. So she’s got a hole in her. Or two. She’s got a desperation about her. A mad desire for something achingly kindred, a furious need for mutual understanding, an absolute longing for Home. And the girl loves so hard it hurts. To be even more succinct, the girl loves too hard to let go in a reasonably healthy fashion. Hence the ideation at the overpass. Hence patterns of passionate love that don’t just peer over the edge of destruction, but plunge in completely.

The author supposes, having read what’s been written, that a little more showing and a little less telling might do the reader some good. So here goes:

They met on Tinder. Yes. Tinder. Anna didn’t even remember swiping right, not that Marlowe wasn’t memorable. On the contrary, she had eyes a goldfish would memorize to its dying day, eyes that reanimated the brains of dementia patients, eyes that flickered and gleamed the way a forest does at sunset. And she had cherry brown curls that fell in beach wave ringlets to her shoulders. And she had a smile. Oh that smile. It was a smile that stretched across her face like a rainbow across the rain soaked sky. It was a smile that made Anna melt, that weakened her already creaky knees, and unleashed two whole swarms of Monarch butterflies into her stomach. In terms of chemistry, theirs was volatile, the kind of mutual physiological reaction that’d set the whole lab on fire, that’d send the chemists running with their coats and panties at their ankles, yelling at everyone to evacuate the building. It was also the kind of chemistry that only the moon, the fat, waxing gibbous, and the sea, the briny briny sea, could understand. Theirs was the kind of chemistry that seemed to the exclusion of everyone else in the room, nay the world, the most important secret in the Universe.

The author will tell you that this secret is really no secret at all—that the whole point of this novel is to make the reader aware of their own capacity to get in on the action. And it’s a simple matter, really. Simple in syntax. In practice, things get… shall we say… heavy. But a lotus flower, to name a notable cliché, has got to go through all sorts of muck and sludge and dark, dark pond to get to the light. Kind of like a mole rat whose decided he’s had enough of the subterranean lifestyle. Kind of like a bear finally emerging from the Longest Hibernation Ever. Kind of like a soul awoken from an eternity’s aching slumber.

And that is what came of Anna and Marlowe. Well… at least for Anna. Marlowe’s part in this story is altogether brief. Because the author does not believe in telling love stories. Instead, the author believes that life—the real juicy stuff—happens when the heart lies in ruins, still throbbing with the ecstasy of yesterday, bleeding all over the good carpet, all over the city, searching for a new and equally significant high, all the while plunging like a lotus flower in reverse back down into the depths. So if you’re wondering what’s become of Marlowe, you’ll have to ask her, or stay tuned for some trite sequel, because this story is about Anna, about what happens when a girl falls for who she believes to be the mirror reflection of her soul, who she believes to be her destiny, her final frontier, the lone rose in her secret garden. About what happens when a girl, for all she knows, is dead wrong, and has to let go of thinking she has any fucking clue what life is about. And the story is about a Shaman who does. A Shaman whose apple pies’ll knock your tube socks right off.

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Something About Love (An Excerpt)

Here is something the author knows about love:

Listen reader, the author doesn’t expect you to live a life as extraordinary as the Shaman’s. If, however, you do lead an extraordinary life, please give yourself a genuine and heartfelt pat on the back. We cannot doubt the importance of living boldly.

For at the core of such a life there throbs a great willingness to take risks, to take mindful and impassioned leaps of faith into the great big unknown.

Did the Shaman know the island would be there? Let’s ask him, but stay quiet; he’s meditating.

“Hey Shaman…”

One green peeper opens with a mixture of irritation and nonattachment. “What is it?” He asks with a cinnamon roll of this lonely open eye.

“Did you know the island was waiting eight miles off the shore for you? Or did you dive into the salty Pacific merely hoping it would be there?”

He scoffs that signature scoff of his—the kind of scoff that doubles as a shrug and moonlights as a pooh-pooh on the weekends. “It was a simple matter of concentrated divination. Now please, I’m trying to meditate.”

When the Shaman meditates, two things happen: the koas blush and the Universe expands to play catch up.

Space is not merely a matter of the third dimension.

The brain is capable of many feats, one of which is that it can simulate the sensory conditions of visualization—anything you picture in your mind, you bring to life. If you want to imagine a baboon rubbing his butt against your leg in an effort to rob you of your cookies, and you’re able to hold the vision for a long enough time, you might just feel the fuzzy red flesh of ape cheek against your calf, as well as the profound disappointment of having lost a freshly baked batch of oatmeal raisin to a being of lesser evolutionary stature.

The same goes for space: if you can visualize yourself surrounded by infinite space, pregnant with it, a stomach full of it, and you hold the vision long enough, you will actually begin to feel it.

So space is also a matter of the fifth dimension—an inner experience as well as outer.

And one must have a healthy dose of both if they want love to thrive.

Anna never learned the value of space until it was forced upon her by her parents’ divorce. The collapse of the family unit as she’d known it left a void inside her—one that’d been previously filled by social and familial expectations, by enmeshed roles of identity, by hidden codependency.

It was not until she began living with the Shaman that she learned the true value of this most important ingredient of love.

“Love blossoms first within the Self.” He said, catching glimpses of the sunset through the Technicolor concoction in his highball glass. It looked like the Sun was dressing in tie-dye lace, swimming in a bowl full of jelly.

“Then what happens?” she asked him between sips of potato vodka and blueberry.

“That’s it.”

“What do you mean? It doesn’t go anywhere?”

“Love flows from the Self,” he said as the bowl of jelly began to spin, “and downriver the Self is there to receive it.”

Just then, the Sun began to twinkle in the upstairs hearth of the forest. The sky, in turn, blushed in six different languages. A mourning dove not endemic to the island landed on the porch. On her beak was a smile the size of a fried plantain. Anna smiled too. The time was soon at hand for her to return to the mainland.

For it is not merely a matter of creating space. One must also bring it to life—set aflame the joy of their own soul, pour it out their eyes and… One must begin to fill it with good salubrious work, the kind of work that makes a man go “whoo” when the day is done, the kind of work that cannot truly be called work if it is done with purpose. One must cultivate their space until the avocado plants are growing six feet high and the bees are having way too much fun pollenating the orchids. Cause everyone knows, all work and no play makes Jack a dull bee. But a bee that enjoys its work makes honey sweeter than a peach, and its space becomes rife with that sweet honey love.

The kind of love you can bake a pie with—a pie so good it’s guaranteed to make life at least five slices more bearable.