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Once Upon A Love

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It was a Thursday when they met for the first time. Neither of them remembers this: they each have their own edited moment of revelation.
It was in the eight grade, in the autumn, in a classroom.
"Hello," he said.
"Hi," she responded.
They passed each other by, and that was that.
She had dry skin, red lips and a cloud of black hair. She wasn't beautiful, but then, he wasn't either. He had plain brown eyes, a teasing smile and long smooth hands.
They fell in love.
For her, it was a Tuesday afternoon. Luck had put them both in cooking class. He was chopping carrots. She glanced at him while he was staring at her. She saw his eyes and never forgot them.
For him, it was a Wednesday. She sat beside him, talking to her friends. He saw her laugh; her eyes closed, her nose crinkled, her cloud of raven dark hair danced on her shoulders.
And that was that.
He was one of those whom no one ever notices, who comes every day yet no one ever sees. He didn't get good grades but was too shy and too proud to ask for help. Every lunch, he went to the library and messed around with the computers.
He was great at graphic arts. No one ever knew. No one would have cared.
Except her.
She knew and she cared. She loved him because he loved what he did; because he loved making animations and loved animations themselves.
She wasn't popular either but she had a group of close-knit friends, those that hang in a bunch at the sidelines, those that everyone notices yet forgets. In elementary school, she had skipped a grade. She was one of those whom you label "smart". She liked music, drawing, writing, pottery; and she was naturally good at them too. Better than anyone ever knew. Even him. "Natural artistic talent," her teachers praised. "Musically gifted," her parents would sniff.
And they all said that, but in the end, no one really cared. She was just another gifted child, and that was all.

Teenage crushes are very real to teens. Sometimes the crushes really are something more, but no one ever realizes. "They are too young to know true love," they say. And maybe it's true, but sometimes it's not.
It was her friend that told him she loved him.
She hadn't wanted her friend to tell.
"It doesn't matter. He likes you back, doesn't he?" her friend dismissed her with a wave of her hand.
To her friends, it was another game to play. Another match to orchestrate. Just that, nothing more. Only a 'like' not a 'love'.
That night, he went online to a social networking site.
"I love you too," he typed.
And that was that.

They were both extremely shy. He had had a bit more experience than her: he had kissed girls before, and not just one. Granted though, it was always on the cheeks. He had never kissed on the mouth.
She was innocent, and very, very naive. Coming from a protective family, she had been taught to avoid love and any manifestation of it.
The first time he tried to kiss her, she had ducked down. She had thought he was going to slap her. Her mother had abused her as a child.
The second time he tried to kiss her, she let him. It felt nice, like a butterfly resting on your skin, unafraid, before flying off into the skies again.
Slowly they got used to each other's company. Sometimes, standing behind him, she would swing her arms around his neck. Her warm, low laugh, which he so often heard, would then resonate softly in his ears.
At the end of every week, he would give her a warm hug and gentle kiss. Always on the cheeks. He didn't know how to kiss on the mouth.
She smelled like sandlewood and oranges. He smelled like warm summer rain rising up from the pavement.
It was love.

Once, on a Monday morning, there was a presentation. It was about drugs, alcohol, and their effects. As the teacher droned on and on, he leaned close to her.
"I won't ever take any, I promise."
She turned towards him, dimples in her cheeks. "I know you wouldn't," she replied, as certain and as sure as anyone could ever be.
He smiled and leaned away. "At least, I won't take any, as long as I have you."
She didn't hear him.

Sometimes, things were awkward between them. They couldn't think of things to talk about and would walk in mutual silence. Other times, they would look at each other and burst out laughing.
The first time they held hands was a summer day, at the end of June.
It was, once again, a Thursday.
They were walking to the bus stops.
He looked at her timidly, reaching out his hand. She raised her head and started to laugh before taking his hand in her own long, slim fingers.
"I laugh when I'm nervous," she explained. "Have you noticed?"
"Yes. I have," he responded, smiling, holding her hand just a little bit tighter.
She was always laughing around him.

On a Wednesday afternoon, they fell asleep under a tree. Her head rested in that perfect nook in his shoulders, like a bird's egg in it's nest, just like it should be.
Her long dark hair cascaded down his chest, his arm curled gently around her waist.
The leaves fell on them, caressing them with soft strokes.
It was the first time he had ever cut class. It was the first time she had ever missed class.
Her classmates went around and called her a slut.

That year, she was thirteen and he was fourteen.
They were growing up fast.

His parents were divorced. Her's were planning to. They both had brothers.
None of their family knew.
They were spending more and more time together.

