The minute I heard my first love story I started looking for you not knowing how blind that was, lovers don't finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.
“Within a single second you can lose everything...”
The voice came out of the darkness, and with it the acknowledgment that what was said were words I would soon deem true. For when you have love you take it for granted, and when you don’t you tend to forget the meaning.
Can you not remember?
Are you still blind to the truth within your soul?
The darkness was gone and with it the guttural voice. I had my arms clasped tight around my waist to protect myself from the chill of a persistent summer breeze.
I wasn’t scared. I wasn’t confused.
I knew this was a memory.
Why hadn’t I thought to wear my thick red winter coat? It might have been summer in England, but that didn’t mean that the summers allowed for a thin cotton cardigan over a strappy white vest. This wasn’t a cool evening in Africa!
With a shiver I glanced behind me to where an ancient stone castle loomed. Its windows and turrets lighting up the night magnificently as, like a Jackson Pollock painting all sorts of colours splattered the deep indigo sky.
I knew the colours would be bright, much too bright for someone like me, and so in preparation I narrowed my eyes, like one might if they were about to stare into the sun. The fireworks whooshed, spitting into the sky with a loud boom before fizzling out and staining the darkness with leftover sparkle.
I widened my eyes in surprise when the colours were neither bright nor painful. This memory was from before my time which could only mean that the girl now gazing up and down the main street was not me.
I was intruding on the memory of another....
Or are you?
The disembodied voice was back. Deeper now. Closer.
But still I remained calm and choosing to ignore him I studied a copper fountain that stood in the centre of the quaint town square. My eyes trailed the murky water that gushed monotonously from the muzzle of a war horse. Its rider proud astride the stallions back while both of them remained ignorant to the interesting shade of turquoise that tarnished their silhouettes. Clearly this fountain had been here for a very long time, longer than the town it rested in perhaps? Or was I now just getting ahead of myself?
With a shake of my head I tried to focus but something wasn’t right. I was anxious, as if a part of me had wandered off into the crowd and was now lost like a small child. A crowd of people passed me by, none of them looking my way, each of them absorbed in the lover or family member beside them. My anxiety grew like a soapy liquid about to push through the circle of a bubble blower. The crowds chatter breeding as more and more people arrived.
My throat grew tight, my eyes stung. I was about to explode.
Where was he?
Did he not realize the unease he was creating that now rippled throughout my body?
I tightened my arms around my shoulders, digging my fingers into the thick skin covering my shoulder blades and breathed in deeply. With round eyes I lifted my chin so that my face was align with the sky.
I gasped. Without the fireworks the crushed velvet night was as deep and dark as a burnt out star, and in that moment hundreds of vivacious flaming balls of gas were leaving streaks of light in their wake as they raced across the canvas that was our galaxy.
Despite myself a tiny laugh fizzed out from between my lips and like a tipsy teenager I embraced the enthusiasm brought on from witnessing my very first shooting star. Like a bird before flight my arms widened beside me and I twirled straight into a rigid chest.
Instead of fleeing with my tail between my legs and an embarrassing trail of apologies in my wake, I grinned. Closing my eyes and leaving my head to rest where it had landed on the soft fabric of his jacket that smelled of peach scented fabric softener because he was the one I had been waiting for, my missing piece. I didn’t have to see him to know it was him. My soul recognised his, for they danced to a song only they knew. A secret that’s rosy fingers slipped through the first crack of dawn its whispers holding the true meaning of the word humans came to know of as love.
With my nose still pressed to his hooded jacket I inhaled, breathing in his unique briny scent. The smell tickled as my mind registered the memory of spring sunshine and frothy milk. It might not be the best smell to anyone else but to me it was home. I wrapped my arms around his waist, sighing with pleasure as he mimicked my movement. I lifted my head so that our eyes and lips could meet.
It was always interesting to see what shade his eyes would be. I had given them the nickname of moody eyes because his eyes were always different depending on his frame of mind. Tonight they were the colour of his content – a swirling mix of winter grass green and hazel brown.
“I saw it, my first shooting star,” I told him before adding with a shrug, “well first few hundred shooting stars, and it was more like if someone had taken a pin to a piece of black hardboard and then quickly repaired the holes, they were moving so fast.”
He laughed and with it my heart clenched, seizing up with a sharp pain. Was I having a heart attack? I couldn’t be because the pain wasn’t part of the memory. It was my own, but why?
I had no idea my forehead was crinkled with thought until his broad lips pressed against the wrinkles of skin, smoothing them with a gentle caress. “I take it the meteor shower started without me then?” he asked.
“I suppose, but I can’t see anything else so far,” I answered burying my head into his warm chest as the wind blew violently stirring up bits and pieces of debris on the cobblestones beneath my black ballet pumps. I rubbed at my arms in an attempt to tame an eruption of Goosebumps.
“I’m sorry I was late. Here.” He pulled away from me unzipping his jacket and shrugging his arms from the sleeves so that he could wrap it around my shoulders.
I pushed my own arms into the sleeves and smiled as his body pressed close to mine, his hands resting against my hips. I whispered I love you, my heels lifting so that I was balancing on my toes as I placed my lips on his. He tasted of strong coffee and weak cigarettes.
“I love you too. I always will, forever,” he replied, his voice husky with meaning.
I was about to respond with never forget, when I heard a distorted sob. It was like the sound had travelled through a tunnel. I had never heard anything that raw and pained. My heart contracted painfully for the second time reminding me that this wasn’t part of the memory but my own reaction to it, however, I could not place the source of the sob for, like me, it too did not belong in this recollection. It was the kind of sob that could only result from an immeasurable pain as if their very heart and soul had been brutally ripped away from them.
It was now that I grew worried.
Where was the voice that brought me here and what did he want?
“Are you there?” I whispered.
The darkness was back. I could hear heavy breathing. I could smell vanilla scented candles burning out, and then he spoke, his voice a growl.
It is time you remember...
I was staring at the shadow of a distorted monster on the ceiling of my Camden apartment. It was my own breathing I had heard and the smell came from the candles on the antique Parisian chest of drawers in the corner of my room. I sat up, my brown eyes scanning the area around me, but there was nothing out of the ordinary in my room a part from the creepy glowing affect the dying wicks were making inside the clear glass candle cups.
I hadn’t lit those. They were for show.
I swivelled my body so that I could grasp at the switch for my bedside lamp with clammy hands and fingers that slipped against the plastic. Tears were streaming over my cheekbones and into my open mouth. I licked away the saline and dabbed at what remained of the tears on my cheeks, a glistening drop landing atop the tip of my index finger. I stared at it as if it were some sort of make believe creature I had never thought to exist until it lost its form and broke along with something in my heart.
It was the first dream I had had in four years, since before I learnt that I was different...