The summer of 2003. My first official encounter with the infamous "summer romance," or, as it is more cynically named, the "summer fling," notorious for its ephemeral nature. My summer days were a whirlwind of spontaneous adventures, chocolates, flowers, passionate kisses, secret rendezvous, midnight beach outings, moonlit strolls, hushed whispers of sweet nothings and "you're the most beautiful girl in the world," and declarations of love and promises and promises and promises. I was fifteen, he was seventeen, and it was great, it was perfect. Everything was perfect.
I walked around in a daze, intoxicated with "love," surviving solely on my emotions. His kisses, intense and breathtaking, could always satisfy my hunger; thirst was no longer an issue, for I became drunk with the mere sight of him—he was gorgeous. An Italian-Filipino mix with jet-black hair and caramel-colored skin, one smoldering glance from his light brown eyes (which were shaded by Bambi-like eyelashes) could stop me amid whatever I was doing and make me forget to breathe. His smile, an adorable, dimpled smile that more closely resembled a half-smirk, could make you believe there were no one else in the world except you two. In fact, I had begun to think that everyone else was living a separate existence from us, that we were in our own world, a world fueled by his actions and my reactions. I was addicted to his smiles, his kisses, his glances, and I could never get enough.
And there were his promises. Sometimes whispered, sometimes spoken aloud with his voice that made me giddy with its downright masculinity, sometimes written in a mushy Hallmark card accompanied by another "just because" present, his promises filled the void in my heart—or rather, in my existence—that reappeared whenever he bid me goodbye. "He loves me, he would never hurt me, and he would never leave me." These words, which were nothing but lousy, abbreviated versions of the aforementioned promises, became my mantra. I would chant them quietly to myself whenever we'd have an argument—and our fights were just as passionate and intense as everything else between us—or whenever I'd get deprived of any physical stimuli of him, or, basically, whenever my ecstasy gauge faltered a notch.
Yes, I was only fifteen, too young for the commitment I'd believed I'd wanted. Yes, I was innocent and naïve and had no idea what I was doing. But I know that what I'd felt had been real; the passion, the intensity that was inherent in everything we did together—I hadn't imagined it. Besides, I'd learned to build my entire world around him, around everything he would say or do, that I had no choice but to believe what we had was lasting. If he left, if he went away, he who was the foundation for my very existence, everything around me would collapse. I had nothingif not him.
Yet one day, despite my efforts, my whole world fell apart.
She was beautiful, honey-colored waves cascading to her waist, with the face of an angel. Her skin was the color of butter pecan ice cream. She was beautiful. She was beautiful, and I hated her, I hated her so much that I couldn't turn away. Not unlike one who, even with an aversion to the sight of blood, continually watched explicitly gory films, I was both enthralled and disgusted with the sight, compelled to watch as the heart-wrenching scene before me unfolded. Two of the most beautiful people I'd ever seen, his fingers—which I'd considered mine for so long—intertwined with hers.
Then he kissed her.
I closed my eyes, my emotions battling with my inner masochism, and reopened them after a few seconds. The masochist in me had won. It wasn't disappointed—his mouth was still on hers. The mouth that I'd worshipped the past few months, those lips that had fed my hunger the whole summer—they were tainted with her essence now. His kisses, his smiles, his hands, everything that had been sustaining me for so long, they were no longer mine alone to claim. Maybe they never had been.
Nothing longer mattered. He had permeated my whole being, and now that he'd gone, I had nothing left. He'd even taken my tears with him—I couldn't cry, not at first; I didn't even have the energy, for he had been my sole energy source. Besides, crying meant giving him up completely, permanently. I couldn't let her have him.
I attempted to stay numb for as long as possible, but everything hurt so much, I could only fight myself for so long. Every night I'd scream silently into the darkness that enveloped me. Every night I'd wish, with every fiber of my being, that the aching would end, that he'd come back and make the pain go away. I'd even decided that I'd gladly share him with her—with anyone actually—as long as it meant I could experience him again. All I wanted was for him to hold me like he used to, for him to kiss me and whisper that he loved me, that everything would be okay. I wanted, needed, to be held by him, so badly that my being cried out with desperation from lack of it. I'd see his face every time I closed my eyes, would dream of him whenever sleep would temporarily relieve my sorrow, and awaken feeling emptier and lonelier than I'd ever felt. If only he would just talk to me again.
But he never even apologized.
I still see him around, and sometimes we'd talk casually of meeting up for the weekend, but neither of us would ever follow through—and just as well. His smile, his voice, his gaze, even the mere sight of him, still had the same effect on me, perhaps not as intense, but distinct enough for me to notice. Every once in a while one look at him would send slivers of agony through my heart, and although they disappeared within a second or two, they were a reminder of our horrible ending, of the most miserable period of my life. It was enough to keep me from getting too close again.
Some called it just another learning experience. "He's just another silly boy," they would squawk knowingly, as if he was a common occurrence among teenage girls. As if what we had was nothing but a rite of passage and the emotional suffering I'd endured was a mere step closer to womanhood. But that summer had meant so much more to me; he meant so much more to me, he was much more special than that. I'd willingly handed him my heart, not expecting it back, not even wanting it back, yet he returned it anyway. He'd forced me to accept it again, practically pried my fist open and shoved it between my resistant fingers. Except he kept a piece of it for himself. A piece of my heart, of my soul, of my being, that I would never, ever get back—and God knows how I've tried. Throughout everything, he has held onto it, whether voluntarily or not, and I've decided it's his to keep forever.
I've decided that I don't ever want it back.