I’ve been talking to Dario a lot lately. Because he’s always there, it’s easy. Mostly, he stands behind me just a bit, stepping outside my shadow to warn me of this or that, or to motion quickly with excitement with his large hands, so that I can come running to see some full moon beneath the trees. Glorious, he’ll proclaim, as if he’s never noticed this bright stone hung low in the sky. Dario, I say, this is largely unimportant. Once again you’ve pulled me from my heavy dreams only to have to check in with the world again.
You need to stop thinking so hard, my dear, about all these things you think so hard about, he replies. I can see your thoughts flying around your head like tiny coo-coo birds. Of course your thoughts would look like coo-coo birds. The antique birds, you know, tiny statues like, the ones that would pop out of a clock.
I smile at Dario. He seems to know me well. We’ve only recently met a year ago. He started following me at the museum, and just never left. He ruffles my hair and we keep walking. We have been walking forever, but not getting far. It seems I’m often stuck in the same place, I yell, as the wind picks up. The wind feels good on a hot day. Despite the heat, Dario is wearing a faux fur coat & a heavy wool fedora. His hair is long & stringy & he’s seemed to have lost a good bit of weight. Sometimes Dario forgets to eat, & I will remind him from time to time. Dario, your bones look brittle today. In this heat, you’ve barely broken a sweat! We must find a place to settle.
I lead Dario to a nearby fig tree. The leaves are gigantic, heart shaped, and luscious. Some of the branches are weighed down by the heaviness of the fruit. It was not hard for us to stop walking. We lay down under the tree & through its branches stare up at the sky. It is so hot, yet overcast, and so bright you can barely stare at the whites of the sky without being blinded. This reminds me of when I was blind, Dario states. Dario talks a lot about how he used to be blind, until he could see. He will reminisce on the days in which music was his only fruit, and he would sit quietly with waves behind his eyes, listening to Muddy Waters, and crying through those weary Chicago blues.
The thing about Dario is that he isn’t actually a person at all. He’s become more of an entity than he ever was a person. I like him that way. I like the way he sits, close to my shoulder, but never too close. The thing about Dario is that he’s really trans- formative. I like to imagine him however I want. Often times I will imagine him in a sheer white robe, thin sandals, and a satchel, just like when we met. Sometimes he becomes sexy, his flimsy body becoming earth, rock & hardlined, but I still don’t always want him that way, only when sexiness is a need. Other times, he just seems a child, whimsical somehow. Mostly though, I see him as he really is, a whispery figment of myself: self-conscious, secretive, anxious, foolish, sadly in love with everything all at once.
We are sitting under the fig tree now. I realize how thirsty I really am. The heat is perplexing! It makes me delirious. Foolish girl, you full of crazy love. Dario lacks patience with me sometimes. He knows I take too much. He knows I tend to lack real control. You, young woman, are too much of a storm sometime. You take& you take & sometime you a destroy! Dario sometimes likes to yell at me in an Italian accent. Just for kicks, he says, returning to his normal, quiet voice. Dario stares, he knows all about this already. He softly grazes his pointer finger across my collar bone, nudging me. It so easy for you to sit a minute under a fig tree, but that is as far as you get. You need to move along now, he says. Settle down or move along. It’s time. You must learn to be fair. You cannot love everyone in this way any longer.
I know he’s right, but I can’t take his advice. I am too in love with everything all at once. I am so thirsty beyond my own control. I pull figs frantically from the bottom of the tree. Ripping them apart, I try to suck at any juice in their gummy insides. The flavor is intense, heavy on my tongue. There is no juice. My heart is burning. I pick many figs, stashing them in my skirt, as I begin to run. Dario is yelling at me to come back, but I can’t hear him, I am running, I am crying. Limbs aching, tears falling down my cheeks. I drink my tears as I run and I begin to feel calm. From my skirt a few of the figs drop to the ground. I hesitate, knowing I should go back down the path and pick them up, but sometimes fate is enough.