My coffee in hand, I step out on the porch. I take a deep breath of fresh air; jasmine, roses, freesias and then on the second breath there is something else, something more exquisite…an aroma you can feel only here, a mixture of earth and sea…salty and seductive and then again earthy and secure.
I close my eyes and raise my head to the sky. I feel the sun warm my face. It’s a lovely sensation. The warmth seeps in me. It makes me feel better, stronger, eager to start anew…to face a new day.
I open my eyes again and take a sip of my coffee. I smile. This is my morning pleasure; a ritual I perform ever since that day. My thoughts get distracted by a small butterfly. I follow her journey. She rests on a yellow freesia. I can’t tell which one impresses me more, the vibrant flower or the intricate patterns on her wings. I don’t want to scare her, but I wish I could touch her. She reminds me of how beautiful life can be….of how things can change only for the better. She gives me hope. I smile at her.
She decides to leave and I let my eyes follow her again. Flowers, tall grass, the leaves on the trees, they all sway in a rhythm I can’t hear. They follow the light breeze in a dance unparalleled to what a man can create. The sun joins them in, shining brightly from above like the spotlight in a concert, and here come the musicians competing who will sound louder. Oh, those beautiful little birds, chirping gleefully under the bluest cloudless sky.
I take another sip and listen to their song. I enjoy it. It calms me.
As if I have been called, though, I turn my eyes towards her. There, in the distance, I can see her glistening under the sun. My lure! I can hear her siren call. It’s irresistible. She needs me. I need her. I’ve been avoiding her for so long. You love her too, that’s why.
I still don’t know if I should go to her. She will remind me of so many things I am trying to forget. I keep my eyes there. Her call is getting louder, persistent. I want to but I can’t avert my eyes. I can hear her sing my name. She is luring me in. It’s ear-splitting now. I can’t shut her out any longer. She has won.
I look in the mirror. I’m not sure I like what I see. I don’t recognise me. I finish brushing my teeth and I attempt another look. A woman is staring back at me. I touch my face making sure this is me. When did I become a woman? I have always seen myself as a girl. Her eyes are familiar, grey-blue, just like mine. She seems weary, though…troubled.
I touch the edges of those eyes. “20 something then,” I say, stretching the skin upwards. “30 something now,” I mumble, as it returns to its prior position. I sigh. I am not a girl anymore and I wish I could say it is all right because I am wiser. Am I? I wonder. I don’t know. I am not sure about anything anymore.
I pinch my cheeks and it gives me a touch of colour. A little pink, a nice contrast to my rather pale complexion. I decide I want to be pretty today…for me…for you.
I have a feeling this is the day I will see you again. I grin ear to ear. I apply my make-up, a thin black line around my eyes to make the blue stand out more, a light earth-brown eye-shadow that matches my hair and just a touch of that pink lipstick you like to see me put on and kiss away from my lips. I fluff my hair out and I take one last look in the mirror. I am happy with the result. You will be too…I know.
I head back to my bedroom and search through my clothes. I discover that lovely blue sundress I was wearing the day we first met. I remember how you couldn’t take your eyes off of me then. The thought makes me happy. I want to see that look on your face again. My heart beats faster. I can’t wait for it. I can’t wait to be with you.
I change the sheets on my bed. You like to sleep in clean ones that smell like flowers. I am dreaming of holding your hand over my heart and feeling your lips on my back as we lie there as spoons. I have a look around the room, everything seems tidy here. I move to the kitchen. Some dirty dishes await for me. I wash them and check the fridge.
What should I cook for you? I muse. You like my cooking anyhow, but maybe your favourite? Yes! Spaghetti and chicken in spicy sauce.
I take the chicken out of the freezer and I start chopping the peppers as I wait for the chicken to defrost. It needs more time, so I pick up my gardening scissors and head out. I climb down the marble steps and stop in front of the rose beds. I cut a few of the red ones, your favourite, and add a few of the white ones as well. I bring the bouquet closer to my nose and take a whiff. Perfect! I have always liked their perfume. So sweet!
As I return inside, I notice my home. A typical islander’s house: whitewashed walls and blue shutters. The paint is flaking off a bit. Maybe, you will fix that as you promised once. I shrug my shoulders. It doesn’t really matter. Even like that my home has character and every corner of it is filled with love. Our love!
I start my cooking. As I move around the room, I hum your favourite song. I let the chicken stew. In the meantime, I dust the furniture in the living room and sweep the floor. I want everything to be spotless for your arrival. I can feel it so strongly now. Today, we will be together again!
After finishing, I go back to the kitchen and start the spaghetti. It’s not long since everything is ready. I take out my best china and serve our food on the dining room table. I cover it so that it keeps warm and I look out of the window. Time has passed without my realising. It’s time for me to go to her. It’s time I found you.
I lock the door behind me and take the way towards the beach. It won’t take me long to get there, I know it; it’s about a ten-minute brisk walk, but I’m not in a hurry. She will be there. She is always waiting for me there. I am sure you will join us too. I decide to make this walk last; breathe the fragrant air around me as I pass by fields, overgrown with colourful wildflowers; absorb every tiny detail on my path; feel the very essence of this island seeping through my veins slowly, filling me with gratitude towards an unseen God that bestowed me with the gift of living here.
Will Paradise feel like this? my inner voice wonders, as I search the sky for a sign. I let out a sigh, returning to my reality when I remember that I stopped believing in God after that day.
