Once upon a time, not long ago, there was a boy and a girl. Many a story begin this way, and end with “and they lived happily ever after”; and all become the greatest of all love stories that are passed on to generation after generation. But this story is different from the others....
This girl was a loner and had nothing to say. This boy was the school jock and had a lot to say... He had also admired this girl since forever, but was too timid to approach her about it. This boy was handsome, athletic, popular... Need I go on?
This girl was reclusive, isolated and the underdog of the school. This girl would come to school each day only to be verbally beaten by her tormentors, and go home only to be beaten the same way by herself. She convinced herself that what the others said was true. She would starve herself and cut the skin on her bony wrists and thinning thighs with a razor. Living this way wasn't what she'd expected of her life... Then again, she didn't ever think she would ever be the subject of her classmates' mockery either.
Black. She wore all black... A shade of black as deep and dark as midnight on a moonless evening. Black; the color of the bags under her eyes from the lack of sleep. This girl had little compassion bestowed upon her; it was mostly dislike that gained her her place on the Social Ladder of Society; which was technically the bottom rung if not the dirt it stood upon. Her black hood was up most of the time to hide the tears she never dared to show anyone.
This boy saw her being tormented one day and headed towards the fight. Before he had even reached his destination, the girl piped up and began to speak her mind.
"You know what!?" She hollered, "Fine! I can take the hint! Nobody wants me!" The entire hallway was listening now. "I bet you'd all be happier if I was gone and out of your way.... Wouldn't you?" Some mumbling aroused and some even agreed with her while others said nothing, but they didn't protest either. This boy, he wanted to protest... Oh how he wanted to protest... But he was a mute. He had gained his popularity by being blessed with an attractive face and a gift for sports. As much as he wished he could protest, he couldn't. This boy, who had so much he wanted to say, couldn't utter a word. Meanwhile this girl, who normally had nothing to say had the freedom and will to say whatever she wanted whenever she wanted.
"Well then, I'll do you all a favor..." She continued, "I won't be here next Monday, I can tell you that much." After no protests were made, she slammed her locker shut and made her way pushing through the crowd to her next class. This boy stood dumbfounded at her words. He pulled a notebook from his locker and hastily began to write:
"Please don't leave... Stay. Stay alive. Stay well. Stay beautiful. This is my list... My list of things I need you to do for me. How I have wanted to say this for years but never found the courage... I'm sorry I never stood up for you. I'm sorry I was never there for you. I'm sorry it's taken me all these years to finally say this. I don’t know what your intentions are... but please... Don't kill yourself to please the idiots... Stay... I love you."
Thinking the last part stating "I love you" was too much, he erased it before placing it in her locker unsigned. Later that day, this girl opened her locker and the letter gently drifted to the tile flooring. She bent down and picked it up, and you’ll never guess what she did next… she trashed it… without reading it. The boy saw what she did. He knew she didn’t read it. He wrote her another letter and placed it in her locker. Upon discovering the second note, the girl trashed this one as well. The boy wasn’t about to give up on her. He managed to figure out her locker combination. He taped a sign to the door reading “you ARE beautiful” and left yet another letter. When the girl opened her locker to find the sign and the letter she was puzzled. During final period study hall, she opened the letter. After finishing the note, she realized what she had done. she immediately began to dig through the garbage can until she found what she was looking for: the first original note. The words made her eyes tear up as she began to mentally thank this sweet stranger for their kind words. And for the first time in a long time... she smiled.
This girl went home still smiling. She immediately began to put her elated feelings into words. All her emotions spilled out, causing her poem to become a jumbled mess of thoughts that weren’t worth the paper they were written on. Discouraged, she put the poem up. Her grandmother had told her she would be home late and that she would have to find something for dinner on her own. The girl loved her grandmother dearly, but she wished her parents hadn’t decided to take a drive on that snowy night seven years back. Knowing quite well that there was almost nothing edible left in the cupboards, she decided to walk to the small diner around the corner. Pulling her coat around her shoulders, she braved the downpour and ran to the diner. The warm smell of freshly cooked food was welcoming as she pulled her hood back and sat in the corner booth.
“What can I get you, darling?” The elderly waitress asked in a honey sweet tone.
“Just a small bowl of soup, please.” The girl decided.
“Sure thing, Doll.” The waitress walked back to the kitchen and left the girl to sit by herself. Noticing the month old Vogue magazine beside her in the booth, she picked it up and flipped through its perfume saturated pages.
This boy, he watched her from the other side of the diner. He hadn’t planned on seeing her outside of school, but he embraced his chance to change her mind. He walked right to the front desk and wrote out on a napkin that he wished to pay for her meal. The cashier agreed to his arrangement and inquired if he would like to have her know who paid for her meal, the boy shook his head side to side as an answer to the question. The boy walked back to the booth he shared with his younger brother and sister and watched the girl continue to flip through the old Vogue magazine. He watched her stare intently at some of the odd fashion trends that grasped her interest, not with the intentions of following, but rather wondering why they were a catching trend. Other times he would see her eyes cloud up with discontentment as she looked at the flawless models. It hurt him to see her lacking the confidence she should have in herself. He contemplated walking over to her and confessing his secret admiration for her but decided against it and turned his attention back to his younger siblings.
