The Lover


The lover loves the object. This object can be anything. A pretty girl, an antique book with crumbling binding, even a cat. Anything, really.

The lover pours his love into the object.

The lover has selected the object from the world, but in loving it, he has changed it. By pouring his love into the object, he has changed the object. He has changed the pretty girl, he has changed the cat; he has changed the antique book, with his fingerprints all over the pages, with his annotations in the dusty margins.

He has changed the object and made it mutable.

And by changing it, it is no longer the object that he originally selected. But can he put it back? How can you just put a thing back in the world? …Revolving around senseless streets, he finds the used bookstore where he originally purchased the book. It is still there. He even finds the spot where the book once lay in the shelves — the bookstore is quiet and still; no one even enters it very often. He sees the spot where the book lay on the shelf for years; its image still marked by a reverse pattern of dust, the dust outlining where the book used to be.

…But to just put the book back?

The elderly bookseller peers at him from over the frames of the glasses. What is the lover doing? He looks suspicious, standing there. He has the book in his backpack. But it does not look like he is returning anything. He is standing there, acting secretive and afraid. The bookseller scowls. It does not look like he is returning; he looks like he is stealing. He looks like a criminal, a common thief, standing there in the bookstore for no reason like that.

The lover leaves the store, with this book still in his backpack. He goes back to his apartment, where the girl is, and the cat is. He removes the book from his backpack and puts the book on the table. The girl is there. The cat is there.

He frowns at the book.

Now he realizes this thing that he should have realized all along. He cannot just put the book back, cannot return it to the store. That would be cheating — and anyway, it didn’t look like he was returning; it looked like he was stealing.

Now he realizes this: the book has changed and cannot go back to where it was. Also, he cannot just put the girl back. The girl has changed and cannot go back to where she once was. And also — a terrifying thought — the lover himself cannot go back. He has changed. He cannot go back to where he was before.  

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