image courtesy of Steven and Billy Blaise Dufala
In exactly eleven months we will split paths. You will forget me, and I will not forget you. I can’t help feeling a little sad, because despite everything, I will miss you very much.
We split paths long ago in our hearts, or at least you did, one year ago, but the finite and physical distance will certainly make it more real. Swallow any last crumb of hope.
And I’m afraid, K. I’m afraid of meeting someone kind, someone who will understand and accept me for who I am, but I’m afraid of never being able to smile or fall in love with him because I would always be thinking of you.
I’m afraid of locking my heart, bars and all, because it still shrinks with longing for you.
I think you will do well without me, though.
I can see you in a prestigious university, roaming across the campus grounds with your soft, soundless step.
Your hard black eyes will soften as you cross the library and jot down notes and calculations on your favorite subject, because for all your shyness and the way you deny it, you are clever. (Remember you once told me that reading our Economics textbook was as fun as reading a novel?)
You will dance to the music of a different life, find yourself in the arms and the love of different girls. They will write you stories and poems, maybe better than mine, but none quite as heartfelt.
I can see your fingers play her the same song you played for me.
You appeared in my dreams yesterday, your face pale and your eyes ghostly as anthracite as we walked down a valley of purple mists and deep gravel together.
We walked down until the pebbles piled up to our chins and we were drowning in the thick fog, which enveloped us like a thin sea and made your outline faint and shadowy.
The moonlight shone bright white over us as your voice drifted toward me in the darkness: “I’ve missed you, Esther.”
That’s when I woke up, heart aching.
That’s when I knew it was a dream.
Because I knew you would never, ever have missed me.
Or even if you had, you would never have told me.
image courtesy of uncyclopedia
The girl scribbled narwhals and unicorns on the peripheries of her glittery purple notebook, but her eyes were fixed steadfastly on the boy sitting two rows away from her. Dark eyes, tightly compressed lips. She could have traced the lines of his nose and the hollows of his cheeks with her eyes closed, as sailors knew how to trace the paths of the stars, because she had watched him so many times, wondering, wondering. She watched him scratch down calculations with his pencil. He erased a number, changed his mind, and rewrote it. He looked up and caught her eye, and blushing, she looked hurriedly back down at her notebook.
Once upon a time there lived a white narwhal and a unicorn. They both had horns, long spirals of smooth, hard swirls lacquered glossy as seashells. Their horns had grown from bitter roots of pain in their hearts, but had sprouted from their heads as symmetrical shapes of beauty. When they looked into each other’s eyes and understood the unspoken tears that had given those horns birth, they understood each other. And they felt that that painful tugging of heartstrings that humans call the beginning of love.
She watched him push himself back from his chair, stretch as he got up. Her heartbeat quickened. She leant over her notebook, but her words had stopped flowing. Only the thick pound of blood in her ears. When she looked up, he was walking toward her. Midway he stopped, turned around abruptly, and circled the room as if hesitating. Please come, she prayed. Please, please come to me. After circling the classroom slowly three times, he swerved and came toward her.
“Did you finish solving all the math problems I gave you yesterday? Were my notes helpful?”
She looked up quickly and smiled at him. “Thank you,” she said. “They were really very helpful.”
“Do you have it with you right now?” he asked.
“In my locker. Why? Do you need it back?” She jumped eagerly to her feet.
“No!” he blurted. He blushed. “I was just…wondering…”
He turned and walked quickly away. Their fragile, shining one-minute conversation was over. He talked like this to her every day – every word a warmly glowing bubble of joy which burst and shattered into invisible fragments as soon as he turned on his heel and walked away.
One day the girl looked at his desk, and he was not writing. He was not solving questions. Instead, his head was in his hands, and he was shaking. The girl did not think. The girl acted. She rose to her feet and went to him first – for the first time. She touched his shaking shoulders.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
He looked up, but his eyes were cold and as far away as a distant planet. “Obviously,” he said, his voice clipped and terse. Obviously meant Shut up and leave me alone. But the girl loved him, and so she heard, I’m hurting. I need you. Please help me.
“Won’t you eat lunch?” she asked.
“No. I’m not hungry.” He scraped his chair forward and looked away.
She walked downstairs with a heavy heart. A boy adorned with pimples and a clean white smile semaphored her from the entrance of the cafeteria. “Buy a glass of lemonade!” he called. “Only one thousand won a glass! Cold and delicious!”
She bought two cups.
Back in the classroom, she placed the cup carefully next to the boy, who had buried his head into his arms now, sliding down deeper as if trying to be swallowed up by the dusty classroom floor.
“If you won’t eat lunch at least have something to drink,” she begged.
“Oooooooooooooh,” squealed a gaggle of girls and boys in the classroom. “Ro-maaaance.”
The girl wanted to hit them. What did they know about romance?
“I don’t like lemonade,” the boy said calmly. He pushed the cup gently away and got to his feet. “I appreciate it, though.” He walked out of the classroom, and the untasted lemonade quivered lemony yellow and clear in the filtered light.
The girl did not run after the boy. She pursed her mouth around her straw and sucked cold lemon water. It tasted bitter, like rejection. She tried hard not to look hurt, even when kids shifted to glance at her. Her face stiff with the effort of indifference, smooth as riverbed sand, she drifted slowly back to her own seat and picked up her pencil.
But the horns that had drawn them together split them apart again. When they pulled close with love and longing, the narwhal’s horn impaled the unicorn’s heart. The unicorn’s horn dug into the narwhal’s flesh until blood flowed plentifully, bathing them both in red. And they both died, saying to each other, “We are not a metaphor. Not for anybody. Not for us. But we did try.”
To my future wife.
Hi, hello! I’m in the sixth grade of elementary school.
As I’m practically a man now, I realize I must begin to think about what kind of wife I will marry when I grow up.
You will probably be very kind, and believe in Jesus, because that is my ideal type.
And you must be very good at piano, so when I sing hymns, you can play for me, and my five sons will play guitar for me backstage. Five sons are good, don’t you think? I hope my sons will grow up to be fine, strong men like me. We will be a very musical family.
I can’t hit my sons very well, because I understand their feelings too well. I’ve had a lot of experience that way. So can you scold our sons for me instead?
I hope you have a lot of property so we can build a big house.
I don’t care much for appearances, as long as you don’t look like a mangled dog.
When our children grow up and marry like I want to marry you,
We will move to the country and visit many beautiful places, taking photographs of ourselves for memories. Ah! I don’t like taking pictures, but I will take them with you for our memories.
By the way, I’m not even sure if you exist or not. Because I might not even marry. I might be martyred for my beliefs instead. I think that life would make me just as happy.
Um. I thought this letter would be very hard for me to write, because I can’t imagine how you look like or what your personality is like. But, when I picked up my pencil, I found unexpectedly many things to write about.
Have good health and wait for me until we meet.
Then that day, my future wife, I will write to you again: I love you.