REQUIEM FOR A DREAM
Pietros Val Patricio
'Say you want it. Admit it. I know you want to go back home and see the iridescent seashells that fade along the shore. Don't you long for the place that has accompanied fateful memories of the past, the visionary sunsets along the shore that has given you so much warmth and comfort? Have you already forgotten the aura of the memorable times you've spent along the coast with the breeze of the palms? Yes, I can still remember everything.'Clara thought for a moment.
It was a dark and cloudy November eve in Berlin and it was at the height of the fall season, the sizzling breeze of winter was cold. Sitting in a public bus facing outside the window, she could barely recognize the foggy TV Tower from a far distance. And all of a sudden, raindrops began to plunge from the gray sky. Pedestrians along the sidewalks took out their umbrellas, others hurried to find shade. A sudden sound of lightning thunder struck her ears and the as rain fell even stronger on the concrete, she could already hear its drops. She stared at the vehicles and the Turkish street vendors who were just about to close shop. She glanced once more at the same streets and buildings the bus passed by everyday for a moment and as the heavy rain blurred the window, she recalled her past, her life before she even came to Berlin. From this moment on, she felt a trace of loneliness and pain. It was so simple, yet tender that she felt a certain strain that urged her to long back for home. The unforgotten sentiments of the days she spent along the ocean, those memories have left a special place in her heart that could not easily fade away. It struck her emotionally at times when she had those melancholy thoughts coming back in mind. Even the scent and presence of the place she spent her childhood years along the coast made her recall those days she'd thought would never end. She stood up and got off the bus she took from S-Bahnhof Feuerbachstrasse as her station was called. The rain soaked her face along with the freezing wind as she hurried home.
She crossed the street at the intersection that lead to the building. She lived in an apartment with her mother along Ankogelweg. She slowly opened the garden gate and proceeded towards the building to unlock the door. Entering the abode, she laid her bag aside and walked towards the mirror in the bathroom. There she stood before the mirror staring at her own innocent face. She recalled the mocking at her school being the thank you girl from next door.
What a hideous face… If only I could have looked different…
Her face possessed a calm structure with its hazel eyes, although it gave the impression of a troubled young lady. Her rosy skin had the beautiful tone of honey. She had a slender, proportional body and a beautiful bronze tone kissed by the golden sunlight. Standing at five foot nine, her dark hair had long and silky strains. At the tender age of seventeen, she already appeared to be fully grown. She took her clothes off as she continued to look at herself in the mirror, staring at her divine face. She was all alone. Her mother would usually come late at night from work. She'd usually be horrified whenever she saw her own daughter in the state of depression. Alas, she looked aside and stared at an old picture with her father whom she missed so badly.
How could you leave us behind like that? You just left without even returning.
He left her many years ago. During those days, her father was so desperate to find a job overseas believing that being a local engineer in the province wouldn't bring him any further in life. When chance came, he got a sudden call from the employment agency where he applied. He soon received a contract as a mechanical engineer in Dubai. And within a month, he already found himself in the airport awaiting the next flight to Dubai via Riyadh. He promised to call as soon as he arrived. But they never received any call, not even letters. They never heard of him again since then. Up to this day, Clara still couldn't get over it.
You never came back. Now I have to live on without you…
She thought about her father for a moment. Now looking away with teary eyes, she turned slowly as she walked away. Tears slowly began to stream down her face as she walked out the door.
Lying in her bed, she faced up the ceiling accompanied by the solitary darkness in her room. Memories of her past were suddenly awakened. She remembered how her father would take her to the natural shore of the countryside on the weekend. He was the one who taught her how to love the ocean. He also encouraged her to become what she was today, a skilled diver who valued the nature that lied beneath the sea. Gone were those days when she dived under the sea to sight the coral reefs and watch the graceful dolphins dominate the ocean. All that changed when he was gone. Clara never returned to snorkeling again after her father left her behind. All she could do was linger alone in the powdery sand facing the seashore and watch the golden sunsets followed by tears of sorrow.
But sooner or later, there came the day she never thought would ever happen. She never intended to receive company from someone. One day when she was sitting all by herself at the beach, she noticed someone approaching her from behind. It was a guy she apparently knew from school, a familiar face she couldn't recognize. He was a tall, dusky and athletic young man who her friends knew at school. She managed to hide her hardships and sorrow from all her friends, though this guy named Julian, whom she barely knew, seemed to understand her feelings. He smiled at her and claimed to notice the visible pain she was carrying everyday. He said it was visible in her eyes. She looked at him for a while as he was by her side. She told him everything and he listened. All she knew about him was that he was a track field runner at their school. Although she barely knew him, he held her by the hand and soothed her. He seemed to understand how she was feeling. Never has she met a guy, so compassionate that he would even listen to her troubles. All the other guys only cared about themselves. Slowly, he dried her tears and cheered her up.
