There’s a universe where everything worked out exactly like it was supposed to. Even if it worked out exactly like it was supposed to in this universe too.
In an alternative universe, I love you. That’s not quite right because I love you here, in this universe, but here is where I love you all wrong.
So instead I imagine another universe where I love you right.
Sometimes I even have wild dreams about it.
I dream you are a UPS delivery driver and you find me a little later in life when I’m ready for your stern talk and your sharp wit. You drive up to my seaside mansion (I have a seaside mansion in this universe) and I’m charmed by your uniform and the stubble on your face and the heavy crease in your brow. You’re still sad but in this universe you learned how to grow from it, you aren’t just a mass of damages and sharp edges. I finally understand the soft sadness that’s cut into your face as I lean over the balcony with my opera glasses. You call up to me like I’m Juliet.
I understand every word you say. I never hurt you with confusion.
Instead I tumble down two stories into your arms and our first kiss is a painting – a mockery of reality. Your colors burst out everywhere and we’re happy. I wake up missing a you that has never existed and that’s how I know it’s inevitable that in this universe, I will forever love you wrong.
I dream you’re a cashier in an ice cream shop and when you pass the ice cream cone over the counter, you wrap your hands around mine to make sure the cone doesn’t fall on the floor. Your hands are as cold as I remember them but in this alternative universe, they’re soft and alive and that’s all that matters to me. The ice cream is a farce, you just wanted to hold my hand. Your lips curl up at the edges and you look just as beautiful and radiant as I remember you. I don’t question how you’re still here, frozen in time, cold as ice.
You’re happy here, you tell me now that you’ve found me you’re at peace. You tell me you want to run away with me and in this universe I always say yes because I’m shy and sweet and I never have trouble trusting you, following you. In this universe I haven’t been abandoned, and you haven’t abandoned me in turn.
We love each other like it’s breathing.
Even in another world she is still pastels – all of the softest colors. But here, in this alternative universe, her laugh stays mine. She’s sweet as candy and the rounded curve of her cheeks as she smiles makes me sigh because I know put it there, I know I plucked the moon from the sky for her.
Even in this world she leaves (because I can’t imagine keeping her) but she stays mine and at the end of a long day she’s there waiting for me on a bench overlooking the end of the world. In this other timeline we are there together at the end, as we always wanted to be, unafraid to face terrible things together. Always better when we’re together.
And there’s no need to wake up from a nightmare in a universe we’re not dreaming in.
In this bombastic universe I love you out loud. I love you shouting off the rooftops. I love you in obnoxiously constant tiny bites that you never get enough of. I love you in secrets that I whisper to you when you wake up and instead of moving away from me, you look me dead in the eyes and smile. You never wanted any of that in this universe, you never wanted any of that out of me especially but in this new universe, this wild and free universe you could never get enough of it.
You could eat your fill of my love and always return for more.
Everything else about you is the same. You are perfect the way you are. All that changes in your stomach for me, your appetite for me. Your patience for me, me, and only me.
In a soft universe I know you and I love you.
Your story is etched into a part of my soul when we meet on a bus, your seat, facing mine. You’re thin and plain. Dressed smartly. Shoes pressed under the seat, heel to heel. Your long, thin fingers that wind their way up to a necklace, nervously running over the row of charms. You tug at them and worry your bottom lip at the same time.
Your eyes mirror mine and in this universe that’s all it takes. You spill your secrets to me, they pour over your lips until they are our secrets, until we’re merging into one.
You look like you are about to cry, eyes wavering and glossy, you smile so hard the bones in your face press skyward. I am a magic spell that repels your darkness. The sadness in you bursting forth as if it were cut our of your flesh, as if you were simultaneously holding and releasing it.
In that universe your story is mine as my story is yours, you do not disappear into a crowd after you give me a secret smile. In this universe your secret smile stays. And grows.
In the last universe at the end of the time and space, it was always going to be you. I don’t worry. I knew it would be you. The secret to love was always going to be alternative universes. Love is when someone looks deep inside you and sees the best things you could have been, and the best things you still could be. And when you look at me you see this. And when I look at you I see this.
But we choose to love each other here, in this time, in this space, we set ourselves to crash through our dreams and live in reality. And I would choose it, I would choose this universe freely as I would choose any of these universes.
I would splinter endlessly in and out of love with all that could have been and all that is. Delighted and frightened that one universe cannot contain me. Cannot contain all the love I have had and all the love I will have had because this is who I am.
But then again, in some other universe where I am alone with what am, I am at once loved and forgotten by you as well.