I only wanted to make you feel loved, that was my truest desire, down to the marrow of my bones. I wanted to lie in the simplest embrace and watch our souls transcend our bodies through our irises so that we could be together in the purest form. I wanted to protect you from all the evil in the world and experience with you all the joy and ecstasy. I wanted to fight for you with all of the passionate desire that burns inside of me and I wanted you to love me for it. But instead, I push the pedal to the metal and run, run, run away. I speed through the night, catching only minor glimpses of the desolate landscape around me. I race until the paved road ends and then I'm jostling across the terrain with no end in sight. Dirt and dust spin clouds around the car and I lose all visibility. I fly blindly across the land, like a torpedo shooting toward its target. Except that I have no target, no destination. I glance down at the fireflies capped in the jar now bouncing violently in the passenger's seat. I grab the jar and pull it to my face, admiring the beautiful glow reflected a thousand times in the glass container. The car shudders and slowly begins to lose speed. I toss the jar and watch it shatter in the rearview, specks of brilliant light darting from the wreckage. Several dozen yards later, the car rolls to a halt. I climb out of the car and observe the desert basin surrounding me. It is vast and empty, lit only by the twinkling stars above. In the distance I spy a raised plateau in the midst of a bundle of low foothills, several thousand meters across the basin. I begin to wander toward the plateau, gazing up at the stars and humming to myself. I feel alone in the world, but the world is as it should be. The urge to run overwhelms me and I take off across the dirt. I have to run from the car. I have to run from it all. I become winded quickly and slow to a walk again. I peer out at the world that I am pursuing. I drink in the beauty of the untouched, soaking up the features of the land. In the hills I see the soft curve of your hip. I trace the voluptuous shape with my finger. I follow the silhouetted skyline and run my hand across your hard, flat, plateaued stomach. I quiver with overbearing desire and lurch into a run again. I have to escape this feeling, the entrapment of it. I know that if my heart is trapped, my mind cannot be free. I was once told that there are three kinds of people in the world -- those who lead with their head, those who lead with their heart, and those who lead with their gonads. Head down, I run through the desert basin, yet again trying to outrun what isn’t there. I run until my chest burns and my lungs feel raw. I run until my arms cease pumping and my knees go weak. I run until I collapse on the desert floor. I roll onto my back and try to slow my hacking breaths. Sand cakes my skin, sticking to the sheath of sweat that covers my body. Utterly exhausted, my breathing slowly begins to even. What could be minutes or hours later, I open my eyes. The plateau rises like a monstrosity above me and I am cast in a deep shadow. I crawl to my feet and walk to the base of the tremendous structure. I begin to scramble up the loose pile of rock and dirt. Every step produces a small avalanche of debris and I can hardly gain ground on the steep slope. I slip and clamber my way uphill until I come face to face with a sheer cliff. I search the cliff face for a way forward. Several hundred yards to the left the gradient lessens and a short distance upward a small shelf is carved into the plateau. I traverse my way cautiously toward the uphill. Fifty feet from the slope my left foot slips from its foothold and I flail, balanced precariously, inches from tumbling backward down the sharp grade. I throw my torso forward, slamming my head into the cliff face, but regaining my equilibrium. I stand completely still for a moment to find my composure. I gently take another step toward my destination. Several minutes later, I reach the slope. Again I slip and struggle my way upward on the infirm ground. I reach the shelf and place my hands on the flat to hoist myself up. I roll onto the dirt and look about myself. I have climbed nearly two thousand meters up and the view is astounding. Far below, the desert sand glimmers like crystals in the starlight. The effect is such that the darkened basin reflects the midnight sky; there is no horizon, only a black void sprinkled with shimmering lights. I fall into the void, lost in serenity. My body embraces the dirt and the earth caresses my body. It is as warm and soft as your skin ever was. A warm breeze tickles my ear, just like your sweet whisper. I inhale deeply, searching for your