I knew her from the beginning of my consciousness. That time when things started to matter, when dreams started to take shape, when laughter started to feel good and tears started to have meanings. She was the girl with pig tails in my first grade class. The one fairest of all. She wore the nicest dress, looked always clean and fresh and had the confident smile of beauty and privilege. Her name was L’Ouriam. By the third grade, she had told me that she was named after the town her European grandfather came from. It was to remind him of the home he left, the memories he would always live by and the beauty that she would always personify. I never met her grandfather. And she barely knew him. She remembered the weather worn face with scraggly beard and his bear hugs. And how he fondly called her my L’Ouriam. Other than that, he was that old white man who ventured into the unknown world and found his peace.
Her family lived in the biggest house of the town, the only one made of hardwood and stone, surrounded by a picket white fence. It was not a menacing fence that was supposed to drive intruders out but a fence to coral order and to protect what was treasured. I was never threatened by that fence nor did it have any significance until Nana Munti pointed out to me that the little rich girl I was born to love live in the big house with the white fence.
Privileged, yes. But she was still a child who could not refuse the refreshing waters of the cascading waterfalls and the rushing river. That was where we grew up. Playing in the river, swimming to our hearts content. We started in our nakedness then graduated to shorts then wet t-shirts. Summers passed in heat and rapid succession until she showed up the summer after third year high school wearing a bathing suit. I was a man then with a raging desire that the cold water could not suppress. She was not a friend anymore that I could have innocent fun with. Being near her, accidentally getting into contact with her would send me to dizzying heights then pull me down crashing with a frustration I could not comprehend. I could not look at her anymore with honesty. I had become the fiend she must detest. So I retreated to my little house, the little world where I belonged, the poverty of my youth.
I would take glances when she was not looking, holding her face in my mind that I might go through the rest of my day in a euphoric dream of being with her. She would catch me and smile. The smile that made me curse the circumstance of my birth. The smile that made me miserable. I felt then, the pain of life’s unfairness and cruelty. Of fate’s tempest and the ruthless debasement of affection. So I avoided her. And tried my best not to look at her nor acknowledge her presence. I skipped school for a week and sought solace on the undisturbed shore of the sea that led to the unknown. Nana Munti found me and as always understood what I must do: go back to earth and live the life I was born for.
I went back to school on a rainy day. There was comfort in the warm rain, even peace. Acceptance of one’s destiny could cure all the ills of the world. Not everybody could be kings. I saw her by the school door not mindful of the rain. She stood stoically and looked at me with a burning rage. She managed a “why” through her tears. I did not answer. I trembled and let all the known pain go through me. Because I love you, I said. I caught her fall and we cried torrents to make our pain go away. Then I kissed her with all the dreams and desires I would ever have. All the pent up longing and wanting relayed by passion uncontrolled. I tasted her sweetness as I ventured into immortality while wishing for death. There was no feeling purer nor stronger. Only death could complete me then. I held her longer than tomorrow. I loved her more than I would love anybody. In this life or the next.
March of our senior year would remain my life’s curse. She knew I was leaving even before I said a word. The questions that can not be answered remained buried in despicable graves of self-loathing. Kindness would have been death before goodbye. But pain ground life in a slow perverted dance of the damned. I had nothing to offer. I had nothing for her. Not even a promise. We stood in the dark holding each other until the sun broke us apart. Her tear stained cheeks reflected the orange glow of the saddest day in my life. I was an orphan paying for my sins in my previous life. I deserved all the agony and the pain. I would always be alone.
She asked me to say something to cushion the hurt. She asked me to utter a quote that she would remember what we had. ” I loved you before we even met. I love you now in the most painful of farewells. I will love you long after I have turned to dust.” She kissed me as tears let hope and dreams waste away. I disengaged from her like a feather falling from a soaring bird. Nothing more.
I would continuously delete her from my consciousness only to be brought back in my dreams. The dreams were so sweet, I could live a hundred years. But sleep would pass and I would trudge the broken glass lined roads of reality with bare feet. The deep wounds would never heal.
“I love you, L’Ouriam”.