I saw the dog in the park.
The elegant short-haired haunting between the trees. It just stared at me with its small round eyes, not giving away its intentions. At first, I thought it was the wind whistling through the branches that filled me with unease. But then I realized it was those eyes that made my stomach feel as if I had swallowed an icicle.
The dog didn’t really do anything, as if making a slightest suggestion of intention would tip the scale of reality and send us both plundering into an arbitrary horror. At first I didn’t move, but soon, the torture of an infinite moment felt like the bigger of two evils, and chaos, no matter how consuming, felt like an escape. So I took a step along the wire, feeling as the pillars shook and the horizon tilted, threatening to destroy any balance I’ve ever had.
Our eyes were glued together. Somehow I believe that is what kept me from falling. The cold windows suggesting infinity, showing nothing, yet telling so much, as if opening them would uncover a completely different world from the winter they reflected at me now. Once I moved, I didn’t dare stop, fearing that it would tear the world apart and throw it at me, killing me where I stood.
Out of nowhere, came the stone. Tripping broke the spell, and instinct betrayed my concentration, forcing me to look down into the abyss. The vertigo took over, as my eyes quickly went back to look for the dog, while I was grasping for the ledge.
But the dog wasn’t there. The dance with the enemy ended up leaving me in battlefield, blind to both the oppressor and the ally, to chew the bullets on my own. They felt sour, sliding quickly down my throat, spreading the virus into my cells. The virus called fear.
I fell. The ground didn’t hold me, but I kept falling, my hands incapable to grab what my eyes couldn’t see. The stone became a mountain, engraved with those two cold eyes, now so huge and overwhelming that I couldn’t look at them anymore. There was no more comfort of the escape, the windows were now caves leading down into the darkness that was no longer the dog, but a whole pack, a wave of dogs swallowing me, biting and scratching until there was no skin left to peel; no blood left to drink; no voice left to scream; just the bare heart, beating its way out of the rib cage.
Getting up didn’t end the vertigo. The park was a mess, spitting me out slowly, as I ran, yet moved no faster than a slug. My apartment building didn’t feel like a tower, the key didn’t feel like a solution, the door wasn’t a barricade strong enough to keep me in, or keep them out.
I couldn’t sleep. The sheets had short hair and sharp teeth, chewing me up all night, until morning arose in shreds. I lay in my bed, shattered, feeling that the sunlight couldn’t break through the veil that now held me tight in its grasp. My eyes attached to the ceiling, I realized there was no going back. When I tripped, my pockets emptied; my sleeves dropped all the cards I gathered there for years, and I was left a poor man without a cent to buy more time. The vertigo hadn’t only left me empty-handed, but it marked my path, leaving me without a choice but to go back to where it started; to seek out those windows and open them, and see the world they hide behind layers that my mind recognized only as pure terror.
When I arrived at the park, the dog was there. It waited for me at the exact same place as yesterday, as if it never really moved; as if it was a statue that had always been there. Our eyes met, and at first I panicked, fearing that I wouldn’t find the balance I did the last time. But as panic faded, I felt myself standing firmly on the ground. This time, the vertigo was distant; there was only a mild fear holding me by the hand, whispering to me. But it felt somehow familiar. Somehow pleasant. Suddenly I realized that there was no other place I’d rather be. The mystery of the dog was my own, and only I could solve it.
I moved, and the stones gathered around me. But I didn’t trip. I touched every one, walking past them, remembering the way I came. The dog showed no emotion; no fear; no intention to either run away or leap into my arms. It was all up to me. I approached it, looking deep into the windows of its eyes. I reached out and grabbed them, feeling their weight, and then pulled them wide open. The next moment, I saw.
I woke up the next morning on the floor. The sunlight was breaking through the shades on my window, and it made me squint for a moment. But then I got up, licked my paws, and walked around my room, feeling like I see it for the first time in my life. I left my apartment and walked into the street, feeling the wind lick my short hair. On four legs, I raced to the park, eager to drown into the tide of my flesh, so I could swallow the city and see it through my new eyes.
I saw the man in the park.