saccharine scent. Instead I catch the only musky smell of dust. A powerful melancholy sets in at this disillusionment. The overbearing feeling brings about a whirlwind of emotion. I am instantly enraged at my lack of self-control, at my inability to keep my mind from going there. Then the sorrow sets in. I am saddened by my anger, by the rash helplessness of it. The dejection stings, but I know that it is equally as useless. I struggle to fight my way out of this dark void, but am suddenly overcome by the depth of my loss. I am lost in the midnight abyss of the desert. I am lost in the murky cavity of my mind. I search for the light, I search for your face, I search for anything to hold on to. The loneliness permeates me and a numb, tingling sensation creeps through my body. As the sense trounces me, my eyes begin to leak a thick stream of tears. I cry and cry until a puddle of bitter tears begins to soak my clothing. I cry until the puddle begins to waterfall down the plateau from my shelf. I cry until the basin fills with a salty sea of my solitude. The sea sweeps me up and I float on my back in a state of absolute despondency. The waves send me crashing into the top of the plateau. I’m as helpless as a rag doll as I’m thrown headfirst into the mass of rock. In my last moment of consciousness, I inhale as much air as my lungs will hold. Seconds later, I come to. I jerk instinctively, trying to right myself underwater. I open my eyes and try to determine which direction is upward. In the darkness, it is completely impossible. I choose a direction and begin swimming frantically. My lungs need air. My muscles spasm and my body convulses, trying to force me to draw a breath. I swim hysterically through the water, willing the surface to appear. My body shudders harshly again and my vision begins to darken at the edges. I kick my feet and paddle my hands desperately. Suddenly, my hand strikes the basin floor. Panic stricken, I whirl around. Just behind me I spot a luminous fissure. I swim toward the glowing crevice, my vision tunneling more with every stroke. I dive into the light just as my body produces a mighty spasm and I take in a frenzied breath. Cold, crisp air infiltrates my lungs and I continue drawing deep, desperate breaths. As soon as I realize that I am alive, I open my eyes. I flail wildly, sending myself flipping uncontrollably through the open air. I tumble through the sky, weightless, hopeless. The minutes stretch by before my tumbling finally stabilizes, casting me vulnerably with my back toward the earth. My adrenaline loses intensity and my heartbeat slows. In free fall, I look into the horizon, the beautiful smear of colors that I am flying through. The sky directly above is a charcoal black, still indicating the deepest hours of night. The plain of black melts into a royal blue high up in the sky. The stars that twinkle on this blue backdrop shine with a dazzling radiance. The color fades to a pale blue and then there is a thin void of lavender tinged white. Delicate yellows break the void, radiating from a deeper source just below the skyline. The horizon glows a rich orange-yellow hue, just like the tip of a flame. At the boundary where the deep teal sea meets the burning sky, the tone of the water reflects in the gleaming light. Here the colors blur and the sky blazes the exact pigment of your iris, a perfect balance of greens, blues, and grays. My heartbeat picks up again, almost as if a second wave of adrenaline has hit. My free fall seems to slow as my entire body reverberates the rapid beating in my chest. I imagine falling through your pupil and swimming through your bloodstream to seek the innermost depths of your soul. I imagine living with the most real and vital part of you and that being my entire world. I imagine what it would be like to sustain you and to be enough for you. I imagine what it would be like to be everything to you. Wisps of cottony clouds begin creeping up all around me. Still falling backward, I get the overwhelming sensation that I truly am slowing down as the fluttering of my heart begins to calm. I hit a thick bank of gray clouds and jerk at the unexpected force. I sink into the misty fortress, severely hampering my rapid descent. Drifting through the gray haze, a startling shock zaps my lower back. I yelp and contort, trying to maneuver away from the source. As I squirm, another shock licks my shoulder. I gasp and recoil reflexively. I then notice the small electrical currents rippling to and fro within the heavy fog. The baby lighting bolts dance through the dense vapor like fireflies darting through the night sky. I pull my knees to my chest and wrap my arms around them, making