They first time they made love, they didn't.
She started laughing as soon as he brushed her bare skin.
He smiled, and gave up. He decided to try again when they were both more ready.
He still hadn't kissed a girl on the lips. He still didn't know how.
Neither did she.
They were young, they were innocent. It was alright.
Rumors were going around.
It was alright, they world would keep on turning. They were still alive.
They would be alright.

At the end of high school, they were both still virgins.
Most of their classmates weren't.
Somehow, she was still known as a hoe.
He told her she wasn't.
It didn't help.

The last day of high school was, once again, a Thursday.
He walked her to her bus stops like he'd always done, every day of every year.
He hugged her and kissed her on the cheek like he'd always done, every week of every year.
They knew it was, most likely; the last time they'd ever see each other but there were no tears. It just didn't seem real.

He was eighteen when she was seventeen. They hadn't seen each other for over a year. On the 17th of March, his birthday; she prayed for him. On the 15th of February, her birthday; he bought flowers, thinking of her, and left them on his windowsill till they dried and he had to throw them out.
His social networking messages to her were left unanswered: she couldn't afford the electricity where she lived. Her letters to him were thrown out by his parents: he had long since moved out, and his parents had never approved of her.
He went to the closest university in their hometown and chose graphic design as his major.
She travelled to the U.S., attending a famous music university that had given her a scholarship.
They were following their dreams, but they still dreamt of each other.
He had no one.
Neither did she.

On a Tuesday night, he tried his first sniff of drugs. He coughed and hated it from the first moment onwards, but he soon forgot this fact as he took a second breath.
It took him away to another world. His own world where no one could ever harm him.
All he'd ever wanted to be was happy. Was this such a crime?
She was too uptight to ever try either alcohol or drugs. She remembered promising herself, as a little girl, to never even touch them. She was disciplined enough to respect this promise.
While her friends went off every week to parties, she stayed at home and played the violin.
She thought of him as she played, and wondered how he was.
She wondered if he ever thought of her.
He did.

The years rolled on by, slowly then faster and faster, gathering speed as they sped down the hill.
She was now twenty-three and he was twenty-four.
They were getting by.
They were lonely.
Neither of them were virgins anymore.
There was a boy who'd spun her away on a dizzy night, then who'd left her there as he'd changed his mind.
There was a girl who'd reminded him of a pure white lotus, but she'd danced away from his reach, laughing as she went.
Somehow, though, he still hadn't kissed anyone on the lips. Neither had she.
He was an animator in a major film company. It was his dream job, but not what he'd expected from it.
She was a private music teacher. It wasn't what she wanted but then, she'd never known what her dream job would be.
They only remembered each other once every few months, maybe even less. Their memories of each other were fading fast.
In another few years or so, they'd be gone.

They say that miracles happen.

And you know what?

They're right.

He was twenty-six and she was twenty-five.
And it was, once again, a Thursday afternoon.
The cement was coated with a thin cover of slush, on the trees were a layer of brittle ice.
She was walking along the road to the bus stops.
That same road she'd walked so many times, so many years ago.
It seemed to her that at every corner there were ghosts of friends she'd long since lost contact with, and spirits of some that she barely remembered.
Ghostly whispers of gossip that never mattered rose eerily up in the winter air...
She could almost see herself as a young adult, trudging along this very road, hand in hand with him.
She could almost see him walking here, with his quick, long legs and easy smile.

He was walking along the road to the bus stops.
That same road he'd walked so many times, so many years ago.
It seemed to him that at every corner there were forgotten memories hidden to surprise him, things that he'd forgotten he'd ever known.
The red mailbox at the end of the street, for example. The criss-cross wooden fences, trademark of the Italian family that used to live on the road.
Their dog had loved to harass him when he walked with her.
He could almost hear the bulldog's ghostly barks rising silently up in the air...
He could almost hear her footsteps crunching the snow alongside him, with her cloud of black hair and rosy red cheeks...

She looked up and saw him.
He looked back and saw her.
"Jules!" she screamed.
"Zora!" he yelled.
Their life restarted at the exact moment it had stopped, nine years ago, at that very bus stop.
They didn't know it, but they were standing at the exact same spot they were in when they said goodbye for the last time.
They walked to the bus stops, hand in hand.
He hugged her and kissed her on the lips. He didn't know how and neither did she, but it didn't matter.

It was perfect.

It was love.



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liveloud77This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 23, 2013 at 9:43 am:
WOW I LOVED THIS. Amazing! I love this writing style! It's really just a long line of statements, but you told a complete story that was so captivating, and it was vivid enough to be poetry. This is soo great!!
 
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