Tuesday, July 31, 2012

When The Heart Begins to Hope


The clock ticked. 

One. Two. Three— Forty-seven—Fifty-nine— Tic-tac-tic-tac…

She remained where she stood, staring at nothing, not even at the girl facing her; whose eyes screamed nothingness at her.  Gone was the light that made her eyes even brighter, much more enticing.  Not today.  And not for a long, long time. 

She dropped her eyes, not focusing on anything really.  No.  Not even at the floor.  She knew that the girl before her had done just the same. 

The grief consumed her whole being.  Breathing had become a chore.  It hurt to take-in air and much more painful to breathe it out.  She shut her eyes tightly forcing herself not to feel.  He’s gone.  He’s gone.  He’s not yours anymore.  He’s never coming back.  You made him stop loving you. 

Slowly, she raised her eyes to stare at the girl’s eyes in front of her.  “Who is this girl?” she asked.  “Why are you here?” These questions she asked in silence; and yet it resonated in her mind, in her soul.  Deafening! “How did you get here?  What have you done?”

The girl stared back at her with the same lifeless expression in her eyes. She stared harder and realized that there was something there.  No.  They weren’t lifeless after all.  Her heart beat in rage as contempt stared back at her.  “No!!!”  She screamed over and over in her head; allowing the torture, the unending heartache, regret, and disappointment drown her… To drown the girl before her. 

Angry tears stung her eyes.  Stubborn droplets of warm liquid brimming in her eyes intensified the anger even more.  She wanted to scream.  At least the screaming will force her to feel something else.  No, she sighed painfully.  Not even that—

She held her hand up to touch the girl’s hand.  “You love him,” she asked, eyes pleadingly seeking solace.  “You hurt him.”  She wanted very much to ask her how they got at this place.  “Where do you go from here?  How do you live from here on?” 

Live.  Such a loaded word, she thought.  Live. Life. Nothing. 

She broke out crying… sobbing…

Somehow, a grain of something less depressing tugged her heart.  “Honey,” she whispered.  The sound of her voice sounded alien to her.  She tried again and this time she spoke his name… Over and over… And the more she did, the more her tears flowed from her beautiful, yet lifeless eyes. More sobbing rose from her chest, gripping her soul.

The girl before her cried with her; cried as hard as she did.  There was no comfort.  None. Nothing.

She breathed hard and deep and the effort it took to do just that broke her even more.  Disappointment washed over her.  Nothing was making it less hard, it seemed. 

The tears began to subside but not the pain.  Never the pain. 

She heard someone knock at her door. She didn’t care.  She had more pressing matters to do.  She had anger to entertain; she had hopes to drain; wishes to abandon; and the hardest--- she needed love to find her.

The familiar sound of her phone echoed in her chamber.  She stared at it.  Her heart beating wildly.  “Baby?”  Her heart hoped.  She looked at the small screen and once again… Nothing.  She glanced back at the girl wanting her to look better than her.  But alas, she was no better.

If only she could snatch her heart off of her body so that he’d see that every beat belonged to him... Will always belong to him. Yet, she knew— Even that wasn’t enough. No amount of “I’m sorrys” or begging would make it better; would make him better; would make her better; would make them better.  Only time would— Perhaps for him.  She hoped for him.

Her reflection, the girl— the girl she could barely recognize, stared back at her.  “Be okay for him,” she seemed to tell her.  “Forgive yourself.”

Reluctantly, she turned and sat on the bed; hoping the night would at least cloak her sorrow.  She snatched his shirt, the one he wore the night before he left.  Sniffed it, allowing his scent to lull her to rest.  Like last night, the other night, and the night before, with the little strength left in her, she pressed his number on her cellphone.  She knew it would ring and ring before it'd go to voice mail; but she just wanted to hear his voice.  One more time.  Maybe one last time.  But then, she heard the click.  She looked at her screen and realized that he answered and he didn’t hang up.  For the first time in so many days, she felt a small smile tug on her lips.   

She pressed the phone harder against her ears, wanting to hear… something. Anything.

A sob escaped her chest.  Bravely she spoke what’s in her heart.  “I love you.  I’m so sorry.”  Then, with the same amount of bravery but with reluctance, she pressed the end button. 

That night she slept with hope slowly growing in her heart.

A Love That Will Never Die

Once upon a time there was a beautiful fairy princess named Arwana.  Even as a child, Arwana loved the humans who till the land in the kingdom.  It was, of course, unbeknownst to the humans that they share the land with the magical fairies.

Arwana could not wait for the day when she could earn her wings so that she could follow the humans, be with them, protect them, even if they wouldn’t be aware of her existence.

