To our left, another door shone through the mist, and as Rusty and I approached, I licked my nose to take the chill out of it before whipping my tail. Peering into the light, the music coming from within made me close my eyes as the moment I bore witness to was as known to me as the freckles on the back of my hands-that-were-now-paws. Doors passed in quick succession, each showing a moment of her life that I had tasted first hand. The first time we met. The first kiss. The first fuck—the last. Each was full of poetry, and each spoke to my heart in a way nothing else could, and as I found my heart swaying, I could sense that her own was closer than it had been in years, so close that its beat met mine just as it used to when we spent the days not wishing for anything else than to be in each other’s arms.
“You could slip through any door and exist in perpetual bliss,” said Rusty, “and yet the sweetness of an embrace is made sweet because like fruit, it tastes sweet only for a while, and then the miracle returns to the void from where it came.”
Eyeing me up, he waited for a response, but I remained silent.
“You could try to remain forever untouched from the outside world, and yet without the pain and loss that tomorrow brings, the love we seek would go no deeper than skin.”
Another lick of my nose. Another door showing another memory.
“All your life you’ve sought one of two doors. One that leads to a timeless bubble, the other leading to denial. Perhaps now is the time to try a third. A door that leads not to yesterday, or a stasis that chains you to the same, but a door that takes you to tomorrow. This will undoubtedly deliver you to loss, and it will bring about your eternal demise, and yet as you wander closer and closer to the edge, so the love you seek will shine as bright as the light that now surrounds you.”
Again, he waited for a response, and this time he found one. It wasn’t in words, but in the look I gave as X danced on the other side of a door—her arms stretched out to the sky on some night spent beneath the stars I’d long thought had slipped away.
“It hurts, doesn’t it? And it’s supposed to. Beauty comes from the seed of pain—if it doesn’t—then it’s not beauty, and it’s not worth holding onto. But you know that, don’t you? You wouldn’t have made it this far if you didn’t. You would’ve slipped away unnoticed like so many do, too afraid to confront the shame of their tawdry lives.”