The Chameleon

Shelby Parks
5 min readSep 14, 2020

“You’re sneaky, you know,” she said, glancing at me sharply.

I stood there in silence, waiting for the avalanche of stories to erupt from her core. She had been boiling over for some time now, stooping around before the deepest thoughts were ready to be summoned.

“Tell me,” I said, “I am ready.”

At first you were colorful, as if you had swept me off my feet, awakening my eyes to the greatest adventure of my life. You cracked me open to the world, and my naive self was in awe. I tried to gulp it all, to savor every last ounce. The sweet nectar you dripped everywhere you went and I followed you like a bee.

This was an awakening if you will. The intensity of it all could not be hidden. It was sudden and brilliant and unimaginable. It was so much that I could not comprehend anything at all, so instead, I closed my eyes and felt the sensations of what you created and I leapt with faith into the unknown.

“I see,” I said, reflecting in deep thought, “but that was long ago, was it not?”

“Far and short, and long and near…isn’t it all the same?” She exclaimed. She jumped onto the couch, her feat dancing with emotion, trying to pick up on the words which swirled around in her head. But this was her, she needed to move in order to understand. She could not be still, for stillness killed her spirit.

Photo by Molly Mears on Unsplash

“And then…,” she stammered, “and then it all tumbled off into a deep cliff. Everything was heavy, and I could not move. It was as if my body laid beneath these boulders and all I could shift was the movement of my toes.”

“That small movement keeps you going, yes?” I inquired.

“Well yes, of course! But I wanted to feel the magic of being alive and no matter how hard I tried, more boulders kept falling upon me. And that’s when I began to let you start moving them. I was completely vulnerable to you. I trusted you not to hurt me. And baby, did we soar after. We sprung into the sky like two eagles. Our hearts exposed and a strength that was unparalleled. We dug each other out of the depth and reaped the rewards that were before us.”

“Ah yes, trust. We had befallen a lot,” I murmured.

“We did — — oh we did, didn’t we! Wow,” she said jumping off the couch and leaning out the window, one foot raised in the air, and the sun kissing her naked back. She turned over while half her body lay out the window, her nipples sipping in the sun and her head arched back with a smile. It was as if she was in the sky once again.

She limboed her way back in and sunk to the floor, “And then we fell. Hard. We were battered and bruised, and no matter what we used to mend ourselves, a new injury showed up each day.”

A tear shimmered down or face landing upon her ankle. Her eyes shifted back to an unknown place, far away, and her body lay crumpled like a ragdoll.

“And I know,” she added, “this was no different from the others. This was part of it, part of the whole. I remember you telling me before, long ago. I guess sometimes, it’s hard for me to remember.”

“My dear,” I said gently, “of course it is difficult. No one tells you about this piece. But it is necessary. You see that now, don’t you? Isn’t it just as beautiful as the others?”

Her shoulders rolled back slightly, exposing her dainty collar bone that told stories of her past as a dancer, delicate and strong. “Yes,” she said with more strength, this time looking directly at me, her eyes a brilliant blue, “yes, it was maybe even more beautiful than the others. Oh to feel the poison of the serpent and to rise from the fires…yes, beautiful indeed….but….but what about the apathy?,” she stammered.

“Dear, don’t you understand? The apathy is part of it. It is not wrong nor shameful. It simply is. Can you accept that? Can you shed yourself of the lies you have been deceived by and understand that there is no simple definition. Is a dancer any less beautiful whether she is performing, or practicing? Whether she is 7 or 87? She is the same, she simply has taken on different shapes and forms. She has changed over time. But, she is still the same. Let it evolve, and let it be. This too is a journey, and there shall never be one recipe. My child, this is the lesson.”

“Indeed,” she said, deeply staring at me, with a smile peeking from her face. She tilts her head to one side, allowing her hand to glide down her porcelain skin. “It’s a chameleon…. It’s love.”

“My child, you have arrived,” I said with a smile. “It will never be defined. The secret is that only you can ever know, and if you are lucky, if you are really lucky, you may share this secret with one other. And my darling, when this happens, don’t let go. Just remember, like a chameleon, love will take on many forms. Allow it to be, to exist, to take its many shapes and chapters. You will know when to stay and when to go, but do not mistake laughter and physical intimacy as the antidote of love for those tears and heartache, that longing…that too is love. And never try to bottle it up for it might just erupt and break, and what good would that do? It needs room to expand, and grow and evolve and change. We all do.”

She shuddered, remembering. “Let it be,” she said as if her tongue had whispered the sweet song of a summer’s wind.

She pushed her hair out of her face, and grabbed me on both sides gently, taking one last look before she placed me back on her nightstand.

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Shelby Parks

Harmonizing people’s relationship with themselves & the natural world through storytelling.