At last, she was seventeen, the year when fairies become fully developed; when fairies were granted their wings, allowing them to perform their duties as nature’s guardians.  Arwana grew to be a beautiful and kind-hearted Fairy Princess loved by everyone.  The Fairy King, the Fairy Queen, and every fairy in the kingdom celebrated Arwana’s seventeenth year.  The festivities warmed Arwana’s heart but nothing could compare her joy the moment the King presented her with her wings.  All the fairies in the kingdom shared Arwana’s joy and excitement. 

With her wings, Arwana left and entered her kingdom.  She devoted her time caring the land and every creature in it.  As days passed, Arwana had learned to love the humans even more.  Their life was never easy, she thought, but their determination was incomparable.  

One day, Arwana followed a human girl to the river as she went to fetch water.  The human girl decided to swim and Arwana saw the pure joy in the girl’s face as she floated in the water.  This fascinated Arwana. When the girl left, Arwana took off her fairy wings, imitating the girl when she took her clothes off to swim. As she dipped her feet in the water, a sensation over took her.  She could feel the coldness of the water.  A fairy, this she knew, could never feel cold or heat because their duties as guardians of nature include working under the cruel heat of the sun or piercing cold of winter.  She stared at the water and realized she was staring at a beautiful human being.  She looked up, afraid that someone had caught her.  But there was no one there. She immediately wore her wings again, ready to bolt.  When she looked at the reflection on the water, she realized that the beautiful young woman had vanished.  Arwana thought that was odd.  She wondered where the woman went.  Convinced that she was alone again, she took off her wings one more time, in a hurry to dip her feet and feel the wonderful, tingling sensation of the cold water.  As she did so, she saw the beautiful human girl again and this was when it hit her that she was the human girl.  The realization excited her.  She could be a human when she removed her wings! 

In her excitement, she didn’t notice the young man who had caught her in her human form; the man who, at first sight, had fallen in love with her.  She captivated him with her beauty, her kind eyes, and the smile that made her impossibly beautiful.  He hid behind a tree as she watched Arwana in her human form swim.  When Arwana realized her duties, she immediately got out of the water, wore her wings, and left.

The young man witnessed what happened and knew right there and then the beautiful woman was a magical creature.  He had heard folklore about the magical beings.  He never imagined that he would witness one and fall in love with it—with her!

Every day, Arwana returned to the river and enjoyed her human time, swimming in the river; delighted that she had discovered a way to live like her beloved humans even just for a while. 

And not far away, the young man watched, mesmerized by her beauty. 

One day, as soon as Arwana took off her wings, the young man appeared before her, offering her his hand.  “My name is Agatin,” staring straight into Arwana eyes.

Arwana, looked into the young man’s eyes and her heart started to beat wildly.  She couldn’t explain what the feeling was.  Slowly, she extended her hand to him.  “Arwana,” she simply responded.

As their hands touched, Arwana felt an unfamiliar feeling. She got scared, grabbed her wings, wore it, and flew as fast as she possibly could.

Agatin, meanwhile, couldn’t take the smile off of his face.  He held her hand.  She looked into his eyes.  Love was bursting within him.

Agatin waited and waited for Arwana to return.  Every day, he would sit by the river, waiting for his beloved to return.  He never lost hope.  “I am here my beloved Arwana.  I will be waiting for you, every day until the day I die.  I love you, my Arwana,” he would mutter, his heart beating for only her.  Little did he know that Arwana was always beside him; sitting with him by the rock, holding his hand in her fairy form.  Arwana, too, had fallen in love with Agatin.  “I love you, my dear Agatin,” she would whisper back even when she knew Agatin could never hear her voice.

One day, a storm struck Agatin’s land.  The rain poured heavily, filling up the river fast.  Arwana just knew that Agatin’s life was in danger.  She just knew that he was by the rocks waiting for her.  In her longing to save her beloved, she immediately took her wings off and called out Agatin’s name.  “Come to me, Agatin.  Run to me, my love!”

Agatin realized the danger he and his beloved were in and so he grabbed Arwana’s hand and they ran up the hills to safety.  Once they were safe, they held each other as if to make sure that they have not lost each other. 

“I love you,” Agatin whispered longingly, fervently caressing Arwana’s face. 

“As I love you,” Arwana responded with such passion.

“There is nothing I wouldn’t do for you, Arwana.  I would love you regardless of who you are.”  This, Agatin knew, was true.  “Tell me to love you from afar and that I will do.  Tell me to stay away from you and that I would willingly do for you— Anything you’d ask of me, I’d give it to you, just to prove how much I love you.”

