My name is Blue and I have never been called anything else. I am called this because when I was born I was not alive, and the doctors had to push air into my feeble, underdeveloped lungs. Ever since then the world has had to give me back my breath.

I lift the box of old books and clothes off the back of my bicycle and set it on the ground. An old woman greets me and I smile, shaking the hair out of my eyes. The length of my plait now reaches the top notch of my spine and I enjoy the feel of it brushing the back of my neck. The air has a chill but the sky is clear and too bright and the sleeves of my sweatshirt are too short and my fingers have become numb. Winter is my favorite season, but its warmth is artificial and the beauty of it is in the ice. But ice can bite.

I see you in the crowd. You are wearing a red plaid flannel shirt and your hair is carefully disheveled and instantly I want to wrap my arms around you and hold you close against me but I won't.

What if I walked up to you and said, “Do you feel like the world is going to end today?” Because that's the kind of day it is. And I am the kind of happy where it doesn't even matter if the world is going to end because I have found a flame inside of myself after seeing you. 

What if, instead, I asked you, “Are you the kind of person who falls in love with everyone they meet?” Because I am. And you are my newest lover and by far the most important.

If I asked you what your favorite color was, would you say blue? Or is it too deep, too much for you to fall into? Do you want a solid, passionate red, or perhaps a calm green? Because I will tell you that I am not too deep for you to drown in unless you want to, and I would open my heart and my mind only for you.

All of this I feel in less than five seconds. And I know that this is it.

And when our eyes lock, my lungs are filled and I breath freely. You are what the world has given back to me.

And when our bodies flow over each other in the waves of my bed, I will pull you into me, and together we will become invisible –  a spinning, endless vortex of love.

And when the apocalypse comes, I will find you.

“Hi,” you say.

I nod, lowering the cup of coffee onto the table. The ceramic cup is hot beneath my fingertips.

You sit down across from me. “I saw you at the free market. I took one of your books.”

I nod again. I am speechless. What am I supposed to say? That I have been dreaming about you for a week now? And suddenly you have appeared before me like an apparition, a vision, a ghost, clad in a blue thermal shirt.
The Waste Land,” you continue. “Why did you get rid of it?”
“I've already memorized it,” I say. My first words to you spoken aloud. Fitting, I guess, since you have already been memorized in my mind, your face imprinted into my memory.

You sigh and it is not a sad sigh. “I haven't read it in years. I forgot how beautiful it was.”

I smile and hope it is not a sad smile. The same overwhelming feeling begins – lungs that constrict, a stomach that clenches, fingers that tremble.

“I hope this isn't strange, but I've been looking for you.” You look unsure as you say this, hesitant of my reaction, fearful that you've frightened me.

I shake my head slowly. You avoid my gaze. I think of the things I should say to you.

I have been looking for you too. You have consumed my mind. I slept in a neighbor's car last night and awoke with a vision of making love with you in a field. The city lights by the river fill me with loneliness. I already know what your lips will feel like pressed against mine.

Finally your eyes come back to mine. Your face relaxes. Have I just said all of this aloud?

I feel brave. “I have nothing to give, nothing offer you but words.” A profound silence follows as we sit trying to figure each other out. There is a resolution written on your face.

You break the silence first. “What's your name?”

I take a deep breath. “Blue.”    

This kiss that was once a raindrop has turned into an ocean.

Outside it rains hard, and I revel in the steady sound of water against the window. It is nearly dusk and the light filters through the rain, casting small shadows across your face and shoulders. 

I want you in the rain, you say. I want to feel you soaked in water. Run my hands over your body, feel your clothes sticking to you.

I have never had anyone say things like that to me. My limbs float in the bed like we are under the ocean, suspended in the cold void.

Do you like the taste of rain? you ask. You don't wait for me to respond and I couldn't produce words even if I wanted to. I want to taste it on you as it runs down your hair and face, clean and sweet.

I dream of standing in the rain in a white dress holding soaked flowers.

The dress is covered in beads, thin lace straps running over my shoulders. It is tight and rests heavily on my body. The lightning cracks and my heart does not skip a beat. My body is warm and I am ready to be kissed until I fall apart.

I do not know where I am. Standing in front of a deserted, moss-covered castle. There are leaves and petals in my hair, a wreath of laurel and lily.

Is this our wedding? Where are you?

I awaken in the dark to you beside me, your cheek warm on the pillow. I want to weave these dreams into stories for you.

We sit on the floor eating cold Chinese food from the carton. Our shiny red plastic chopsticks keep clacking together as we reach for the same piece of broccoli. We turned off the lights and the television turned on to the local news station. The evening news reporter looks somber in her pink coat. She is informing the city about the evacuations in Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles. The earthquakes have gotten so bad that buildings lie in ruins, heaps and piles scattered along the coast. I wonder when we will feel the aftershocks here, for it is inevitable. We are next. The ruin comes for us all.

I reach into the carton again to spear a piece of chicken and my chopsticks clamp yours instead. I give a playful tug as our utensils briefly tango. I look up at you and smile.

You do not smile in return. Something burns in your eyes. I awaken the next morning to chaos and an empty apartment.

I lost you to the apocalypse, but I made you a promise.  

I run through the rubble barefoot. This is not the dream I once had, a dream of rain and flowers. This is a reality of broken neon and rocks that cut into the soles of my feet. 

I climb jagged mountains for you. I throw myself off cliffs and plunge into the sea for you. You have already left me and there is nothing more I fear.

Love has made me bold. I fight the terrors of the wasteland.

A year passes in the gray, and I grow stronger, every day spent in pursuit of you.

Love has made me a weapon. I fight until I become the terror. 

And then I find you, after another year in the desolation. Across from the broken bridge you stand, whole and perfect, clad in plaid. A fissure of stone lays between us. You do not leap and I do not make a move toward you. We don't need to touch to feel closer than we are now.

The earth trembles beneath my bleeding feet.

I've found you. •