by Lekha Dey.
Years passed. I was seventeen. It was on the night of the misty moon on the blue beach that the party took place on the last day of school. Dave didn’t look at me. I wore the floral dress for him. I drank the fruity wine for him.
I had misty ideas about the love of my life. They fleeted like dreams, never settling. Dave? No he didn’t fit. Not really. The lover in the dreams loved.
He hated. He was horrible. Dark eyes that drilled holes into hearts. Smiles that said nothing and still silently, sleeplessly caused us sorrow. Hollow, hellish days of yearning for something that wasn’t there. Laying in bed throughout Saturday and Sunday, crying. Waking up on Monday morning. Sweet soap and silken shampoo. Pretty perfume and day dresses. Flowers, fruits? No, no. Not for Dave. Shorts and shirts, shredded like his tormented soul.
The bonfire burnt. Waves washed up and drenched feet. Drenched lovers. Sandals and slippers, shoes and socks, strewn around, got carried away by the ocean and once a pair, they disappeared, separately into the deep. Like lost living lovers. Like the in-love, in-crush boys and girls who will get tugged apart by the sea of time, of timing, after tonight.
“Why can’t we just get married?” the girl was saying, crying. The fired crackled. The boy’s eyes were intense, fire-flamed, drink-desired. All HE said, was “shhh” and she succumbed. “Why can’t we just get….”. “Shhh,” he said.
Dave was in the distant. Far from the fire. Into the sea. Into the ocean. With his girl. No one from our class. No one from our school. I would have watched their silvery-blue silhouettes as they fell into each others’ arms forever like a movie in which I played no part.
If the voice didn’t startle me.
“Let’s dance,” he said. The boy came and plopped himself down beside me on the sand in front of the bonfire.
The music was blaring.
“No thanks,” I said. He was in my class. And the last man I would want to dance with.
“I have always loved you,” he said. His beer spilled out of his can.
“That’s gross”, I said.
“What’s so gross about it?” he insisted. He flicked his hair from his eyes in a quick motion as though the gesture would floor me.
“I don’t like you at all,” I hissed.
“Because you suck,” I said and got up to leave.
“Why do I suck?” he said matter-of-factly as though he had heard that insult many times.
“Because you do,” I said.
I walked towards the food and wine bar on the other end of the rented beach house, covered in glass and light, where the party-people would spend the night. The next morning they would get into their cars and spread out in different directions of the country, the world.
When I returned with my fruity drink, the boy was still sitting there, his head down as the fire crackled.
Girls and boys, high as hell, were now dancing wildly or making out, making love.
I couldn’t see the silhouettes of Dave and his girlfriend. I scoured the dark horizon of the sea. No they weren’t there anymore.
I almost tip-toed towards the bonfire, which had been freshly-fed with firewood.
The boy was shaking silently. His head was buried in his knees.
I sat down beside him. I took a swig of my drink.
He stopped shaking. His head was down. He was listening to my silence.
“Why do you love me?” I said.
He was quiet.
He looked up after ages. And looked at me.
The fire was in his eyes. So was the sea.
“Sorry I said you suck,” I said. “I didn’t mean to….”
“Because you were her friend,” he said slowly, interrupting me, answering me. “And I loved her.”
I looked at him.
Ten years ago, when I was seven I lost my best friend.
No, she came back from being very sick. But she was not her.
She came back from somewhere else and she came back to somewhere else.
She never spoke again. She stared into the light that filtered through foliage outside the glass panes of the window of the school building. She smiled silently. The teacher called her softly. She always turned back to stare at the light outside. She nearly faded into the light.
For ten years she just faded.
“I loved her so much,” the boy said.
“She is still there,” I said. “You can tell her.” Then I paused. “You can go and tell her.”
“You remind me of her,” he said.
“So you love me because you love her?” I demanded.
A rush of revenge swept through me.
“But she’s not really here. And you remind me of her,” he pleaded.
“Shut up you freak,” I found myself screaming. “Why don’t you go and tell her you love her.” I was screeching. “Why don’t you just get lost and go and tell her?”
She was in an institution not far from the beach. Her brothers, now 24, 22 and 20, visited her. She looked through them as though through light. She smiled at the light beyond. Her parents had died in ten years. The brothers cried.
The wind swept away my screams. The boy got up and left.
The air was now cold. The fire was dying. Tears froze like drops of diamonds on my cheek.
“You look cold,” Dave said to me. He had walked up to the bonfire. He was standing over me. “Here.” He stretched out his hand. I held it and got up. Sand clung to my dress. I dusted it off.
“Nice dress,” he said as he slipped his hand around my waist.
“Where’s your girlfriend?” I said.
“Right,” I said.
He laughed. “Oh, her. Yes, she drove off. She lives around here. She is a lifeguard on the beach.”
I was staggering.
“Hey, you’re drunk,” he said whispering in my hair. “Let me walk you to your room. You know your room?”
“No. I forgot,” I said. We laughed.
I leaned on his shoulder. He carried me into his room.
I fell asleep on his bed. At night I dreamt. There was scary sunlight. And an ancient, abandoned meadow, as mellow as the past. And my seven-year-old friend looked at me and whispered something.
I woke up saying, “let go.”
(To be continued)
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