Tuesday, February 20, 2018


There were no cell phones. First thing noticed. I reached into my pocket to snap a photo and came up empty. All we could do was watch.

A pillar of white fire, rising to our west, blocking out the setting sun. What had been an orange sky was now bright as midday.

No noise. The tower continued to rise in what looked like slow-motion, the way fire does when it roils and boils and becomes a conflagration. That word kept cadencing in my head. Conflagration. We were witnessing one in real time.

Our eyes met. You didn’t look scared. Not at all. Your face was wild with amazement and in that moment I could not have loved you more.

The white light overwhelmed everything.

In your hands was a book. Hardback, bound in green leather. Gold leaf. You were stretched out on a cream leather sofa, wearing a tank top. The book looked like it had a nightlight inside the pages. It glowed in your hands.

“There we two, content, happy in being together, speaking little — perhaps not a word.” You closed the book and closed your eyes and did not speak again.

But I could hear you humming a song. Faint at first, so faint I was not immediately sure if I was imagining the noise. Then a melody began to emerge, and within a few bars I recognized the song. I started to hum along with you, one octave below you, and as the melody floated around us you smiled.

The white light overwhelmed everything.

You were asleep, your back to me, your hair cascading across a pillowcase of yellow. You were having a dream, I thought — you were saying something under your breath and your legs moved as if you were running.

I touched your shoulder. You turned as if you were startled. In your eyes I could see the white fire rise like twin explosions. You looked disconnected from us. You looked disappointed.

You pointed at me and began to spell out words using your finger as a pencil. The letters left tracers in the air between us.

“You promised,” you wrote.

I woke up and sat up in bed.

“I promised,” I said.

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