8.07.2019

The other story



It’s been so long since his name was last heard...
Since everything has changed and started to seem dark. All of a sudden, everything that was beautiful fell to pieces into time’s sharp claws.

He was always so afraid of getting hurt again. Always repeating the same old question every time they met: "Are you staying?"
No, she could not stay and wouldn’t be back either unless he would use every single word to say, letter by letter, what she was willing to hear since forever.
She always had the impression that he never thought about it, but he also couldn’t understand why she never called, why she never said anything? But she did: she wrote, every day, stories about kings in distant kingdoms, loved by their queens like no one before. She told their story, with all of its possible endings, more times then he could possibly read.

There was a time when she simply couldn’t avoid him to be her first thought in the morning and last before closing her eyes at night. He was everywhere: in every meal, every movie, and every book. And she searched for him in every city, every list, everywhere. His absence was a touchable presence.

Life has passed by, years were gone, thus having their names forgotten somewhere in the past, both of them had each other kept in some corner of their minds. It was a name to be remembered when the sky was red. It was a story to remember when the fluid would leak out of the zippo’s sponge greasing their hands. It was something to be remembered in full moon nights, alone on the beach, alone in the dark, alone… Just a memory.
And day after day these memories got scarce...

Her silver hair fell over her face in that cold morning, while she warmed her hands around the coffee mug turning the computer on so she could write. Pajamas, scarf, wool socks, coffee, cigarettes and her zippo, that was all she needed to spend the winter writing.
She opened the emails she's got from work, the five discussions groups and countless junk mails coming from the most absurd products, and she didn’t have any urge to read anything. Except for a name that caught her eye, a name that was seen before. "Where have I heard this name?"


"Mariana,
You probably don’t know me, but I know who you are. I need to talk to you about my dad. He’s an old friend of yours, and I think it’s time for you to know what is happening to him. Please, reply this e-mail with your phone number, and I’ll call you today.
I really need to talk to you. Please, don’t ignore me.

T.Ross"

She read it and read it again, trying not to be taken by any lost memory. Who else could that be? Was that a joke? No… who would dare?... How old could that kid be? Twenty nine? Thirty years old?
She was never able to understand the reason why she's never met this boy. Protecting his kid became his major goal in life. Perfect! Good for the boy but, why would she ever hurt the man of her dreams' kid? How come he never knew she would love every little piece of his life? In the other hand, he was almost right... The boy would certainly feel safe in her presence, but she would leave, so they would now be two people without her. Actually, who knows if he ever had this thought? Anyway, he built a fortress around himself that made her feel uninvited, so that she kept herself out of his life in respect for his feelings.

She was open, given, cheerful, and transparent! She offered him a lot of love and he got it all, getting drunk of this love so violently. He would keep every little crumb of love she left behind from a gesture, a piece of clothing or a gift she’d brought him. She would leave keeping his words and his taste on her mouth for a long time... leaving her heart behind , taking with her the greatest crazy dream...in silence. Or almost.
With no second thought she answered the kid's email and couldn’t write any other line that day. She wouldn’t exist until the phone rings once, but it would only happen in the next day.

- Hello
- Mariana?
- Yes, who’s this?
- Tarik Ross. You don’t know me… I’m Daren’s…
- I know who you are, Tarik.
- Great...Mariana, I don’t even know where to begin.
- How’s your father doing?
- Well, he’s not that fine.
- What happened?
- He’s not sick or anything. He just lets this huge depression take him over. He doesn’t have any physical symptoms, it’s just the depression taking its toll. He’s giving me a hard time because he won’t eat, won’t go out of bed, won’t get out of the house. He’s underweight and sometimes I have to take him to the hospital so he’ll be nurtured. It’s too damn hard.
- Gosh, Tarik, but…
- I’m sorry I’m calling you, but I’ve been looking up his stuff. I read things you’ve written to each other, I thought I had to find you.
- I see… You did the right thing. Are you telling me he still saves the things I wrote him?
- Yes. Pretty much everything. I’ve always heard your name, Mariana. Since I got a bit older he started talking about you. Last year was when he most mentioned your name, told me stories, showed me your pictures.
- He did?
- Yes. And there's a picture of yours in his bedroom, since forever. He used to say you are the most gorgeous girl he ever met.
- He has a picture of me in his bedroom?
- You have no idea of the things he has...And I...I don’t know how to say this...
- Speak up, Tarik.
- Sorry to ssay that, but I’m afraid you guys die without seeing each other again.

