Whenever I think of you I remember your bright blue eyes and how the first time I looked into them, I was startled at how they could be brimming with so much emotion yet be so utterly empty. I remember your bright blue eyes and how they looked like the sky filled with a million birds in flight searching for the meaning of life as you often did. I remember your bright blue eyes and how they looked like a deep pool of water, pulling me in as I willingly drowned myself in your world of mischief. I was told once that I was the only person you talked to ever since your mom died. How I was the only one who brought out “the real you” when people had been trying for years to pick you up from the pit of misery you had fallen in to. We were so young then, and yet you told me you loved me for the person you became because of me. And because I didn’t know any better, I believed you. We imagined the world as ours to take. “King and Queen of all the lands” as you called us, yet we were so much more than that. You picked me up when I was down without even realizing it. Because truth was, as much as everyone thought I saved you, you were the one who saved me and I never got a chance to thank you for it.
Instead, I killed you.
It’s funny how we knew each other so well in a manner of days and yet when I look back upon it, you never even knew my real name. You never even knew why I was thousands of miles away from home living with a non-blood-related uncle I had never seen in my entire life. You never even knew why I didn’t talk about my family or why I got on a plane out of America during Christmas break knowing I’d never finish out the school year. Oh, there was such much you never knew because if you did, maybe you would’ve realized how cursed with bad luck I was and would have kept your distance. Maybe I’d be able to call you up right now to tell you how much I missed you, you big goofy blue-eyed monster. Maybe I wouldn’t be stuck writing this, the memories of you crashing into my soul draining me of tears for the night.
To think, it all started at a stupid New Year’s party I was dragged to because, well, it’s hard to escape a party when the host is your uncle that you’re living with.
“Strange,” my uncle huffed, tapping his pregnant-looking belly that would put Santa Claus to shame, “I’ve never met someone who hated parties so much. You were much more pleasant as a little girl.” When I didn’t bother giving him a reaction, he raised his brow and continued, “Stop looking so glum and mingle around. There’s plenty of children who’d love to get to know you. Your family is well-known around here. Introduce yourself and you’ll have friends soon enough.”
I knew that, of course. I knew that the second I introduced myself everyone would swarm around me. I knew that the parents would be sending their kids my way to try to be my best friend. Because the one thing this town loved more than gossip was gossip about my family…about my dad particularly. You see, my dad the businessman was well-known in this town. And when he suddenly disappeared quicker he arrived, everybody was curious to know what was going on. I couldn’t care less about my father at that point or his "famousness" in a town I hadn't visited since my diaper days. As for “mingling” and trying to make new friends, I’d already sent a majority of the children running the other direction with a simple but effective death glare. I was perfectly fine in the corner sipping some fruit punch as a stranger thank you very much.
“Fine. Just know your parents would not be pleased with you acting like this at all. Your behavior has been disappointing at the least.” As a response, I crossed my arms and gave him a glare. He huffed once more and left me alone the rest of the night.
“How do you know him?” A voice came from behind me. I turned around and almost jumped back, startled by your blue eyes.
“Excuse me?” I ask.
“How do you know him? I thought he didn’t have any children and he wouldn’t let anyone else disrespect him like that.”
I stared at your perfectly bright blue eyes and realized how much it contrasted your dark outfit. “Are you in mourning?” I ask.
“You’re the only one wearing all black to a New Year’s Party. Are you mourning?”
“No…” I saw a flicker of amusement in your eyes before you coughed and continued, “No but you didn’t answer my question.”
“You didn’t answer mine either… uh, what’s your name again?”
“Call me Wesley. And the answer to your question is complicated.” When I didn’t answer, you continued, “Okay at least tell me your name mystery girl.”
I glared at you for a while, but when you stayed rooted to your spot, I relented, “Anaya… Call me Anaya.”
“Anaya… I like that…” And just like that, you gave me your first smile while I fed you my first lie. You never found out my real name but it seemed fitting to be known as Anaya. You see, I had an obsession with names and their meanings back then. Of course that’s a story for another time.
You were the only person I talked to that night, and as the seconds ticked down and the New Year approached, you smiled at me, clinked my glass of fruit punch with yours, and said, “Here’s to a very lucky start to a New Life and a New Year. I think it’s a good thing for both of us I met you here.” And yet again, I smiled. And I believed you.
One lesson I knew long before I met you was how good things never last. I should’ve known then that our long walks around the park and prank-filled adventure days wouldn’t last either. Yet, my real name and my real life back home were almost forgotten in between all the laughs we shared together. Now, whenever I try to replay those memories of us in my mind all I can conjure up is the pure agony and loss I feel every time I remember your stupid blue eyes. All I feel is completely and utterly worthless every time I remember how dead your eyes looked that dreaded day.
We were on our usual walk when you decided to show me one of your favorite “secret spots”. Turns out, you led me to a small, secluded lake area with a single tree swing and a forgotten picnic table. You didn’t know how deathly afraid of swimming I was back then. (Ironic now, considering I grew to be a USA Swimmer, breaking records and competing at nationals just the past year.)
“Come on, jump in!” You kept trying to convince me.
“I’m wearing a nice outfit for once and I’m not getting drenched just because some crazy blue-eyed monster is giving me puppy dog eyes!” I laugh.
