Pocket full of secrets
Belly full of stars
Buried deep in time and memory
Buried deep in my backyard
Neither of them knew what it meant.
It was just a silly game. Two best friends dusted in bougainvillaea purple as they made their way down a makeshift aisle. Both heads of hair turned honey gold under the late evening sun. Two friends, feet pressed against the ground, pine needles and grass tickled their ankles as they stood hand in hand below a rusty old lamppost.
“You can be the husband, I can be the wife!”
They thought all marriages were sealed with a kiss. It was what was shown in the cartoons after all. Princesses and Princes reunited after an epic battle would celebrate in weddings of pearl and silver, and it would all end with their kiss of true love. Sharing a kiss meant that you loved that person. In their game of imagination, it all made perfect sense.
She couldn’t understand why she was yelled at for kissing a girl.
As her friend eventually moved across the globe, the friendship gradually frayed as time ticked on. With her, she took that memory which faded with time — it was never brought up again.
Days passed through the fingers of time with a syrupy sweetness. She grew, laughed, cried and watched the faces of friends and family blur past as months flew by. Finally, it was at that age where relationships were secrets murmured between whispered giggles, it was the gossip at the table, who was the one that everyone liked — the pinpointing of who was the cutest guy, the prettiest girl. Strings of words that were spun from cotton candy innocence accompanied by candy apple blushes.
It was not that she did not agree with them — she recalled a time when she found a video game character H-A-N-D-S-O-M-E flustering as she spelt it out loud in an empty parking lot to her cousin.
She talked about the kiss sometimes, as a deflection.
Jokes of similar circumstance. To her, it seemed that the more that she played a part, the less likely her audience would assume. Dramatic exclamations, costuming, and words crafted carefully in the script of her mind; it became essential to who she was. What she wanted to be. It was a performance without a final act, it felt like she was watching a delusion.
Why hasn’t she talked about people the same way? Eventually, she came concluded that her “denial” came from deep fear within. It came from not wanting to feel the embarrassment of having to deal with those feelings. Worse still, her mind was unable to comprehend that concept — to leave her friends for someone more. It became all-consuming, and an obsession took root within her mind. People normally did not feel deep dread trying to find attraction, she thought. It was terrifying.
Soon, things only became worse. She wanted so badly to understand. After all, wasn’t that what she was told? But try as she might, it never appealed. Visions of figures laughing and fingers intertwined. Quiet moments dappled in the morning light. There were hugs that filled her soul with a warmth and a joy she could never put into words. She felt a gentle kiss of endearment, kind hands cradling her head, safety and comfort. The time spent with friends felt like all she needed in the world.
She knew of people who felt the way she did, but a glass wall stood towering, mocking, as she watched them from afar. There was always that burning Eye above, watching her every move. Its ever-present gaze seared the back of her head as invisible hands squeezed upon her chest, pushing air out of her lungs. If she crossed that barrier, backs would turn, bonds severed, ripped apart by hate, disgust and disappointment. Stares of the ones she loved most, would become foreign and unsure.
Worry turned to fear. A voice screaming to take a side — how else could she ever manage to find solace? The murmurs convinced her that future change would mean betrayal. Once you scaled that wall, there was no coming back. If she did, the concrete proof of who she thought she was — painstakingly collected over the years — would crumble to dust. She would be a fraud.
She felt lost, confused and scared.
The ebony hands of paranoia soon crept up behind her, as the Eye looked on.
Yet. Despite it all, in a fist clenched knuckle that she held tightly upon a scattering of fragmented light, their soft glow never failed to light up empty eyes grey from fatigue. It twinkled with her best friends’ gentle words and gleamed in the form of her siblings’ and their quiet support. They were plucked from the sky in the form of movies of people like her living happily, stories that sparkled and made her feel less alone. Their voices glistened like communities all across the world, and in their own homes telling tales like hers as pixels flashed across a blue-lit screen.
Gold pricked through the veil over her eyes, and although they may take a lifetime to disappear, slowly the shadows began to dissolve like the aftermath of a bad dream.
It was all going to be okay.
On a small rise in the ground is a rusted lamp post, below it a girl stands patiently as she looks into the eyes of her older self. She stares back. “Have you figured it out yet?” A small hand reaches for a trembling larger one. “No.” the older self replies, she looks out into the horizon as it stretches far overhead, neverending and infinite. She then smiles softly, “Let’s just take our time with it, yeah?”
The child smiles before squeezing their hands with her own. Together, they watch as the sky in her multicoloured hue descends into a star-speckled night.
I love you
I love you
I love you