Love Violently, Kill Tenderly

June 10, 2010
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There’s just something about that girl. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I can’t help but be driven into madness by her. I have always considered myself a gay man, yet this one female among the billions on this earth, she just won’t let me be. It’s not as if she follows me around. To be honest, it’s quite the opposite. But from the very second since I glimpsed her face, she’s been screeching around my head in that angelic voice of hers, and I can’t get enough of her perfectly angry notes for some odd reason.
I remember quite vividly the first time we met. Not that we ever introduced ourselves. God, I still don’t even know her name. It was at the town fair, and she was buying ice cream. It was a hot day, and her hair was wet from the water balloon toss. Cool little rivulets of water curved down her slender neck, and my heart melted, dripping off my ribcage to pool at my feet. For half a second, her eyes slid to the left just enough that I imagined her winking at me. My mind flooded open, and my inner eye saw her stripping off that damp t-shirt, letting the strawberry fudge sundae she held drip down her neck in the heat, down her chest and caressing her curves just so. She licked a bit at the corner of her mouth, an invitation, smiling seductively and murmuring to me. “What the Hell are you staring at, Nate?” she asked, suddenly speaking in a harsh male voice. The vision was gone, another heat shimmer lost in the crowd. My boyfriend punched my arm and she gave me an incredulous look before turning to her friend and walking off. I ran.
Jeremy, my boyfriend, told me the next day he’d searched the whole damn fair for an hour trying to find me. He was angry, but had that concerned look he got in his eye every once in a while. “You just disappeared on me!” he hissed, practically jogging beside me to keep up as we walked to school. “Where did you go?” he insisted when I didn’t answer. I’d been silent the whole walk, brooding and thinking of her. Her hair was so smooth. I wondered what it would feel like to stroke it and wrap a strand around my finger. I wondered if she went to our school, and if we had classes together I’d never known about. “Hey.” Jeremy’s arm on my shoulder stopped me.
I looked up with glazed eyes, smiling. “What, Jer?”
“Something’s up. You’ve been acting really weird since you ran off.” He sounded like a stern parent. In that second I wanted to punch him, break his nose, make him bleed. He didn’t understand how I felt. No one did. They didn’t know how confused I was because some beautiful bitch I didn’t even know came crashing through my mind like a tornado and ripping it up. Tornado. That was a good name for her. When I found her again, I’d whisper that in her ear.
“I’m breaking up with you.” My mouth said without permission. I’d been thinking those words since the fair, but I’d wanted to save them for a time I could really make him hurt by saying them. It was twisted of me, but he had to pay for making me look away and lose her in the crowd. That was unforgivable.
He looked at me for a few seconds like it was all a joke before my silence told him the truth. It was near impossible for me to keep from laughing as his smile slid away and his eyes widened. “Two years gone... just like that?” he whispered, drawing closer to me.
“We never clicked.” I answered. It was true, I had never felt that instant flame she had lit inside me with Jeremy. He was just a friend. He didn’t matter in the end. All I needed in life was food, air and another glimpse at her. I was sure he would understand that I had decided we weren’t compatible. “I’m going to be late. Call me when you get over me and we might hang out.” I told him, striding off towards the school, humming the jaunty tune the ferris wheel had been playing at the carnival yesterday. It really was all for the best, I told myself. He wouldn’t be led on and I wouldn’t have to pretend to love him like I loved her.
I frowned, pausing for a second. I loved her? I lusted for her every second of my life, but love was something that came with friendship and years of knowing a person. I couldn’t love her till I knew her, at least her name. That was when I realized it was paramount I find her and make her mine, show her how much we needed to learn to love each other.
I turned in a daze to face Jeremy, still standing stunned on the sidewalk. How could I focus on loving her when I had this thing following me, looking like a kicked puppy? I smiled and walked back to him. He smiled back and opened his arms for a hug. Of course he’d do that. He was a fool. How could he think I’d still pretend to love him while she was alive? How could he be selfish enough to underestimate true love and hoard me for himself? I grabbed his forearms, wrestling them to his sides. There was a brief moment of panic in his eyes as I gripped him, and then it was gone, spiraling out into the busy street at a push from me. Brakes screeched, blood splattered a stranger’s windshield, and that which had kept me from my future lover was gone. It was all I could do to keep from smiling.
I cried at the funeral, and comforted his family. I wore the black and the depressed mask for weeks. I was obliged to, after all, my boyfriend had tripped on the curb and gotten run over. People whispered apologies to me, and I wondered as I accepted them why no one congratulated me. I had shown true bravery that morning, sacrificed all that I had for true love. I was a hero for eliminating obstructions in my pursuit of the noblest of human traits: love. Not many people could do what I did, but instead of complaining, I schemed.
