“I’m not sure what love is anymore.”
Midmorning heat from the Sun melted frosty dew, water drops pipping and plopping from ancient tree limbs onto the glacier’s mottled surface.
The gurgle of a nearby moulin lulled them into silence once again.
He reached over and touched his fingers on the top of her head. “Is this love?”
“Maybe. I mean yes, here in this moment.”
They held hands.
She continued looking down at a sedimentary rock, imagining its history.
“What is love to minerals frozen in time? Does a rock know love any more than the vapor trails we call clouds?”
He remembered standing under an apple tree on his grandparents’ farm, desiring to be as tall as his cousins who could leap and grab the lowest branch, pulling themselves up into the tree. He had to be lifted. What kind of love was that? What divided maturity and responsibility for younger siblings from a kind of numbness that comes with an early life full of tough lessons?
“If love is just a meme of a meme, a euphemistic cliche, how else have we led ourselves astray?”
The glacier rumbled under their feet in a low rhythm, as if music thumping in a bass box of a distant car was pulsing up through their soles.
“To you, love is just a generalised set of states of energy in motion.”
“To us both!”
“A ‘label,’ a ‘symbol.'”
“Is the beauty of this place just to you sets of liquids succumbing to the law of gravity?”
“This place, yes. The beauty, no.”
“Then what is love?”
“Love is the thing and the memory/anticipation of the thing, whatever that thing may be. You are love, because we share memories and anticipate sharing more memories together.”
“Surely, love can’t be the anticipation of pain?”
“Some say it is. Our subculture taught us that a father who passively watched his son accused of crimes against humanity, then systemically tortured and murdered is love.”
“True. Do I torture you enough?”
“More than I’ve let on. I know when you’re mad at me but play innocent, even dumb, to deny your emotional victory over me. That’s also love.”
“No doubt, sly fox!”
They swung their arms up and down to the rhythm of the glacier.
“Love is a musical instrument tuned to the vibrations around us. A lover, a parent, a friend hears music, everyone else hears noise or nothing at all.”
They nodded in agreement and ran as fast as they could across the glacier, sending small shockwaves into the crevices and cracks crunching under their crampons.