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Walking on Air

By
Love. It’s one of those things. It grasps you by the hand, looking back with a curious smile, and pulls forward. Its hair dangles, its legs glide. You look forward, confused for a moment, then happy. You run along, love at your side, blissfully unaware of the world around. It’s all that matters. It’s just how love works.

Every few days, the glimmer of sunlight – reflected off her glassy hazel eyes – catches my attention. And I freeze. Memories, like moments of vague awareness, wisp by, carefully examined by my lonely soul. And I yearn for her. I yearn for what I once had. It was not her that I was in love with. No, it was the idea – the idea of being forever united, of always having each other to hold. But she is no longer here, no longer preventing the rush of watery life from gliding down the pipes of endless abysmal darkness.

She was far from perfect, but my imagination had no trouble cloaking the imperfections of her human nature. Sitting in the newly constructed corner of my mind, she waits, staring at me with bold wanting. I observe her, sitting with her legs folded, shirt barely covering her midriff. Love, the shirt says, printed four times around the front, and an equal amount of times along the back. Smiling, she places her hands on the floor and rises. As she walks closer, the modest smell of shampoo fills my senses, consuming me. Her warm arms envelop me, and mine do to her the same. We stare at one another, and the world stares down at us. Heaven watches, awaiting the moment of pure, unrelenting, youthful beauty. A spark is emitted to the right us, and then another to the left, and another, until we are certain that destiny has brought us together. My head lowers, my lips search, and my soul eases. I kiss. Becoming aware of my closed eyelids, I open them, finding my lips resting on nothing but air.

In that moment, I miss her. I miss what we had, something beyond what I thought possible. She had become everything to me, but it wasn’t always like that. First love, some would say. But no, this was different. This was something that was never meant to be. This was not love at first sight.

The first time I looked into my love, the connection that later welded us together was not present. There is not much to recall about our first encounters, for they involved little more than two wandering entities, calling out, blinded by the prospect of impossibilities. One day, drifting in my passionate pursuit of happiness and peace, I found myself surrounded by pictures of her and her family. It was late in the year, and a girl, whom I lusted for dearly, had drawn me to the house I would soon visit obsessively. “A party,” my lustrous prize told me, “Why don’t you come?” So I went, drifting in and out of awareness for the entire night, narrowing my vision to encompass only those who I deemed “stunning”.

Later, as the flow of life emptied out the door, a thin line of under-thought remarks – “I’m sorry I have to go” and “It was a great party” – could be heard from around the corner. Finding myself sitting on a red leather chair, my vision widened again. Only a few were left in the room, which I then realized was of brilliant, scenic quality. To my right sat a cat, natural beauty coursing through its veins, with strands of black weaving in and out of the furry gray coat. Catching my eye, I looked left, and a dart of white ran past the doorway into the kitchen, disappearing as soon as my eyes rested on its puffy tail. A squeal erupted, spinning around my ears, forcing my hands, in an involuntary motion, to rise up and press hard against the sides of my head. Seeing the cages around me filled with mock tree branches on which to perch and feathers littering the bottom, I laughed quietly to myself, and my hands moved down to my lap once more. “It’s a circus,” I whispered to myself, not meaning for anyone else to hear. Getting up, I walked around, examining the beautiful house to which mine paled in comparison. The marble walls, large televisions, and professional design all seemed appropriate for the apartment. I sat back down, this time on the couch, my future love to the right of me. She put her legs up, resting them on my lap, and asked, “Do you mind?” Thinking of nothing better to say, I spoke the truth and told her, “No, of course not.” A few spaces down on the couch, someone called out, “She likes you.” But I, not having any interest in the one beside me, shrugged the comment off as frivolity.


Then I looked at her. She glared at me with eyes of golden wonder, seething frustration embedded within the veiled shadows. I shifted restlessly in my seat, hotness creeping up my body and turning my face into a fountain of flushness. Feeling the urge to leave, I said goodnight, took the elevator to the ground floor, and walked outside. Cool air rushed at me, transforming the strong aura around me into a soothing presence. Making my way home, only one thought crossed my mind.


