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A Fate of Heartache
I lived in a small village in France that, although surrounded by grass and trees, was dusty and dead in the streets. We were soulmates, Pierre and I, sworn together by sweet songs on his guitar and sunsets ending in sorrow, caused by the curse of leaving. The second he looked at me, at the age of nineteen, my heart cried, "Oui!" I felt him everywhere I went before I had ever even met him, so his delightful presence felt like filling a void. Maybe the stars and sun set it up or maybe it was just miraculous luck, but we weren’t going to waste true love on conflicts of property and money like the rest of those stardust bodies did.
I lived in a house with my family, but I spent most of my daylight in Pierre's much smaller house. He would squeeze lemons into water, and we’d laugh for hours, spending them in the warmth of each other, until every night the sun would come down and I’d panic about forgetting the time. The truth was, I never forgot about the time. He was just more worth my time. We left each other with a kiss on the lips and a promise of eternal exclusivity to each other. In whatever life we lived, we would be bound to each other at heart.
One night, I came home with a belly full of oranges and bread to my mother wringing tears out of my eyes. My parents were having me marry another man. He made a great offer, and they feared no one else would make one so high as I aged. My parents once told me that whichever man I wanted to marry would be my own decision, but the universe had recently cursed my father with influenza. Not knowing where a stable income would come from if he passed, my parents took that promise back a few weeks ago. My stomach felt hollow now. I urged to scream and cry for Pierre to marry me, but he was not a wealthy man. So, in a fit of blind despair, I said nothing.
That meant the next night would be my last sunset with my true love. When that night came, the sorrow wasn’t just caused by a goodbye. It was a perpetual sadness that was just eating me alive, limb by limb. We ate blueberries in silence, until I regretfully broke it by telling him:
“I’m so sorry.”
His beautiful eyes, once full of stars and love, were now only letting me in at surface level. “What is it?”
“They’re making me marry someone else.”
I wanted to take it back, but I knew if I hadn’t said that he’d be more confused and hurt than he was now. The years we had spent inside the love of each other, the smiles, the miscommunications we solved through soft hand holds and genuine eye contact were now corrupted by our own society. I broke our promise that day. We had given pieces of our souls to each other, but out of greed, we didn’t give them back. From this life to the rest, a part of me would always belong to him. Only now it was stained in grief and loss, rather than love.
I spent the next few years in longing. I became friends with the man I married, but he was not worthy of my love. He was weak and used his anger to masquerade strength. My soulmate was strong and used it to show love.
Nights were spent with my husband’s grimey, bothersome arm around me, but I always looked out the window in case my love were to show up to grant me a sunrise of sweetness. I wouldn’t eat oranges or blueberries anymore, so I lied that if I did I’d inflate like a balloon. Instead, I ate strawberries. With each and every meal, I would stuff my body with the little red berry, injecting the juice into blue veins of pain.
I would see Pierre in town, but the love we had lit our low lives up with was so magnetic that we’d only watch each other. Anything else would just cause trouble.
One warm morning, I heard from the rumbles of town gossip he was leaving that night. He was to go to some slightly bigger town down the way, hoping to move on from his life here, they said. The basket of fruit previously in my hand was now spilling apples onto the dirt ground, the basket lying on its side like a sick cat. I stood there in agony. What if he were to love someone else?
Later, I was out in the garden, watering the strawberry bushes, and that’s when I saw him.
“I’m going soon,” Pierre told me. Hearing his fulfilling, insecurity-killing voice was like sweet honey on freshly baked bread. I felt like my hunger had vanished and here we were, vibrating love and grief all in one. “I needed to tell you,” he said. I didn’t speak. I feared my pink lips would try to land on his, but I knew someone would see, and if the question was ‘Is it better to speak or to die,’ I chose death. Pierre licked his lips and looked at mine. “I want you to come with me. This love I feel for you, whether I try to make it go or not, it never wavers,” he told me. With a glance into the window of the house, he shyly took my hand in his. “You have nothing of value with him… Let’s just leave with each other. We’ll go far away from here, live in a little cottage with flowers and lemons in our water, we’ll have babies, die old together. This isn’t fair of me, being here, I know. But if I didn’t ask, I was going to spend the rest of my life in regret.”
In no world would I have even contemplated saying no to a life with Pierre. My mouth flew open and “Yes,” is what came out. “I’ll meet you at sunset.”
But later that afternoon, my father abruptly died. It was like the air in the house was poisoned and with every breath the family became more depressed and more tired. Watching everyone cry and my mother yell at the ceiling a desperate and disoriented ‘why,’ I knew what I couldn’t do. I spent the day watching over the family, fighting back tears, hoping the universe would give me a way out of here, but the answer was clear.
When sunset came, I watched from behind a tree as Pierre waited for me. Against a canvas of red, orange, and yellow, he was a black silhouette of love and laughter, hoping for a happily ever after. Me, a girl behind a tree, having been swept off her feet, was now knocked on her knees, begging the universe ‘let everything work out, for God’s sake, please.’
For the first time in my life, I had no panic about nightfall. I lost all care for the time. The longer he waited, the more this destruction felt fated. I wanted to run up to him, I wanted to throw myself at his feet and cry for what we weren’t able to have, but again, I said nothing.
And as the moon began shining down on his frame, he turned and began walking.