Days later, he brought her friends to the beach. By then, she already had the strength to talk about her problems. Those lonely days in the sunset marked by tears and sorrow were soon replaced by warmth and laughter. Her life suddenly became all clear again. There, they met almost every Friday of the week. For Clara, he was like a wonder sent from up above. He led her out of the dark and brought her back to the light. She didn't know what she would have done without him. She was always humbled by his kind presence. And she never thought that she would easily fall for him.
Soon, they often spent the time alone together. They would walk alone in the parks of the city at night. Whenever they were alone, he would cover his arms around her and lay his head on her shoulder. People at school would then gossip about the two of them sooner or later. But that didn't seem to bother her at all.
Once when they were walking together at Jaro Plaza hearing the rhythm of the guitars that echoed throughout the place, Julian surprised her when he asked what they would do if they would never see each other someday. It was a thought she has never expected from him. Since she didn't know what to say, she refused to answer and remained silent. At sundown, they walked along the streets where various souvenirs for tourists were sold. There, he bought her a necklace. He placed it around her neck to symbolize their comradeship. Perhaps it meant even more than just that. The amulet showed the figure of a shimmering silver dolphin. Clara was speechless. To her, it was strikingly beautiful and she lost the words to describe it. She slowly faced towards him smiling, laid her hands around his neck and gently kissed him.
They became the talk of the town at school indeed. This soon became uncomfortable for both of them. Clara was bothered by her friends who talked behind her back. All the girls wanted a guy who is popular, someone they could show off and display with in public. Those who don't know the true values of a relationship will never understand the ways of love for they have never felt what it is like. Things went of smoothly and as the months passed by, she stayed the same but Julian began to drift away until he would forget about her. Soon, she was left alone. It started out so well and now, everything seemed to fall apart again.
There came the day when her mother received a working contract for a chain of local banks in Germany from her recruitment. It was a crucial moment for Clara, which was also painful for her. So she decided not to tell Julian about it and keep it a secret instead. As the school year was coming to an end, she noticed that he was not paying attention to her anymore. He somehow managed to find out that she would soon be leaving him behind. Still she waited for the day when he would come to her and tell his true feelings he had for her. But nothing happened. Lonely and forgotten, she never thought he'd look her way again. It was during the course of the last weeks before graduation when he unexpectedly approached her after a long time and held her in his arms again. He smiled at her as if everything was meant to be with a trace of sorrow in his eyes and she knew that he loved her.
And the end of the year came faster than expected. During the ecumenical end of the year celebrations after graduation, Clara noticed that Julian had been missing. It was only at the end of an evening faculty party at the campus where she noticed him around with a certain grief in his face. He left the campus as he noticed her. She slowly followed him in the dark. Somewhere around the park, they both stopped. Julian leaned against a tree and looked up in the sky. She approached closer until he noticed her by his side. He asked her why she followed him but she gave no answer. There was only silence. She stared at the fullness of the moon and told him that she'd be leaving the country sometime that summer. She asked whether he was alright and he said he was fine. There was this certain calmness in the sound of his voice. She told him about everything and by the end, he took her in his arms and embraced her tightly. He laid his head around her shoulder and told her for the very first time how much he loved her. She noticed the sadness of his voice and felt something so strong she's never felt before. His honesty was too much for her; she couldn't help but close her eyes and slowly cry on his shoulder. He told her that it was probably the will of destiny that decided her fate to leave the country. He said he was happy for her, glad about the new life that was awaiting her outside the country. For the very last time, he kissed her gently on her lips. As he stepped back, he looked at her with his bronze eyes making her feel emotional inside. With one last glance, he walked away until her sight of him slowly vanished in the moonlight shadow. She could not tell him how much he meant to her for it was only at that moment when she realized how important he was to her. But deep within, she was crying in agony because of his simple presence, just how clean the way he always made her feel. It was so hard to let it go. Upon the stars of that night, she was left all alone wishing that her heartrending feelings were gone.
Before leaving after the remaining days of that summer, she had one last cry before she could leave all her memories of him behind. There was nothing left but to put him out of her mind for the very last time to live on. She understood for the first time how love could strongly affect one's life. But she also understood that life wasn't always that easy after all.
Weeks later, she finally arrived at the airport in Frankfurt with her mother where they were questioned by the security police and were brought to the Immigration area where they were instructed to turn in their green passports containing their working and residence visas. Because of this, they missed their flight to Berlin. The delayed flight was delayed for the next few days and they were both directed to a nearby hotel. The following day, her mother brought her to the headquarters of the Commerzbank Zentrale, the company that hired her, to inform officials about their delayed arrival in Berlin. In the reception lobby of the building, her mother was introduced to an employee who talked to them for hours and then eventually invited them to a restaurant. On their way with a car, Clara felt the cold temperature in her while glancing outside the window while the two ladies were talking. She saw the clustered buildings that comprised the industrial area. The sky was dark and cloudy. The aerial scene appeared dull and lifeless to her eyes.