myself as small as possible. Charges continue to zap my shell, leaving small, painful welts on my skin. Without warning, I am abruptly falling as swiftly as I was before. I splay my arms and legs out. The dim, copious clouds stretch above me. I have clearly fallen through the barricade. A strong wind hits me with incredible force and I shoot sideways amidst a whorl of icy flurries. I see a white wall of snow before me and moments later I hurtle forcefully into the powdery mountainside. I smash into the snow and tumble wildly down the summit of the mountain. I sail head over heels, whipping up a cloud of snow around me. At first I scramble for a hold, but there is nothing amidst the soft, fresh snow. I let my body go limp and it doesn’t even hurt as I roll down the powdery slope. The only real pain is that of the icy snow against my fresh welts. I gradually lose momentum and finally roll to a halt on my back. I lie completely still for a moment to catch my breath. As I lay, the snow begins melting through my insubstantial clothing. I quickly decide that it’s time to get up. I stand up and instantly sink into snow up to my thighs. I begin to trek my way down the mountainside, wading through the snow more than walking it. It is exhausting work and my legs are quickly soaked. I continue on, falling, crawling, and hacking my way forward. My lungs burn and the icy air makes every breath harsh. I am flushed and damp with sweat and the fresh falling flakes cling to my perspiration. I think that this is the most strenuous task that I have ever taken on. I think about how these are the kinds of things that you hypothetically say that you would do for the people that you love; the type of thing that I would have done for you. I think about how grateful I am that I am experiencing this miserable hike so that you don’t have to. I think about how I would walk through this snow until I die if I knew that you would be there when I fall. Completely winded, I shuffle onward. Breathing becomes more and more difficult. Each inhale is sharp and painful. My head begins to bob forward in fatigue, but my body marches on, robotic. On autopilot, I crusade for hours through the barren white wonderland. I hardly perceive the variation when the snow begins to thin and melt and then finally disappears altogether. I continue walking in a zombie-like trance into the unknown wilderness. I keep going and going, like the Energizer bunny, blank and lifeless. A peculiar, soft wave of energy ripples through me and with a sudden pep to my step, I walk briskly up a gigantic, naked redwood. I walk thirty or forty paces up the scorched trunk until I reach a thick branch. I crouch on the branch and then straddle it, resting my back against the charred trunk. A sudden feeling of vertigo hits me and I lean to my left to right my world. I become entirely disoriented and a moment later I am aware of the sensation of falling. I twitch, reaching for a branch to save myself and become conscious not of falling from a tree, but of falling to the ground in the cryptic forest. In a dreamlike state, I fantasized climbing the tree, only to pass out on the forest floor. Now wide-awake, I sit up and observe the gutted forest. Everything is burnt to a crisp, only the blackened skeletons of the flora remain. I stare into the negative space amidst the sea of charred branches and imagine it filled with leaves and greenery. I imagine the forest coming alive, transforming into a beautiful, whimsical land. I stand up and walk toward the redwood in front of me, the redwood that I dreamed about. I walk right up to it and open my arms wide, wrapping them as far as I can around the robust, toasted trunk. I close my eyes and rest my head on the wood, flooding my nostrils with the potent stench. I picture a beautiful new forest in my mind again. Hearty, thriving trees raise a canopy over colorful, exotic flowers and plant life. I dispel the ashy aroma from my nose. I picture a breathtaking clearing, bordered on one side by a small, rocky creek winding down from the mountain. There is vibrant green grass and thousands of flowers of every color blowing gently in the breeze. I inhale the sweet scent of new growth, of fresh life sprouting fourth. I open my eyes and the tree in my arms is no longer decaying, but a strong, tall, prosperous redwood towering above me. I look around, wide-eyed, and a brilliant smile lights my face. I wander through the mystical forest, enchanted by the kaleidoscopic quality of the light refracted through the renewed canopy. I know that I have transmitted all of my positive energy, my ju ju, my innermost beauty to the growth of this forest. I know that by giving it my wealth and