Many years later, Larry would look up at the stars squinting through his cage in the lizard exhibit and wonder what Paula was doing. Every day he dreamt of those days she had fed him peaches by hand, the stringy yellow flesh that flashed before his eyes, and the sweetness on his tongue. And every night he dreamt of the scent of her skin. But there was no going back. That day, so long ago — how could he ever wipe it from his memory? He should never have left. He should never have fallen in love. She told him too. She warned him there is no such thing as lizard people. People can’t be with lizards. Lizards can’t be with people. He didn’t listen. Genomes, DNA, stem cells … His research was unending. He said, sooner or later, science would catch up to their desire. He would go to university, earn an MBA, go into business, earn a good living, they would buy a house, have lizard kids, eat lizard food, bathe in the sun, and generally live happily ever after. He believed it.
Lately in his dreams the smell of peaches was overtaken by the scent of metal bars. That sickly evanescent smell metal only releases when baked by the midday sun. Every now and then as the people flooded by his cage he thought he caught a waft of her hands. But that was the past, he told himself. She was gone. The zoo was his home now. And Paula belonged back in that world he could never again submit to, never again taste, nor ever again allow himself to see anywhere but in the ethereal world of the past and dreams.