Arriving at the café, her mom had a long conversation with the woman about the financial and immigrant circumstances in Germany for several hours. Clara was bored to tears and she also wasn't feeling well at the time. She stood up and walked outside, closing her jacket. The wind was freezing. All she saw was a row of high rises and some hasty vehicles that accompanied the traffic of the misty streets. She also noticed the masses of pedestrians that passed her, the various Caucasian faces gazing at her with the cold glimpses of their pale eyes, looking how much she differed from them. She suddenly felt lonely and deserted like a dove lost in the endless eternity. She faced the urban sprawl and felt the cold breeze of the wind, and slowly began to cry. Her mother came out in dismay and tried to make an effort to soother her and bring her back in the restaurant. Memories are like pictures that last in our minds. Those were among the first images she had in memory; her first days in the No man's Land were she now lives. All that happened a long time ago.
The clock stroked at eleven o'clock in the evening. Everything was quiet and all lights were closed. Clara now closed her eyes and slowly fell in deep slumber…
Darkness. Sometimes, when I am alone, I often think of you. I sense deep inside that you are always by my side. You just don't realize how much I suffer without you. I only want to be with you, I always feel so all alone. But if I come to you, would you still take me in your arms again and keep me safe and warm or will you just run away? Why do we have to be so far apart, why am I always lonesome in the darkness where no one cares for me? What is the sense of all this? I need you here so I can embrace you once again as you once always did. When I am alone, I often close my eyes just to see you smiling again but having you like this doesn't make me happy at all. It's all tears; all I can do is just cry. Can't you appear and take all this pain away? Every now and then, I feel the darkness inside me and I need you more than ever because this strain keeps growing every day, like a total eclipse in my heart. I am only falling apart without you.
This was moment Clara was waiting for. She was standing in a vast meadow in a field of golden sunflowers and green hills before the indigo horizon of the sky, waiting, as if she was suspended between time and space. There she remained lonely underneath a colossal tree until she sighted a figure approaching from a distance. From far away, she noticed a tall guy nearing towards her. It might be the person has been waiting for all her life. She noticed the person running towards her. And suddenly, lonesomeness found no place in her heart anymore. She recognized the face. It was Julian. 'Life isn't always depressing after all', she thought. She smiled and embraced him with open arms since there was nothing more to hide. They strongly cuddled on to each other as if they were both inseparable. Just like words to a melody, they belonged to each other. Behind them were ranges of alpine mountains and a panoramic lake with a volcanic island within. The warmth of the sun's rays gave justice to their tanned brown tones, healthy and glowing as they were. They both looked at each other making a pact of their salvation. All at once, she felt trapped in a dream world where she wanted to remain eternally…
A sudden strong pounding emerged the wooden door of her room. Clara opened her eyes as her mother entered the room disappointedly.
"You'd better get up, if you don't want to miss the next tram. You're already late for class." She said irritated as she suddenly opened the curtains of the room.
Sunlight came into Clara's eyes as she struggled to look at the clock at a hurried pace. It was already 7:30 in the morning. She closed her eyes for a while and lied under her blanket as her mother left the room. And there he was. She saw him again. But she knew that dreams were not real. There were only mere reflections of the inner fears and desires of man.
It was just within a matter of weeks when Clara would receive the letter of Julian's sudden death. He has died recently died of leukemia. Clara almost broke down when she found out about it. But time has helped her come over it. And somehow, this mental disorder she has had for the past months began to take toll. On the first advent of Christmas, she visited a nearby church and lit a candle for him. She kneeled towards the altar and thought about her fate.
Sometimes in life, there is a point when we are left in despair and we can only cry in agony. But there are also things that should rather be kept secret in our hearts. Sometimes, we don't realize that there are angels who live among us. I am thankful that I have met someone like you; I'll always have you in mind for someone like you appears only once in a lifetime. If only I had known that I would lose you, I would have stayed with you from the very beginning. Until then, all I'll have is a memory of you that I will always hold on to. It's because of you; I've learned how to live with confidence. You gave sense to my being. I will never forget you. Every moment we've together lives in my heart. I guess everything would be better this way. Thank you for everything we have both gone through, thank you for giving me the gift of love and joy…the gift of life.
PS: This is the first story I've ever written in my entire life on my own interest. Please understand if there are any errors. I wrote it as of this summer of 2004, close towards the end of the school year of 8th grade. This story was supposed to be an introduction of a very long novel but I stopped at some point being upset at my own work. So I laid it aside. Months later, I stumbled upon it in my files and had others to read it. In my surprise, I received very positive remarks. So I decided to edit it and turn it into a novella. Now, I am working on the novel, which is based on this short story. I hope you enjoy it and please try to understand my beginner skills in writing, thank you.
Copyright © 2004 Pietros Val Patricio, Berlin