Mariana’s eyes were drowned in tears since she first heard Tarik say her name, but now the weight of old promises said barefoot on the sand fell on her shoulders, bringing all tears in the world.

- What about you, Mariana? Are you okay?
- Yeah. Life is good... And I'm here: wet eyes, not knowing if I explode in joy for I’ve always been present in your father’s life, or if I die for I’ve lost him for such a long time. Today, just like twenty years ago, nothing has changed as you can see.
- But... do you have somebody? Are you married?
- No. What do you want from me, Tarik, be clear.
- I want you to come over and stay close to him, Mariana. I think you can save my Dad.

It was such a storm of memories coming back, fears, joy, tears, everything at the same time. What is this life that makes people wait more than twenty years to find each other and actually only do it shortly before death?
Mariana cried that day, more then she did in the last five years, remembering the nights she lied in her bed asking to dream of him. In her dreams his hugs were real. He, the king of embraces, with his huge body taking every inch of hers. There was no hug like his, not even in ten thousand love stories.

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The sea was calm as every other day at the canal. The boats drew the water with their white traces, warning us the day was born. Little by little the windows got opened to let the summer sun come in. That’s the way it was, every single morning, at the Ross’ house.
Through the opened window we could see the lifeguard’s tower that kept the secrets of this story.

-Dad, would you come down for breakfast?

Tarik sets the table putting a cereal box on it.

-Dad! Come down!

He goes upstairs and opens his father’s bedroom door to find Daren lying in his bed looking so skinny. He was once a strong healthy man, handsome with his golden skin and shinny eyes that were now dull for his constant sorrow.

- Dad, breakfast’s ready!
- Go ahead and eat it.
- I’m not eating without you, dad. By the way, that's a great idea! If you don’t eat I don’t eat. Then you’ll have to get out of this bed to take care of me.
- Oh, kid... Don’t do that to me. Leave me here and go for your life.
- Dad... There’s no "my life" with you lying there.

The telephone rang interrupting the conversation – which seemed to make Daren happy, since he had a few more minutes of peace. Tarik answers the phone:

-Hello? ... Hi. Where are you? ... Good! No, not at all, I insist.

Tarik turns his backs and speaks low to avoid being heard by his father.

-No! "I" invited you, so you come home.

He hangs up and goes back to his father:

- Dad, come on, get up.
- Who was that?
- Nobody.
- Who is "coming home"?
- Life, dad! Life’s knocking on the door! If I were you I’d get all dressed up to have breakfast, because LIFE itself will find you wearing these terrible pajamas!

Daren gets up complaining and walks towards the bathroom.

-Life! ...Ha! Life has taken me down. Now it wants to ruin my breakfast!
Tarik throws a towel at him.
-Go ahead and take a shower, you look like dirt!

Daren shut the door whining and babbling from inside the bathroom.

- If I knew you’d grow up to boss me around, I’d leave you with your mom, to become a fucking nerd!
- No way, old man! I’d be here anyhow.
Daren opens the door again:
- Tell me it's not your mother who’s coming down.
- No dad, relax! No one’s coming down.
- Oh, good! That would be a killer!

Tarik went downstairs laughing, happy for his father was up and more talkative than usual. Complaints are all he has to say, but still, it’s better than when he seems not to be in this world.
Later on, the bell rang.
He opened the door to find Mariana, with her silver hair messed by the wind, backs to the door. She had a big red suitcase, a hand bag and a lost look into the sea.

