The One

By Emmanuelle

SHE grew up worshipping the ground he walked on.

Um, but she did not actually worship the ground he walked on. She did not light candles, burn incense, chant hymns then dance whirls around his footprints. The ground was for walks and wheels and for ungainly bodies to fall flat on. She did not deliberately drop down on her knees and deliciously adore the ground The One happened to walk on every morning, every afternoon and every weekend of his getting-to-be-a-young-adult years. She did not do that at all. Na-ah.

She worshipped The One, not the ground. She did not even waste time searching longingly at the ground for tell-tale signs of his passing after The One just walked, jogged, drove by. Her eyes would close to memorize the vision of his face, the face that peopled her dreams. It was a face not even wake-up time forgot.

At six on weekday mornings, she would be quietly tiptoeing down the stairs in her flannel pajamas and bare feet. She would hop on cold stone hedges and even colder dewy grass.

She would be wheezing her breath before she reached her favorite spot, for then it was a forest of a garden, her Mom’s wilder version of Eden. But, once she reached her spot, she would feel safe, from within, from without its arms of leaves and thorns and buds.

It was not exactly everyone’s version of the kindest favorite hiding place. The bushes were most thick here, and the thorns poked and pricked her fiercely so. There were flying, crawling bugs, too. But here, she can watch him hopefully unobserved for the longest time. She got the clearest view of him across the curtains of leaves, and nearer the fence, of vines and branches and trunks of fruit trees. It truly was such a forest of a garden.

During those mornings, when he left his house early and walked by hers on his way to the mountains, her heart would echo the leap in his heart, brave and spry, a thin jacket and an engineer’s helmet to shield him from his mock battles with the blackest of mines. At end of day, she too would wear his long, tired, shadowed face. His booted steps would clonk heavily down the road, his eyelids would flutter down as heavy, the whole of him smudged from the walls and halls of the blackest of mines.

It would be such a struggle to hold back her wild, wild heart. It would squirm so. It would wrestle with her will. It would thrash restlessly about. Let me go! Let me fly! Let me zoom over to him, to hum him calm; to sooth, to smooth the furrows on his brows.

Each time her heart outrageously did each or all of these things, she would punch hard with her clenched fist the left region of her chest. Warned, her heart would slump and throb wearily against its ribbed bars.

Until one day, her father’s workers cleared the area near the fences.

The One comes home clonking his boots down the road. He raises tired eyes. Suddenly, his face lights up in a smile, a small one at first but a smile nevertheless. For the longest, clearest moment, where he felt there was before just a shadow of a presence watching him unseen, he sees.

Where there had always been a wild thicket covered with swirls of vines, there is but a neat trim of trees and hedges and bushes after bushes of pink and red roses!

And a very pale girl in a very pale pink dress swirling just below the knees, bare feet delicately balancing on a stone hedge, calmly hosing a shower of water the colorful blooms and their budding sons and daughters.

His smile broadens to a grin of surprise and delight. The girl, not as surprised but as delighted, dimples a shy smile back.

He stops. He opens his mouth for a greet. Then he takes her in and the rest of her home and what it means. He thinks. He clamps shut his lips. He walks slowly on. He turns around to look at the vision of pink and red and the pale girl standing amidst. He does this twice, thrice, a number of times. It is the longest, deepest think of all.

His stop stopped time for her for one most beautiful saddest moment. And it will always be a moment that would be hers alone to hug to herself till her last breath.

It is good enough. The One never did get to be hers.

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