It was not until the school year ended that I talked with her again. The start of summer always brings something new, something unexpected. The hot brutality of unending sunlight changes something inside, revealing the worst qualities hidden underneath. But it was not yet summer. It was late spring. I still don’t know why I invited her over that day; perhaps it was because I had given up on every other lustful pursuit, or simply because destiny willed it. Either way, something was initiated that afternoon, a fire ignited. “Never lie to me,” I told her. She nodded.


Spring turned into summer, and with it, the urge for freedom. Holding only forever fading memories, my feelings for her drifted away, and the burning embers of newly ignited fire were dampened. When fall arrived, the passion I had once felt remained little more than a distant memory. It was not without severe doubts though that I let go of her, for the ease I felt in her presence was unmatched. But I did let go, telling her I was no longer interested. Perhaps it would have been best to leave well enough alone, but with the sun gone – fading fast into winter’s chill – my interest was reignited.


From there, the blur of life took over in a manner resembling nothing short of awe-inspiring perfection. I loved it, every minute of it. In those months of fall and early winter, blindness engulfed us in a blanket of passionate bliss, covering the seams I felt, but refused to uncover. As winter began, the fire was left to sparkle in the dark night, nothing left to cover its constant consumption.


When the time came to exchange gifts, she was given a necklace, and I was given a watch. “I spent hours looking for it,” she assured me, and I believed her unquestionably. When I got home that night, I showed the watch to my mother. She took it, looked at it, and gazed into the box from which it had emerged. I sat down, head in my hands, rubbing the sleepiness out of my eyes. “Where did you say she got this from?” my mother asked. “Macy’s,” I responded, for that is what she told me. “Why?” I asked, and my mother showed me the Amazon coupon hidden deep in the box. I sat down on the couch, and said, more to myself, “No, that’s not possible”. I went to sleep that night, tossing restlessly.


When daylight broke, curiosity overtook faith. Searching, I found my way to Amazon’s website. Moving the mouse over the button labeled “Watches”, I stopped. I felt the smooth, silky plastic covering something I knew I ought to never touch. But I was too close. I clicked the button.


My head spun. I closed the window, covering my eyes. Pain boiled out from the depths of my body, piercing me from the inside out. Knives of hate and despair shot out, tearing the tissue that held my essence together. Words rung in my ears, “Never lie to me.” They twisted around, surrounding me in their fury and complexity. Calming down, I pushed the scene into the darkest corner of my mind. It was something I could never touch again.


Even still, I felt the same about her. It did not matter that weekly fights erupted between us, bringing us both to tears. Our first fight happened soon after winter break had ended, when the sun’s warmth started blazing once again. Something was said, although unintentional, that brought her anger. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “Nothing,” she responded, staring off into the distance – into some far off place – trying to hold back the rush of emotions that would surely break the dramatic element she was so desperately determined to keep. After classes ended for the day, she ran down the staircase, faster than I thought possible. My throat clenched, and I felt as though I was sinking into a frigid body of water – one so cloudy that it would never see sunlight below the surface. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t move. It was like my whole world stood at the end of that staircase, but I couldn’t reach it; my legs just wouldn’t move, for fear of falling.


Making my way to the elevator some minutes later, I found a tear running down my cheek. And then another. And another. By the time I was outside, my friends had gathered around me, concern embedded deep in their young faces. “You really like her, don’t you?” one asked. “Yes,” I said, “I love her.”


Soon, the happenings of our first fight became ordinary.


Then the day came when everything stopped. It was spring again, but the weather was chilly nonetheless. My phone rang, and I picked it up, looking at the message. Staring forward, my mind stopped working.

Sitting there, I deleted the text message that had almost brought me to tears. All the lies, all the sorrows, everything that had been poured into the abyss, suddenly sprung out, filling the room with pure, unrelenting life. And as I sat, watching the spectacular event unfold before me, I couldn’t help but smile.