prosperity, I have internalized the torched carnage that it was. That is the balance of the world. I chose to rot so that the forest could thrive. Because unlike you, I know that the forest will not use me up. I gave the forest life and the forest will protect my life with shelter, food, and beauty. I do not give to receive. I give generously and abundantly for the simple reward of spreading joy. That is my purpose and my downfall. I recall wanting to give you everything, the incessant yearning to dote on and please you. But it was never enough. You were never happy. Those acts could not make you love. You used and abused until I shriveled up, dry and empty. Then you left me alone. I would have done anything for you, if you had only ever asked nicely. If you had taken with just a glimmer of elegance and grace, a small smile perhaps. I stare at the divine appreciation that the forest shows for my gift. I return to the present, to the magical woodland that I have built, and it is easy to forget all about you. It is inconsequential, unreal, as much a dream as walking up the redwood. I frolic through the woodland, aimless, content to wander the gorgeous land. As I weave through a dense patch of shrubbery, I hear the faint sound of a creek in the distance. I hurry through the rest of the bushes, tangling my feet in the branches and leaving a scattering of cuts on my shins. I stumble out the other side and step through the tree line into the exquisite meadow that I had imagined. Long, luscious blades of grass bend in the soft breeze. Small flowers speckle the landscape, a rainbow of pigments peeking through the dancing grass. Across the field, the creek weaves in and out through the tree line. Clear, fresh water rumbles through the shallow, rocky creek bed. I walk to the center of the clearing and flop onto my back. I gape at the clear blue sky, watching the fluff of pristine clouds slowly creep from east to west for hours, transfixed. When I finally sit up, the sun is just beginning its descent toward the horizon. The moon has already taken its place at the opposite end of the sky, washed out by the unnaturally light backdrop. I look toward the creek, contemplating how the brisk, snowy water would taste. I scramble to my feet and race to the creek’s edge like a playful child. I fall to my knees and cup my hands, dipping them into the cool, clear water. I bring my dripping hands to my mouth and slurp up the most refreshing drink I have ever consumed. I drink until my stomach budges out and my insides slosh with the liquid. When I look up from the water’s edge, I am surprised to see a small rowboat caught in some brush not ten feet downstream. I am both confused and intrigued at how the boat drifted past me entirely undetected. I search around the meadow, wondering if someone else is sharing this extraordinary haven with me. I see no one, nor any other sign of humanity besides the boat and myself. Curious, I walk to the boat and easily detangle it from its trap. Inside of it lies a single, heavy, wooden oar. Feeling compelled, I step into the boat. It teeters beneath me and I gently sit cross-legged in the center. I pick up the bulky oar and push off of the creek bed, propelling the boat into the rushing waters midstream. The craft bobs turbulently down the winding creek, curving to and fro beneath the canopy into the open air and the vivid sunset. Finally, the boat is spit out into a vast sea. Dozens of small rivers and creeks line the coast of the calm, homogenous body like capillaries feeding the vein. The ride instantly becomes smooth and serene, a vast contradiction to the tumultuous trip to this point. I stretch out on my back on the floor of the boat and observe the final moments of the sunset. I think of what I would give to share this moment with you. To sway you into ecstasy through a sweet embrace, the way the boat tenderly rocks me now. Here, we could transcend time and space, because none of it matters, because there is no one here to tell us that we can’t. There is nothing to come between us because nothing exists except what the two of us agree is real. This is our world, our creation. My heart sinks to the bottom of the sea as I realize that none of this is true, it is only my fantasy, an ideal. I open my tear stricken eyes to a blurry twilight melding into an amalgamous orgasm of blues and magentas. Starlight shimmers like pixie dust, reflecting brilliantly off of the tears pooled in my eyes. Fireflies race alongside the boat, casting an exceptional glow on the glassy sea. The effect is such that smooth surface reflects the twilight; there is no horizon, only an explosive void dancing with dazzling lights. I fall into the void.