My fox was sipping on her usual cappuccino with one

squirt of banana syrup. With her little mitten-like hand

she swept her red hair back and it fell down the length

of her torso. She saw me looking at her and smiled at

me. “How’s it going?” I said. She yipped something in

a language I could not understand. But I could tell

by the way she was backing up and showing me

her pointy teeth that she was interested. “I’m Chris,”

I said. Then she jumped back and trotted into the woods.

Maybe she was playing hard to get, or maybe she had

an unmentionable emergency. It didn’t matter. I took

off for my soul mate, following her tiny, delicate

footprints across the fluffy and generous snow. I tell

myself single females I’m attracted to become intimidated

by my multivalent intelligence and emotional honesty,

and that because of this I barely even get within ear shot

before they sense I want to be vulnerable with them.

Then I assure myself they keep watching me try for intimacy,

and are used to seeing me freeze with my mouth open,

my introductions sliding past hope like two pats of butter

in the microwave. But I can’t chat one up because I’ve been

trying too hard to be the me, who,

if I’m being truly honest, isn’t the mystery within mystery,

isn’t the darkness within darkness, but just like every other

guy who thinks he’s become too enlightened to be unwanted

or be rejected for opening with something as unoriginal as

how’s it going.