We ate lunch together every day,
Lucy and I, and we talked about literature.
I was eleven. I told her about my
favorite thing from my favorite book:
a tesseract. I wanted her to know
how to travel through time with me.
After school I rode my bike to her house
so I would know where to find her.
I rode home to retrieve the book
and back toward her house
but must have turned onto the wrong
street at first, circling and exploring
the neighborhood for the red brick rancher
numbered seven one two, then back toward
school so I could take a run at it from the
original direction. How long did it take to
find her house again? I can’t say. But
when I did— and yes I am certain I was in
the right place — she was gone. She had
vanished. There was a time,
much later, when I would be too shy
to ring a doorbell, but not that day.
I rang and rang and rang, and I looked
in through the front window only to
find the house empty. The dip of panic
low in my stomach, I feel it still, the entirety
of knowing a different reality.
There was a butterfly on the rhododendron
in front of the house, putrid red flowers all
flush out of season. I held out my hand and the
butterfly flew off in the regular way, by
bursting into blue flames. I need you to think
about the butterfly for a second. And I need
you to hold my hand as I tell the story.
Please do not tesser away, as Lucy did.
The heat of your absence would be too
much to bear.