When she cries, it's a long-far call to my past. I remember a lot of things when she cries; it's as if she's been keeping my memories locked up inside of her, and when the memories become too much, or when she understands that I'm no longer afraid of them—she lets them leak out, one by one. I catch them as they fall, most of the time without meaning to. Memories always have a way of finding their way back home.
You may call me a stranger, and I'll call you the same thing. You may call me a friend, and I'll question your sanity. You may call me whatever you wish, but I have one thing left to say. What I tell is a love story: nothing more, and certainly nothing less. It's old and it's rusted, and I can't quite seem to rub away the stains on the corners, but it's a love story—that much I can tell. You can listen and forget, or you can not listen at all, and I'll forgive you. It's your choice to open the ears or not, or keep them closed for what you may call a better time and place.
For those who decide to listen, I'll warn you ahead of time: I'm not very good at story-telling (she never had the time to teach me all of it), but I'll try my best. It's the most I can do for her, because that's always what she did.
One day she was crying, the little girl, on a bench in a park. I can't remember how I found her, or why I happened to be there that day. It was just a feeling; the sort of feeling that works against you. It was a day in April when I found her.
Her knees were knobby and she hid herself behind them as she cried, small little kitten sobs. I think she had stayed overnight on that bench, cried herself to sleep. The tears had dried in little tracts on her cheeks.
"Hello," I said.
She looked up at me with a piteous red in her eyes, snuffled loudly and shrunk away from me. I didn't mind, because I didn't know her very well right then. I didn't know who she was.
"Who are you?" she asked, as any child might when approached by a stranger. She shook the bangs out of her eyes to squint at me, and I looked back at her in turn. I still remember that look, the first time I met her; it's funny how I can't forget, when I can so easily forget the brand of peanut butter I spread on my sandwiches.
"I don't know," I said. "You tell me."
She looked at me strangely for a moment, considering the words I had spoken. There was a stirring of mouse-paw wind. Then her shoulders straightened and I could see behind her a very different girl.
Her eyes were blue.
"I think…you are lost," she said, and the ring of her voice was definite and unshakable, the voice of a prophetess. I could hear it sounding a thousand miles off.
"Maybe I am," I said, and couldn't help but believe the truth in her words.
She sniffled again and looked off to the sky. They were gray-blue and clearing from last night's rain.
"What are you doing here?" she asked, looking at me intently.
"I could ask you the same thing," I said. She pouted a little, and it was then I noticed the blue gloss of her lips.
"How long have you been here?"
"Huh?" Her eyes narrowed barely. "I don't know. Why should you care?"
I stared at her. "I don't," I said simply.
"Then you should mind your own business and leave me alone," she spat, turning away from me, hugging her knees tight.
I shrugged. "Okay. Sorry."
I shuffled away about 11 steps when she called out to me, in a quavering voice.
"Wait! Wait…" she said. It was the strangest thing I'd ever heard, her voice. "I didn't mean it. Please…don't leave."
So I stayed.
It was a night in May when she lost me. I know I shouldn't skip to the end so soon (she'd told me that you always start from the beginning, then go to the middle, and then end at the end), but I've told you before that I'm not a good story teller. Don't worry, though. I'll get to the middle.
May means clear nights out in the park. I'd spent many with her, and we'd listen to the crickets. They'd sing for us, and they'd sing to us their souls. The fireflies would dance and I'd watch them light up her pale face with green. She'd laugh at my face illuminated, though I never understood why.
That night it rained a pure rain. I tasted a few drops; let them fall on my tongue. (She taught me the angle at which to open your mouth so that the taste of the rain-water is the sweetest.) They tasted of summer grass and the Milky Way (astronomical precipitation). It puzzled me, and I thought: maybe they know, too. Maybe I'm not the only one. How far has she reached?
It was her day, and the thunder called her name.
I don't know where this came from...just an itch. I've written more, but I'll post it up later. It's going to be a multi-chapter! By gosh!