- Mariana?
- When you gave me the address, I couldn’t imagine THIS was the house.
- Have you been here before?
- Once, many years ago. Is there still a tower on the beach?
- My father’s tower? Sure. At the same spot.

Mariana smiled to Tarik.

- Welcome to our house, Mariana.
- Thanks Tarik. You look just like your father, you know?
- Can’t deny it. And you... seems to me that time’s on your side.
- I wish! Let’s do it? Face the beast?

Tarik got her suitcase and made room for Mariana to go in first.
- He doesn’t know you’re here.
- What? But he should know! Oh my...
- Come on, Mariana. Stay cool. It's all right.

They both got inside the house quietly. Mariana could only hear the loud heart beat inside her chest, and her face couldn’t hide a nervous smile.

Tarik took Mariana by her shoulders looking straight into her eyes:

- Thank you for coming. You don’t know what it means to me.

Mariana pulled Tarik close to her and held him in a long embrace.

- Tell ME about it… You know what? I always wanted to hold you like this?

He led Mariana to the kitchen and went up the stairs:

- Dad?
- Who was that?
- Mail! There’s a package for you.
- Oh! I thought it was “Life”! Leave it there. It’s probably nothing.
- Well, I think it's something.
Daren appeared at the top of the stairway.
- Why so?
- Because it’s from Brazil.

Daren went down the stairs faster than he actually could and slower than an average person.
- Where is it?
- Don’t run, dad.
- I’m old, I'm not dead. Where’s the package?

He walked around the living room looking for the package. Mariana got at the kitchen's door, leaning over it calmly:

- Here.

Tarik would not move waiting to know what his father’s reaction would be . Daren simply froze... He turned around slowly, not believing the voice he just heard. At the door, Mariana had an open smile on her face and eyes shining like it used to, years before. During a few seconds – almost eternity – this is what happened: Daren was paralyzed by Mariana’s bright eyes, she was smiling at the door, staring at the only face her tricky mind would not allow her to forget. Tarik slowly sat on the steps while the silence remained. Only the seagulls dared to move outside...
But Mariana’s voice broke the silence:

- In my story, this is your cue to hold me.

Daren couldn’t move, but something in his eyes has changed. An old sparkle seemed to be suddenly born again, bringing a discrete smile, but a happy one.

-In MY story, this is YOUR cue to come over here.

Without a word, Mariana walked across the living room getting closer to Daren. As she got close enough, she slightly moved her face, as she was asking what else she should do.
A few more seconds of this eloquent silence...Their eyes speaking louder than tongues ever could in all the years that passed. Daren and Mariana were just standing there. Not a single word spoken.
Daren touched Mariana’s face. She closed her eyes and leaned her head against the hand she had written about so many times. He moved his fingers around her eyes, her lips, moved the silver hair out of her face and smiled. Mariana had tears in her eyes again, just like many times before.
Daren Ross has always had the power to move her, just for being himself : his look has always been her weakness, his presence always her surrender.

Daren leaned his forehead against hers and said:

- What took you so long…?

Hugs. Kisses. Tears. Ever after. Etc. (sigh)



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June.28.2007




2 comments:

C. said...

I don't know how I've found this page. I was looking for something new and next thing I know I was crying!

For the first time I saw my "almost" story being told.

Thank you for this emotion. Thank you for your beautiful words.

(Are you really from Afghanistan?)

:)*

Just me and all this: said...

C,

No, I'm not! hahahha!

I wrote this story in other language, during a terrible insomnia night. And I published it to other blog, in other language.

Seems like "tears" are the only reaction I caused, for every reader said the same: YOU MADE ME CRY!

There's a magic there: when I write laughing, people laugh out loud when they read. When my words make me cry while I'm typing, people cry when they read. I love it!

Anyway, this story was not supposed to make people cry... They lived happily ever after.

So don't cry: there's a hope!