It should have stopped there. But the fire, now let loose, would not stop burning. The hateful memories healed over a short time, patched up by renewed longing. We kissed again. We loved again. Things were normal again, back to the way there were in the fall.


Then the summer, and with it, a bed of lies so thick one could not help but become tangled in its sticky, unforgiving grasp. “Don’t worry,” she told me, “I went to the doctor.” Torn, I spent the afternoon wondering. If I agreed to her demands, the risk of destruction loomed ahead like a scythe of death, and if I said no, a darkened plague of hate would strike forth. I sat down, rubbing my eyes, head in a daze. Playing the scenarios over and over again, nausea took hold, forcing me to forget the situation until she knocked at the door. Walking over, my hand grasped the knob, and I stood there for what seemed to be an eternity. But in one motion, body overcame mind, and I stepped forward, twisted the lock, turned the knob, and opened what I never should have.


“It will be fine,” she said, “Trust me.” I argued, asking her what the difference was. She sat on the foot of my bed, while I lay with my head on a pillow. Getting up, she stared out the window, giving me just a few moments to my own. Thoughts of what would happen, and what could happen, and if this was the end, and if everything up to this point had been for nothing bounced off the walls of my consciousness, causing me to question what was once second nature. No, I could never do this to my family. No, this was one step too far. No, this was too much. Although I knew she would despise me, hate me, abandon me, my mind was made up. It was not worth my life, even though she was all my life was.


And then she walked over, getting on top of me, bringing her hand to my cheek. “Please,” she said, looking at me as though the world rested on my lips. Those golden eyes, full of life, glittering by means of no outside light, spoke to me, asking me, pleading with me. She brought her head down to mine, just inches away, and asked again, “Please?” Hot blood coursed through my body, bringing me to the edge of insanity, pulling me back time and time again. Splitting pain hit my head, putting me in a daze as she kissed me over and over and over again. “No,” I whispered, too low to hear, but she continued. A single steel arrow shot through me, shattering the pieces of my glassy protection in a brilliant sparkle of chaos. They fell, hitting the ground in silence, splattering their captured color along the walls in a myriad of perfection. Stars appeared above, and heaven looked down, awaiting the moment of pure, unrelenting, youthful beauty. I looked up, my head reaching half way, and saw two eyes peering out of the sky, disappointment embossed in their fiery pupils. They seemed to sing a song of regretful embarrassment, the notes fluttering down upon my forehead. My hand rose, drifting willingly to the stars above. This was it. This was what I wanted. Nothing more.

And then she said once again, in a voice full of lustful desire, “Please”. And the song faded. And the eyes were gone, retreating into the clouds. And the stars disappeared, their sparkle blending into the night. And in that split second, my mind was no longer made up.

Afterward, she rested her head alongside mine on the bed, breathing softly. But I was only there in body, my mind elsewhere. And suddenly it dawned on me that it was not because of her parents that she was unable to come over more often, and it was not because of her constant sickness that she was away at night. It was not because of her grades that she refused to love back in the way I so strongly felt about her. No, these lies were not true. Slowly, I lifted the covers up, seeing the seams of my bed splitting open, webs of unending deceit hidden within. My mind exploded, blackness boiling over into my very extremities. It was all over now. “Is anything wrong?” she asked. “No,” I said, “It’s nothing.”


I don’t know why I let it happen. She was all I knew at the time. Still, I feel her hand on my shoulder when I lay down at night. Still, I know what we had can never be. If not for the proceeding summer, if not for the cruel happenings to which words cannot convey, I would still be drifting in a sea of sightlessness. Never again will I let the summer replay itself. Never again will I trust so blindly. What happened in those few months of seething tension will never be spoken of.

And as my life unfolds, I will remember one thing. It’s impossible to see what the future holds, but what’s behind can be reason enough to walk on thin air.





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