I keep my pace slow and my eyes roam my surroundings. Maybe, I still believe. I know HE created all the beauty I am witnessing right now. Maybe, that’s why my steps get slower by the minute. I can’t be tired; I’ve only walked for a few minutes. So, why do I feel like my feet weigh a ton? Why am I stalling our meeting? Is it possible that this fatigue is the sign I was looking for?
“Are you stalling me?” I say to no one in particular up in the sky. I get no answer, but I continue talking, “My mind has been made up. This is the day I will meet him. You can’t stop me! You will not stop me! Not this time!”
I pick up my pace and with renewed energy and more determination than I’ve ever felt, I arrive at the beach in the next couple of minutes. I check my watch; it’s almost five. The sun will set soon. I’ll just sit here on the wooden bench by the pier and wait for you…
I gaze out to the sea. She is calm, only tiny ripples reaching the shore very, very slowly. Their sound echoes loudly, though, in my ears. My lure… My siren…
She is calling me again. I have no one to tie me on this wooden bench. I am not strong as Odysseus. I cannot escape her beautiful song. I close my eyes and lean back for a minute, hoping I could maybe find the strength to drown her call. She has enchanted me, though, and the more I sit here and wait for you, the more ground she gains on me. She is stronger than me…stronger than anyone…
My eyes fling open and I look at her. I know that her calmness is just a lull before the storm. She is mocking at me. She knows I can’t leave this time. She knows she has me.
The sun is starting to set now. I want to walk on the beach. I climb down the few steps from the pier and walk till the far end of the beach. No one else is here. I am alone now… just me…holding my shoes in one hand. You should have been holding the other. You would have if you were here.
“Don’t you love the feeling of the sand under your feet?” I had asked you once.
I do. I’ve always had. It feels so comfortingly warm. It melts the ice in my heart. As you would have… if you were here.
I test the water now. Just my toe in. As I always did and you laughed… Remember? It is delightfully cool. You would have loved it, even gone in for a swim. I smile… You always loved the sea.
I let my eyes drift on her again. See those pinks and oranges in the sky? So beautiful… I always loved watching the sunsets with you. You would have kissed me a thousand times by now. I sigh… You would have… If only you were here now…
I remember meeting you on a hot July day. Just out of the blue, you came into my life and I welcomed your presence. I needed someone like you. You fascinated me. I needed to feel again and you gave me that much. You said I was beautiful and I could really see it. In your eyes, I was THE most beautiful woman in the world. You said you wanted to kiss me and I welcomed your touch, your passion, your longing for me…
You held me in your arms and I thought I had found my shelter. You said “I will be here for you; I will help you through it all,” and then…
You were gone…
At first, I thought it would be for a few days and I kept waiting for you. I didn’t need much; just a word to let me know you are all right, but there’s still no news from you.
But I keep waiting…
And I wonder…
Will you ever come back to me? Will I ever feel safe again?
Will you leave me with just a memory?
My eyes well up and tears streak down my cheeks. I wipe them away quickly. I don’t want to cry for you. I can’t let you do this to me again. I want to be happy from now on. I look around me; still no sign of you. The beach has emptied too. I am sure you will come, though. I can feel it.
My head snaps back towards the sea. That was your voice. I wouldn’t have mistaken it for anything. But I can’t see you anywhere.
“Where are you?” I call out.
“Come in, baby! I’m here!”
“I can’t see you,” I reply.
“Come in, honey! The water is great!”
“That’s what you always say!” I laugh. “And then, I am the one shivering.”
“I will warm you with my kisses. Come in!”
I close my eyes for a moment and breathe deeply. I want your touch so desperately it hurts. I can already feel your hot lips raining my skin with kisses. I shiver and it’s not from the light cool breeze. I lust for you.
I send out the happiest smile. “I’ve always enjoyed your kisses,” I say, as I start getting into the water.
It feels colder, the deeper I get and my sundress clings to me, making my movements a bit more difficult.
“That’s it, Baby! Come to me!” you call out again. “Just a little further now!”
I keep walking. I follow your voice. I know I am almost there. I know I will find your hiding place soon. I know you will emerge to the surface and take me into your arms suddenly. As you always did, trying to scare me.
“A few more steps now!” you say again, encouraging me to go deeper and deeper. I can’t reach the bottom any more.
“A little more, a little more…”
I try to get to you, but it’s hard now. I feel tired. My limbs are heavy. I can’t swim… and my dress is weighing me down.
“That’s it! Come into my arms now!”
I fall under water. It is dark and I am cold. I wish you could hug me now…warm me…but I can’t find you anywhere. I look around me. I reach out, but still nothing. And the water gets colder and colder as darkness fully engulfs me.
“Where are you?” I say, without mouthing the words. I don’t have to; I know you can hear me when I talk to you.
“I’m here!” you say, as you emerge in front of me.
I see you. You are as handsome as ever; your straight black hair, your glistening green eyes, your well-built figure I crave to touch once more. I finally see you… My heart sings out to you… I smile…
“I knew you would come.”
You smile back. That beautiful radiant smile of yours that has me melt every time.
“I knew you wouldn’t leave me.”
“Come here, love!” you say and put your arms around me, holding me tight.
So tight that I can’t breathe.
You press your lips on mine and kiss me hard. Our tongues mingle in a passionate dance. I wrap my arms around your neck, entwining my fingers through your hair. I have a strong hold on you now. You will not leave again. But I can feel that you don’t want to either; not without me anyway…
You suck the life out of me but I don’t mind. I am safe again. I am with you…