The Understory

“I was having the strangest dream,” Bez says.

It’s dark in my room, and the light that slips in through the crack follows the curve of her shoulder, her waist, her hip, a path from top to bottom. I cannot see her eyes, but I know they are open, cannot see her lips move, but can feel her breath fluttering against my neck as she speaks.

“We were in the forest,” she continues. “You were wearing a beautiful white dress, and you were wading barefoot in a pool full of lily pads. Fish were breaking the surface of the water around you, jumping out and falling back into the water, but they never made a splash. They slipped into the water without causing even a ripple.”

“Where were you?” I ask. I am stroking her hair and breathing in her scent.

“I was on the bank, using a stick to draw circles around myself in the dirt. No, not just circles. I was making designs and runes, like I was Morgan le Fay in a Waterhouse painting. You started walking deeper into the water, and every step you took, the water in the pond began to rise, creeping up the bank toward me. The deeper you went, the higher the water rose. When it reached the circles surrounding me, it parted around it, like it was pressing up against an invisible wall, and it washed off around me, taking the lily pads and the fish with it.”

Bez is shivering slightly, having kicked the blanket off of herself while she slept. I reach and pull it back over the both of us.

“You kept walking into the water, and when it was up to your neck, the water was pouring out of the pond like it was a flash flood, full of white water and tree branches smashing up against the wall around me. As soon as your head went under though, the water started moving backward away from me and back into the pond, like a film in reverse.”

“Was I drowned?” I ask. I am thinking of when I did drown as a girl, and I shiver now myself as some dark memory in me scratches against the lid of the box I keep it buried within.

“No,” she says. “You were underwater, but you weren’t drowning. It’s like you were in a reflected version of the world outside the pool, only on your side it was outside, and to you it looked like I was the one who was under the water. I held my hand down to you to try to pull you out, but when I put it against the surface of the water, I couldn’t go below it. It was like pressing up against a brick wall.”

“And then?”

“And then I woke up,” she says.

A car passes by on the street outside, and for a moment its headlights catch and reflect off something and light the space around us a bit brighter, and I see us both reflected in the mirror opposite my bed, pale islands surrounded by an ocean of darkness, together and alone in the same heartbeat’s space, and then the light is gone and we are returned to a world of touch and not vision.

“I want you to kiss me,” I say, and so she does. I imagine that I can taste the woodland on her lips, the soil and leaves and the thousand spices of the understory of the forest. Sometimes, she is everything I want.

Most times.

“You know,” she says, when the kiss is broken and she nestles her head back into the crook of my neck, “the next time we both don’t have boyfriends at the same time, I think we should try dating each other.”

“Nikola isn’t my boyfriend. We’ve been over this.”

“I didn’t mean you,” she says. “I’ve started seeing this guy from the bookstore.”

“Oh,” I say, taken aback. “You didn’t say anything about dating anybody. I had no idea.”

“Well, you know me. Into a guy one day, bored stupid the next. I figured I’d keep it to myself until we’d had a few more dates.”

“Well then,” I say, and then I don’t know what to say, so I fall silent.

“Next time, though,” she says, and she rests her hand on my belly, sending a quiet quiver to the heart of me. “Next time I’m going to date the hell out of you.”

I need more contact, and roll onto my side and drape my bare leg over hers. “I can live with that,” I tell her.

And honestly, I think that I could.

Previous Post
Next Post
Leave a comment


  1. Professions aside, sometimes I think we’re not so unalike, you and I.

    Unless you have a professional confession to make?

    • Kameko

       /  March 1, 2012

      No confessions over here, I swear.

      Although if I do decide on a change in my career path, you shall be the first to know.

      Always a good idea to get advice from the best, after all.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *