She catches my smile upon her face and lets it melt without movement. ‘You make me sad,’ she says. ‘Not for you but because of you.’ She takes me into her eyes and blinks slowly. ‘Your misery is contagious,’ she says, shuttered. ‘It’s an infection.’ We breathe in turns and the air grows thick and warm. ‘It will kill love,’ she says. ‘It will spread its tendrils into my affection and strangle it dead.’ I will find a cure, I tell her, I can be well. ‘I know that’s true,’ she says, ‘but I’m not sure that you do.’
Split again by distance but tethered differently now. We walk a spiral together, passing similar landmarks at different latitudes. Each new angle viewed comes with a small exclamation avowing everything wondrous. I wish I could reel in the rope that binds us, though tracing its knots is more comfort than I could hope and its weft is weighted perfectly. I think of that inexpressible smile, a thousand types of countenance in kaleidoscopic incarnation, who’s light does it shine on tonight. I think of all I love and fasten it around myself, mooring my spirit to vast and unpredictable happiness.
Lost as usual, or found again, in lionised eyes. Time passes. Thirteen point eight billion years theorised, over a dozen epochs subdivided across eras then in turn divided by ages. Pupils dilate. Four hundred milliseconds to blink. Barely the length of a Planck between us when one arcsecond ticks a parsec. Lips part. Seventeen muscles to smile, they say, and seventy two beats for one to pump blood, unless it’s in love. Vows are exchanged. Nine billion, one hundred ninety-two million, six hundred thirty-one thousand, seven hundred seventy transitions cross a caesium atom. An eternity is spent.