The girl ate her soup and browsed her magazine before she inquired the waitress about her bill. The waitress informed her that it had already been paid for and handed her the note the boy had requested to be given to her:
“Dinner’s on me. Stay healthy is also on my list.”
Her heart leapt for joy at the stranger’s kind words. She now knew how to go about her poem. She ran back to her booth, pulled out a pen and began to write. It was getting late and the waitress informed her that since she wasn’t eating, the diner would be closing in only ten minutes. The girl looked down at her watch and realized exactly how late it was. Realizing her grandmother would be home soon, she left the diner. She ran out the door to the crosswalk. Thinking it was clear, she ran across the road but--
This boy watched her leave the diner. This boy watched his secret love get hit by a car. A car that not stop to check on her but instead kept going at an even faster speed than before. He instructed his siblings to remain in the booth before he ran outside thinking there would be a hullabaloo going on outside since well, she was just hit by a car. But not a soul stirred. She lay in the middle of the street in a puddle of rain mixed with her own blood. He pulled her out of the road and onto the sidewalk. He cradled her almost lifeless body in his arms. He held her close, caressed her soaking wet hair and wept. She came to all of but a minute and saw his face before her. She smiled as she knew it was he who had given her such sweet reasons to live. She lifted her pavement-burned hand to brush a loose strand of hair out of his eyes. Her sight and hearing was fading out slowly. He motioned his lips to say the desperate words “I love you” but nothing came out… as usual. She understood him yet and half alive whispered
“I love you too…” he bent down closer and kissed her gently. She smiled when they pulled away. Her face glistened in the streetlight’s glow. Despite that her face was losing its color, she was still as beautiful as any other day. Her eyes began to drain of the sparkle that had only been there a moment and then they closed. The ambulance sirens could be heard in the distance. Someone had called them. Her entire body went limp and it was in that moment that he knew she was gone. He cried. He bawled. He grieved for the sake of his love. He showered her face with kisses as if they were the raindrops falling from the black sky. The ambulance came to a screeching halt at their corner. The EMT tried to assist in getting the girl onto the stretcher, but this boy insisted he do it himself. He knew it would be the last time. The last time he would get to hold her close. The last time he would kiss her face. The last time he would be able to stroke her raven black hair. The last time he would see her her brown eyes. All he could do was let her go. He placed her gently on the stretcher and brushed a few strands of hair out of her face and behind her ear. He kissed her once more. Her lips were still warm to the touch. She was smiling… she had died with a smile on her face. She had died happily. He took one last look at her face… something the Angels themselves would be graced with the presence of now. The EMT pulled the white sheet over her face and rolled the stretcher to the ambulance. This boy stood in the pouring rain watching the racing ambulance take the love of his life away from him just when he was only beginning to show her just what she really meant to him.
“... They can’t hurt her now…” he thought to himself. The ambulance could no longer be heard. He was never to see her again.
All that could be heard was the ‘pit-pat-pit-pat’ of the raindrops on the pavement. All he could think of was how much he wished that car would come racing back and hit him as well. He walked back to the place he had last held her and kneeled in the puddle. The pavement, wet and black, glistened in the streetlamp light. The overhead traffic light blinked. On. Off. On. Off. It too reflected in the rain puddles. ‘Pit-pat-pit-pat-pit-pat’; the rain continued to fall upon his shoulders and the pavement, now stained with her blood. He stood; knowing he had to move on. As he made his way back to the diner, he spotted something on the ground where he had dragged her onto the sidewalk. I looked like a napkin. Without knowing why, he picked it up. There appeared to be writing on it… smudged and delicate, but he read it all the same:
“I know not who you are,
but your words of kindness are the sunshine to my rainy day.
I know not your name,
But you’re in the corners of my mind every now and then from time to time.
I know not your story,
But I hope with all my heart that its one worth telling.
I know not your deepest secrets,
But then again, they wouldn’t be secrets if they were shared, would they?
I know not the thoughts of your complex mind,
But sometimes I wonder if I may be one of them.
I know not, I know not.
I know not how to say this.
How to word it to make sense.
I know not how to relieve myself,
Relieve myself of the thought of not knowing who you are…
My Sweet Stranger.
Relieve myself of not knowing your name...
My Sweet Stranger
Relieve myself of not knowing your story…
My Sweet Stranger
Relieve myself of not knowing the twisting and turning thoughts of your mind…
My Sweet Stranger
My Sweet Stranger,
Whoever you are,
Whatever be your name
Whatever your story,
Whatever your secrets,
Whatever your thoughts…
You will always be my Sweet Stranger,
The one who could make me smile,
Even on my cloudiest days…
My Sweet, Sweet Stranger…”