The first month after Jeremy’s accident, I searched. It was natural for me to want solitude after a tragedy like what I’d been forced to witness, and searching desperately for memories of my loved one (oh how I hated to call him that) was an all access pass to the school records. Yearbooks, personal files, GPAs, school clubs, and still, my poor deprived eyes lacked any sight of her. My ears whined in the silence of the school library for any whisper of her name, but none came. Deep in my stomach, I began to feel the seeds of doubt and guilt. Would I ever find her? Was she lost, and I doomed to chase her shadow till my death? How could I have let her get away? Why couldn’t I have acted sooner? I would return home sullen each day, disappointed and angry. The great romanticist poets hadn’t lied when they wrote that love was painful.
Sometime around a month and a half after the fated day I stumbled upon the most seductive creature on earth, the thought crossed my mind that I may never actually meet her. While I liked to consider myself a strong-willed person, once the seeds of doubt were planted, they would not be uprooted. The days leaked by without a sign of her gorgeous face. The April showers on my window slurred any attempt at happiness, and when May rolled around, the rain had brought no flowers to speak of. For the first time in years, I had grades that could have gotten me grounded if my parents hadn’t thought it was my natural reaction to Jeremy’s death.
That blonde bastard. If he hadn’t punched my arm that day, I would have been able to catch her, to get a better look at those brilliant green eyes. She may have even let me hold that slender, elegant hand of hers. Already my brief memory of her was dimming. Was she five seven or five eight? Was her hair cropped or worn in a ponytail?
I raked my fingers through my messy black hair and gritted my teeth, staring at my wall after another sleepless night. I hated how much she was tormenting me, and loved her for it more than my very life. I would drift off to sleep and a voice sweet as honey would call my name. Dreams would finally take hold and she would be dancing through them, setting fire to all thought that didn’t involve her. I could feel her presence humming somewhere just beyond my reach, her heart beating in slow slumber just a few houses down, just another town over, just close enough to tease me.
When I looked in the mirror, a sallow, bitter face stared back. My blue eyes looked like the flag, white and blue streaked with red, rimmed with smoky sleepless bags. Food turned to sawdust in my perpetually dry mouth as I imagined how sweet her peaches and cream skin must taste. Her intelligent, lighthearted smile flashed before me at every turn. Doodles of her naked form found their way onto the margins of every piece of homework I cared enough to do. I could feel my life slipping away, lost in her bright, starry eyes.
No, not slipping, I told myself. I am melting into her. Our lives are becoming one, and we are becoming closer. Months of searching has done nothing, but what can mere humans do to interfere with love’s way? Somewhere she is dreaming of me, and our paths are spiraling towards each other. We are destined to meet, and to fall in love. I am destined to feel her smooth caresses at last.
My logic seemed mad, even to me. I was feverish with love, and despite my dizzying visions of her, I would have no other illness than this infatuation. She was my virus and my medicine, my blood cells, my air, my very essence. My thoughts filled me to burst, and I felt if one more image of her perfect smile or lush lips crossed my mind, I would explode.
Another month passed, school let out, and if possible, I was even more in love with her. Hope had long since been eaten away by doubt, but every fiber of my existence was still tied to that rare and terrible beauty that had stolen my soul. Under a sizzling summer sky, I began to realize that unless I could find her, I would have no purpose in my life. I had killed my ties to reality when I killed Jeremy. My family had long since given up reasoning with me, my friends who had heard me muttering to myself in the weeks after Jeremy’s death were terrified of me, I didn’t even know myself anymore, only a burning passion for her. Hours spent scouring the town’s popular hangouts for her only led me to tearing my hair out. All but physically I was a ghost, a spirit tormented by a love that burned out of control.
It was on a sticky hot July morning that my hollowed out shell of a body decided to succumb to the painful longing in my mind. It shuffled through the kitchen, up the stairs, into my parents bedroom. Trembling, bony fingers unlocked my father’s desk, clammy skin came in contact with the warm metal of the family revolver. I wasn’t quite sure exactly what I was going to do, but I knew it would be done on the old fairground, that spot of hallowed earth where I first laid eyes on an angel. Lack of sleep, food and human company had somehow driven me to think that perhaps if I were dead, she would die too and we’d have an eternity to love each other. In a numb fog I slipped on my Converse, threw on a hoodie despite the sweltering heat, and began the three mile walk to my destination. I was shivering violently, even in my cocoon of clothes, and my heart was beating so fast it tickled my gag reflex. The gun was loaded, I had checked. Holding that much power in my fingers made me feel dizzy. If I wanted, I could shoot myself. I could shoot a stranger. I could hold the weapon above my head and the world would fear me, give me anything I wanted. Maybe they would give me her, perhaps she would be shoved out of a side street as a sacrifice to me, and I would spare her like King Kong spared Ann Darrow. But that beast had died defending his true love.
And so would I... I thought, gripping the gun tighter in my clenched fist and quickening my pace. About a mile till I reached the field where I’d finally be united with my love. I would leave my body, and follow the winds through walls and alleys till I found her. I would swirl around her like a breeze and watch her mature. She would grow even more beautiful, and when her time came, she would open her eyes on the other side and see me bathed in angelic glow, ready to fall in love with her till the end of time. It was foolproof. I realized I was smiling to myself and looked up to check my progress.