Arwana, in tears, held Agatin.  Their love for each other was so great they’re willing to let each other go.  “I will love you for eternity; for eternity is what I have,” Arwana sadly confessed.  “You go, Agatin, and live your life to the fullest.”  As soon as Arwana uttered these words, the anguish overcome her and cried for the first time in her existence.  She squeezed Agatin’s  hand before she turned to leave when she realized she didn’t have her wings.  Her wings!  She needed them to go back to being a fairy; to being a guardian.

Agatin, even in agony refused to close his eyes.  He needed to see Arwana until she vanished.

“Agatin?” Arwana spoke.  “I have lost my wings!”

Agatin didn’t know what to say.  What did it mean?

“Don’t you see, Agatin?  It’s gone.  I am a human now and I can be with you!  I don’t need my wings now.  You see, if I don’t wear my wings I’ll remain human.”

Agatin couldn’t contain the joy in his heart.  Arwana was choosing him.  He took her in his arms and promised to love her, protect her, and never leave her no matter what.

“Could you be a magical creature again, my love?” Agatin asked, fearful that he could only have her for a short period of time.  He loved her, wanted her, and needed to be with her for the rest of his life.

“Only when my wings and I reunite; but when I do, I’ll never be able to take it out again.”  Arwana shared with the sweetest smile on her face.  She was beaming with love and happiness.

When the storm subsided, Agatin brought Arwana home and made her his wife.

For years, the young couple lived in harmony.  Arwana wondered about her kingdom. She thought of the King and the Queen.  She knew that as a human, she will die one day; and this didn’t bother her a bit. Agatin was more than enough reason to be happy and content.  

It was on their fourth year of marriage, one gloomy day, when Agatin woke up to find his wife sweating and shivering uncontrollably.  Agatin, in fear, ran to fetch the village doctor to heal his beloved wife.  For days, Agatin prayed, sat beside Arwana whose fever wouldn't subside.  "Open your eyes for me, my love," he begged and every time he did, Arwana would struggle to open her eyes and gave her a smile.

The fifth night Arwana lay in bed, looking frail, and thin, Agatin cried in anguish.  He would have to say goodbye to Arwana.  He just knew Arwana would be leaving him.  And so with a heavy heart, Agatin left her Arwana's side for a moment and when he returned he held her in his arms and told her he loved her over and over.  And when the morning sun came, Agatin reluctantly stood up to check on the animals in the backyard.

Agatin, after feeding the animals, rushed back to Arwana's side.  His heart almost couldn't contain the gladness in his heart when before him was the woman he had loved with everything that he has looking like the day he first laid eyes on her.

"Arwana," he whispered.  Tears brimming in his eyes. 

His voice awoken the sleeping Arwana.  At first she was confused, not quite sure what was going on.  She felt perfectly fine.  She looked at Agatin's face and when she saw the anguish in his eyes, and when she felt as though she was born again, she knew... She just knew...

"What have you done, Agatin?" Arwana threw herself into Agatin's arms.  "I would have rather died in your arms, my love."

"I love you, Arwana.  So much that I'd rather live in heartache that see you die!  Please understand, my love."

They held each other for what seemed like forever until the inevitable could no longer be ignored.  On the table was a bamboo, covered in cloth.  "You are slowly killing me now, Agatin," Arwana whispered as she touched her husband's face so lovingly.

"No, my love.  Don't ever feel that way.  If the situation was reversed, I knew you would do the same." 

Arwana nodded.  She understood.  "I love you.  I'll always love you." Arwana whispered.

"And I, you.  Until my last breath... And even then."  Agatin held out his hand to his wife to help her up.  "You go, my love.  It is time."  

Arwana was in tears as she removed the cloth before shaking the bamboo and as she did out came the wings-- her own wings.  "I've always known, Agatin," she whispered sadly.  "But I love you enough to give up my world.  I loved you enough."

Agatin closed his eyes as pain broke his heart into pieces.  

"Be well, my love," Arwana whispered as she kissed her husband.  "I'll always be with you."

And with that, Arwana wore her wings and disappeared. 

Agatin felt a cold wind on his cheek and when it was gone, he broke down in tears.  His Arwana was gone.  His reason for living was gone.  His wife, his beloved was gone.  Yet the love in his heart remained.

Everyday, from the day Arwana returned to her fairy form, Agatin would sit by the rocks on the river bank, reminiscing his moments with his Arwana.  He would talk to her and in his heart he knew that his Arwana was listening and somehow telling him of her love for him.

Meanwhile, Arwana had watched over her husband through the years.  Sitting with him in the spot in the river; proclaiming her undying love.

The day Agatin didn’t show up after so many years of visiting  the river every day, Arwana just knew her beloved was never coming back.

“You rest, my love,” Arwana whispered.  “Thank you for loving me.”