I lay down in the warm summer grass and closed my eyes as the sun beamed brightly overhead. The sun’s rays bathed me in their warmth, gently caressing my body. As the afternoon wore on, I let my consciousness drift away to a different time.
Along with the sunlight, I now felt two arms holding me in their embrace. I open my eyes and look into a pair of chocolate-colored eyes smiling down at me, with mischief hidden in their depths. She leaned down and gently brushed her lips against mine, slowly taking my breath away. I was so happy. I was so blinded.
We were so good together. We were so wrong together. The first time we met was at a house party near the end of my junior year of high school. I was unaware of so much back then, including lacking understanding of who I was. I had so much to learn, not that I know all that much now.
She approached me and asked me to dance. I had seen her around, but never had an opportunity to actually speak to one another. We more or less ran in the same circles, but always going in different directions and never fully syncing up. I don’t know what was different this time, but whatever it was I’m glad she took the initiative to approach me, because Lord knows I didn’t have the confidence for it. At least not back then.
“Dance with me.”
More of a command, rather than a question, but I knew I still had the choice. She held out her hand expectantly. I looked into her eyes and saw for just a second, doubt. Doubt that perhaps her confidence was about to fail her…I smiled and took her hand. She smiled back, momentary doubt all, but forgotten. She pulled me close to her and we began moving to the music. It was she and I, the rest of the world forgotten. She led and I followed. She was used to it. She was used to getting what she wanted. Everything from her demeanor to her physicality demanded that. But, that night, she met her match in me. At one point as we locked eyes, I saw her falter, and I, ever the opportunist, took over. Now I was in charge. I led.
That became the premise of our relationship. I should have known. We were too alike; too controlling, both wanting too much, both giving a little too much, both selfish, and both so hopelessly lost in each other.
When we were good, we were in a heaven no human beings or God could contemplate. We learned each other. We never finished each other’s sentences, because we read each other’s minds. I told her my past, my fears, my dreams, my setbacks, and my shortcomings. She opened herself the same way and let me into her mind and let me take everything that was hers. Without a question or hesitation. She understood me and I her. We gave and gave, never once thinking what would happen, when we had nothing left to give. Never once thinking that was even a possibility.
Then came the bad. When we were angry, there was no red that even the devil could conjure up fiercer than our fire. We fought so hard. We fought so hard, that only our love was as comparable. Where once was a girl who I thought had told me everything that she was, there now came to light her most redeeming and faltering quality. The truth began to surface. She was loyal to someone else, perhaps not as she was loyal to me, but she was loyal to those who showed her compassion and those she called her own. She was loyal to a game that I could never accept. A game that I had tried so hard to get out of for so long and she was a player all along. We fought so hard, we cried so many tears that I didn’t want this for her, we lashed out at each other, but at the end of the day, she was loyal to those who showed her loyalty. She had to play one more game; she had to, because her people looked to her to win this one last game.
The night she left me, she said, “I want you to always remember the dreams you have for yourself. No one can take those from you. Your words will change worlds one day.”
She never said good-bye. She didn’t have to. That night something seemed so final. As she slipped away from me that night, something deep within my core told me to tell her to stop. Told me to call her back and hold her tight, because if I let her go, I would never hold her again.
There was nothing that I could do. She loved me. More than life itself as I found out later, when it was too late. The last game that she was to play involved a deal that would have left everyone comfortable for the rest of their lives. I’m purposely vague. The details of what we did or were involved in are not what matter. That was our prerogative, not anyone else’s.
She went out to meet someone that I learned too late was a person who I was supposed to meet with. It turned out that, yes she was loyal to those she played the game with, but she was loyal to me the most. She took my place that night. She made sure I would not find out until after it was said and done. She knew what she was in for and the possibility that she would not come out of it alive did not faze her the slightest.
Hope against hope I waited for something. I waited with my phone in hand with abated breath. She had to come back. We had given each other so much. There was no way God would play such a cruel game with us and end it this way. There was no way that she wasn’t going to hold me again underneath the afternoon sun in the warm bed of grass.
And yet, here I lay seven years after that fateful night when she held me one last time. I was back. I was lying in the warm bed of grass, with the sunshine hitting my face full on, my eyes closed. I finally figured it out. Why she did what she did. She ran up against this wall that screamed in her face, what now? What now that she had given everything that she could to me and there was nothing more that she could offer? She had the answer and that was her life. She gave her life for me to live mine. She gave it all up.
As I lay there still and silent taking in my photosynthesis, I grew a little. I felt a warm wind breeze over my body, embracing me and I realized I was being held one last time. This time our ending was complete. I felt her there next to me, over me, and in me. I felt her fire. I knew that if I opened my eyes this time, it would not be hers that would be looking down at me. She had come to say good-bye. She had come to tell me to go out there and live. Live in a way that she did not get to. I heard her voice; so familiar, as though so many years had not passed, but rather a mere few seconds.
“Live again. Live for those who never got the opportunity. Live for me. Live for me until you learn to live for yourself again…”
And then silence once more. There was nothing left of her presence, but my now tear-streaked face. It was time to let her go and let me grow. So, I breathed her in one last time and opened my eyes.