How the Homeless Funambulist and Lonely Somnambulist Met and Shared a Melon

It was the homeless funambulist that found me in that cold, snowless January, the immense ugliness of the rotted grass visible when it should have been hidden. For nearly two years I had been going about my life a virtual somnambulist (noctambulist, if you prefer ). I was, if you will recall, still cohabitating with the haptophobic strongman, rendered weak by his unconquerable fears. He and I passed through the various rooms of the house, careful not to bump elbows, no longer colliding at random. We had one of those implicit agreements not to remind the other of our existence within the confines of our dwelling. And yet, neither of us had taken the necessary steps to vacate. I fell deeper into my waking sleep, into my dreams - the only place in which I was felt, seen, heard.

It was during these same two years, he would confide in me later, that the funambulist became homeless. He was the youngest member of a family of tightrope walkers known the world over. Tragedy struck one sunny day in June, over Niagara Falls. There was, it seems, an unaccounted wind that day. It was most unfortunate for all that it blew its greatest breath just as the family was half way across the rope. One toppled, and the rest followed. All except the youngest, my funambulist, who had been sidelined with a broken toe, shattered the previous day by an unruly pachyderm. It was on that day that he took to walking the streets.

Several months later he found himself walking my street, though it was just another piece of pavement to him, with houses that were not his, families inside to which he did not belong. I was out walking as well, eyes open, not seeing, caught somewhere in between my dreams. Our paths crossed, our elbows brushed, our eyes locked.

"You look like home," he said simply, eyes still balanced on mine.

"And you resemble my dreams," I replied, unflinching.

He accompanied me to the store, and helped me pick out a cantaloupe, eye balling them for size, feeling them with his careful hands, inhaling them, contemplating their potential sweetness. At last we agreed upon the one. Pooling together the nickels and dimes from our pockets we paid for our melon, and headed back. As I entered the house that I once considered my home, he waited on the street that still felt like his. In a rush I threw open drawers, grabbing two spoons, a knife, and the sodium chloride. Our tools gathered, we walked on to the park.

He cut straight and down the middle. We scooped out the seeds, tossing them to the ground, wondering if one day a garden of cantaloupe might spring forth in that very spot. By now the snow had begun to fall, dusting our lashes, our hair, falling into our melon. Then came the fatter flakes--the unavoidable, the ones that cannot be ignored. And I closed my eyes and awoke, and he stumbled to me and steadied, and we caught the flakes on our tongues, our mouths open, frenzied now with the coolness of the snow and the sweetness of the melon.

About the author:

Elizabeth Ellen says yes to the universe. So far the universe has responded with a definite maybe.