My heart stopped and I let out a strangled cry. My body tensed and slacked and flew and sank a mile into the ground all at once. I was blind and saw everything, the senses that had abandoned me in misery came flooding back, for there she was. Not thirty feet from where I was standing. She was bent over a garden, tenderly stroking the petals of a newly budded tulip. Her hair was long after all, and she had worn it in a ponytail swept up from the base of her slim neck. Her cheeks were flushed just right in the hot sun and as she straightened, I felt as if my soul were a puppet attached to strings in her cheerful smile, lifted to new heights by her presence. Her emerald eyes cast diamonds on the sidewalk, reflecting the hottest suns and the coldest moons in a single glance my way. Her slim fingers slid down her sides, brushing away some dirt and teasing me unbearably as her hands came to rest on the most perfectly curved hips I’d ever seen. Thousands of women I must have laid eyes on in my life, and the same number of men, yet none of them came near as close to perfection as her radiance did. Her brow furrowed slightly as she caught my wild gaze and delicate muscles lifted her arm in a tentative wave.
There wasn’t a doubt in the world she was mine. Nothing under the sun, nor above, would keep me from this woman. I took a step towards her and her smile faltered. Undoubtedly she was feeling the same joy I was. She turned to her house and angelic bells pealed as she said something to someone on the porch. I grinned, waving to her. “What is your name, love?” I called, my heart choking out half the phrase.
She frowned and took a step back. She had heard how foolish I sounded compared to her, and was unsure. I had to convince her. I stepped off the curb and waved. “My name is Nathan Sykes. You’re my true love!” My voice no longer faltered, but still, she was retreating into her house. The figure on the porch rose, a tall man who was most likely her father. “I love you more than life! I was going to go die for you when I saw you gardening!” I called, raising the gun in my bony hand to show her I meant what I said. She would no doubt love me when she learned of what I was willing to do for her.
“Oh God he has a gun!” This time I heard her words clearly, and they were notes of panic, not unbridled joy. “Stay the fuck away from me!” She shouted, now breaking into a run for the shade of her house.
For a few brief seconds, time froze for me, and six months of memory washed over my brain. All the worlds I’d been too busy with her to hear rang in my ears alongside hers. “You’re not yourself anymore, Nate.” “What is wrong with you?!” “You’re ruining your life every second you keep this behavior up.” “Why don’t you care about life anymore?” “Don’t blame me when you kill yourself.”
“Who the Hell are you?!” Her voice woke me again, her face fearful from behind a screen door. I blinked and shook my head. Was something wrong with me? Why did my angel’s voice sound like a shrieking crow? Had it always been like that?
A wave of nausea swept over me and I staggered back a step. Had she always been a murderous crow, breaking men’s hearts and denying them their wildest dreams?! Was it just me that she was targeting, only me she was rejecting without even giving a first chance?! How could I have been stupid enough to eat away half a year of my life for this bitch?! She never loved me, and never will! She is cold and cruel and doesn’t care that I destroyed everything I had for her! The gun in my hand jerks, and I realize I have fired it. The bullet glances off of a parked car and her scream mingles with the loud crack of my firearm. The second time I take aim carefully, and a lump of lead buries itself in the wood inches from the door she is slamming.
She won’t get away. She ruined my life, teasing me with perfect form, and smashed my dreams on the rocks. “BITCH!!!” I scream, firing again, despite the fact that my reason is clouded with scarlet rage. A full round is launched from the barrel into the front of her house, shattering windows and wood alike. The gun empty, I toss it aside and charge into the street. My boyfriend of two years dead, my friends scared away, my health wrecked, my family horrified, all for some slut who never even gave me a second thought. There are screams all around me, swirling through my pounding head and fuelling my fury. Out of my peripherals I see something charging towards me. A car horn screaming closer and the hood of a silver minivan. I stop, turning to face the driver with a defiant scowl. If that cowardly bitch wants to see me dead by her hand, by God she will. I bet she’s in there, staring at me through an upstairs window. I bet she’s cheering at my death. I am the beast, King Kong, and she is the heartless maiden who lured me to my death: the terrible, irresistible woman that brought an un-crushable monster to his knees.
Bones break, organs collapse, blackness closes in around me. I loved her with the fire of a thousand Hells, as violently as a holocaust in my heart with the roaring of a thousand gun salute. She killed me just as tenderly, with a smile, a hesitant wave and seventeen words. I never did find out her name...

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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

roknroll said...
Jul. 10, 2010 at 1:26 pm
gymbabe This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 21, 2010 at 10:11 pm

OH MY GOSH THIS IS AMAZING!  So vivid, you can so clearly see how insane the main character is, this is amazing.  If you didn't win that writing contest, you should've.  Keep writing!

Btw, will you check out and comment on my work?

Rapplescallion This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jun. 22, 2010 at 11:51 am

Thanks a bucket! Glad you liked! ANd I did win. *happy dance*

Sure, I'll check it out!

gymbabe This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jun. 22, 2010 at 4:03 pm
Thanks!  And your work is awesome:)
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