But you kept trying to convince me and I was too prideful to admit how scared of swimming I was. After what seemed like hours of arguing, I told you I’d jump in only if you did. Always a show-off, you went straight for the tree swing and back-flipped into the lake. I was always the one craving adventure and crazy spontaneous plans, so whatever the irrational fear of swimming I had, I shoved it down deep and started to walk out into the water, if only to keep my pride intact. We splashed around, yelling and laughing like we always did. Suddenly, I felt something scrape against my foot. I screamed and ran out of the lake as fast as I could manage with my jeans hugging my legs and weighing me down. I looked back to make sure you were okay but you laughed instead.
“I’ve never heard you scream before. What’s wrong... scared of a little water?” I stuck my tongue out at you but you just laughed, shook your head, and decided to swim laps around the lake.
Out of the blue, you started screaming for help. I couldn’t swim in the deeper end of the water you were in and started to panic. I rushed out as far as I could while frantically trying to call for help. I tried to tell you it would be fine, tried to tell you I was trying to call my uncle, but… you laughed. You… laughed?
“You should’ve seen your face!” You swam over towards me, “That was too funny!”
“Don’t ever do that again,” I say, my voice a deadly low whisper.
“Sorry, Anaya. It was a joke I swear!” You shouted after me as I got out of the water and started to walk away
“Come back. Anaya!” You yelled, “HELP!”
“I told you it wasn’t funny,” I yelled back. Tears threatened to spill as the memories of just why I hated the water so much came back in tides, drowning me in flashbacks. My throat closed up, my body shaking as parts of my past resurfaced. Your cries for help were drowned out by the thundering sound of blood rushing to my ears.
“ANAYA!” Your voice snapped me out of my spot. I turned round to see in horror as you were struggling to stay afloat.
Your boyish brown hair was bobbing up and down in the water as I ran towards the lake.
I stopped, “Wesley, I’m serious. If you’re joking around again it’s not funny…”
“HELP!” You managed to scream out before you went back under the water. My blood turned to ice, realizing this wasn’t a joke. But how was I going to help? I didn’t know how to swim!
“Hold on Wesley!” I cried, “Please hold on!”
You didn’t shout a response but I saw you thrashing, fighting for your life. I called 911 instinctively before realizing I wasn’t in the States for that to work. I almost broke down helplessly in a panic. I kept trying to call my uncle, his father, the neighbors, anyone I could. “Pick up, pick up, pick up” I chanted, tears streaming down my face. I looked around trying to find something to throw to you, a tree branch, a rope, anything that could help. “The emergency number,” I shouted, “What was the emergency number?” I cried frantically, your struggle to stay afloat slowing down by the second. I started punching in some numbers, “No, no, Wesley please hold on. Please, please please-”
“Hello, what is your emerge-?”
“My friend... he...he’s drowning,” I choked out between my sobs, “I can’t swim-I can’t save him… he’s drowning, please… please come save him he-”
“Ma’am I’m going to need you to calm down and speak very clearly.”
So I did. I told them where we were and though the lady on the phone told me to sit tight, I tried to swim out to you afterward. I swear I tried. I just couldn’t float. So I stood there, crying, shaking, shouting, watching you as you struggled to live. All I could do was stand there uselessly and watch. I watched you as you struggled to pull yourself up out of the water with every ounce of energy you had left. I watched you… I watched you as you stopped struggling too. I watched as people started to rush in and pull me out of the water as I tried to inch my way closer to you. I watched as people went after you. I watched as they pulled you out and tried to find your pulse. I tried to run to you then.
Everything around me was a blur as I struggled out of some stranger’s hands that were holding me back as I kept thrashing around. Somehow, I got out of the stranger’s grip and I ran all the way up to your body. Others had made a sort of fence by that time, surrounding you and yelling for everyone to stay away. Arms grabbed me again, as I kept kicking, shouting, struggled to get close to you.
“I’m so sorry Wesley," I yelled, still kicking to run towards you, "I’m so so sorry. Please be okay. Wes, I’m so-”
I stopped as I caught a glimpse of your eyes. Your bright blue eyes so full of life were so… dead. My body stopped struggling and I fell limp to the ground. People tried to talk to me, tried to get a response. All I could manage was a weak whisper, “Don’t leave me you blue-eyed monster. Please…”
I spent the next couple months completely avoiding everyone and everything. It was pathetic how much I wallowed in my self-pity. The only time I spoke in those months was for about three minutes at your funeral. Days faded in and out, months flying by. I found myself waking up every day excited to spend another day with you only to realize I’d never see you again. One day I woke up and I was back on a plane to go home. I left my pride, my fake name, and the last I ever knew of happiness buried with you. I left it all buried with you and yet I could never bury that aching hole in my chest. I left it all buried with you and it took me almost eight years after that to ever have the courage to come back and see you.
I sat by you and realized I forgot what you looked like exactly. I forgot what you smelled like. I forgot how you talked. Or your funny walk. The only thing I remembered about you at that time was how much of a friend you were to me when I needed you the most. And yet, when you needed me… I didn’t save you. I just watched you die.
I just watched as those bright blue eyes blinked once beneath the sky and got lost under the water, slipping away. I remember realizing some time that night that you never were the blue-eyed monster that I kept calling you. And it’d be a lie to have called you my first love or even my friend because you might’ve been the one with blue eyes, but I was the one who was the real monster. And monsters didn’t have feelings. No, monsters didn’t deserve to have feelings. So I shut everyone out and tucked my emotions away again, the name I once told you echoing in the back of my mind. Anaya, meaning misfortune.
Anaya… Misfortune. Misery. Monster.