Loved and Lost

#1 The One That Never Was

When I was much younger, my family moved very far from our home. I knew no one in this new place, I had no friends and I could barely speak the new language. It was hard to get through the days barely speaking to anyone and not understanding a word of what my teachers said.

On my first day, we were told to go outside and run a couple of laps. Girls and boys were separated into groups. As my identity remained hidden for so long, I was grouped with the girls. A pretty girl approached me and asked my name, she introduced herself as Light. I took a liking of her for being kind enough to talk to me thus I asked her about a kid with long black hair and a delicate constitution that was seated with the boys. She laughed "Oh, I see why you'd be puzzled. He's a boy, though." We'll call him Gabriel.

I thought both him and I were odd in the gender department so I instantly felt close to him. He was seated near me in many classes and we talked often. He was kind and funny. He never said this to me but I knew he felt uncomfortable with how often others would mistake him for a girl. A year passed and he decided to cut his hair short so that wouldn't happen as often. He had a round, sort of delicate face with a button nose and round pink lips.

That second year I started to slip into illness. My body started slowly disappearing and with it many of the friendships I had gathered with my time in this new place. People were scared of me, as if my illness of the soul could infect them. I felt lonely, but Gabriel never stopped talking to me. He was always so kind, even when I was weak and could barely walk around the hallways. One day, he asked me to model with him for a photograph. He grabbed my waist. I remember that.

Thanks to him I was able to get some strength and make new friends. I got close to a girl named Maddie. She was tall and slender with freckles all over her face and eyes so wide they gave you the impression she was in a constant state of awe. The night she left she confessed to me she liked Gabriel and I encouraged her to tell him. She never did. Part of me knew she'd have better chances at love than I ever would.

Another year passed; my illness started to fade away. I thought I was finally strong enough to travel so I did. My colleagues and I went on a trip across the continent. Because of our last names, Gabriel and I were seated together on the plane. He fell asleep almost instantly and rested his head on my shoulder. I couldn't sleep during the flight because my heart was beating so fast I thought I would die. Every night on that trip we all sneaked out of our rooms to stargaze and Gabriel would point out constellations and tell us ghost stories. So many years have passed since then but my heart starts beating out of control when I think of this.

On the last day of that trip, I made up my mind to tell him how I felt. It was a 14th of February and our farewell party was full of paper hearts and sweet confectioneries. I thought about it all night, about what I'd say and how he'd react. We had been friends for so long but I never dared... This time was different. I thought that if he rejected my affection I'd just go on with a broken heart, it couldn't be worse than staying silent. We took a photo by the gate, he thought it'd be funny to carry me in his arms since I was so small back then.

When the sun went down I gathered my courage and searched for him but he was nowhere to be seen. I asked one of our friends where he went and she said he was on the phone. I looked over her shoulder and saw a commotion, all our other friends were circling Gabriel and cheering. I approached them and asked someone what had happened and a smiling boy said "Oh, he just told Light he likes her. He had been waiting for today to tell her and she feels the same." I felt my heart stop beating.

I shoveled a thousand pastries down my throat and watched two of my teachers dance the night away. Those two met when they were 16 and had been married for 40 years. I imagined what it would be like to feel loved like that.

We went back, months passed, Light broke his heart, he cried on my shoulder, he forgave her, she broke his heart again, he did not cry this time, a year flew by.

My family decided to move again due to my illness getting worse. They feared that if my melancholy got any worse I would die. On my last day in that place I approached Gabriel to say good-bye. "See you next year, right?" he asked. I said no and explained I would be leaving. He hugged me tightly and I heard him sobbing. I never saw him again.

#2 The Lost Ones

I am not a shallow person, but I'm easily smitten by aesthetics. A friend once said that's the folly of growing up as an artist. Not that I consider myself much of one.

Back when I lived near the desert dunes, my affections seemed to be taken by a beautiful young man. I saw him from the corner of my eye one day and I swore I felt something. I couldn't see his face very well but something about him called to me like moths to the fire. I thought, back then, that perhaps our auras matched… or something of the sort.

I later learned his name and was able to take a good look at his face. He was tall and slim, with fair skin and eyes big and round. He had brown hair that almost always covered his sky blue eyes that rested melancholically below a pair of strong black eyebrows. I thought it must have been love at first sight. He had a soft, quiet voice despite having an energetic sort of presence. He was almost always hidden behind a taller friend with a similar frame to his.

I spent that whole year daydreaming of this boy as if I was destined to be with him. Wherever he walked he left a faint scent of vanilla.

Shortly after my arrival, I met a girl who I will call Hermia. She was from the same town as I was but we came from completely different worlds. I was shy and insecure with strange interests and passions while she was outgoing and lovely with stories that made the world stop. I envied her terribly. I thought she was a pretty young thing, with slender limbs and long blonde her whereas I considered myself to be horrendously deformed. Hermia once asked me, "Is there anyone you like?" I couldn’t think of anyone at the time whom I truly fancied, so I told her about the vanilla-scented boy. She smiled.

Next morning she went up to him and stretched her hand outwards. "Hi, my name is Hermia, what’s yours?" she said while I was right behind her. Was that allowed? To simply introduce yourself to someone? She flashed me a smile as he shook her hand. His name, to me, was Demetrius because our story resembled that of a faint mid-June dream.

Hermia and Demetrius talked often. Hermia confided in me that she was much more interested in Demetrius' taller friend, Lysander. She seemed to enjoy the attention from both boys, and how couldn't she? Isn't it every child's dream to be seen and loved? One day, Hermia and I were talking and sipping on flat soda and she received a call. She smiled widely and showed me the name on her cellular phone. Demetrius had called only to ask how she was doing. I felt an unbearable weight on my chest but said nothing. Hermia bragged: "He calls everyday, you know? It's almost annoying. He writes too, want to see?" I shook my head but she showed me anyways. What I saw on the screen were hours worth of conversation, of this poor boy telling her his most valued secrets and her responding by telling them to me.

It still feels wrong to talk about the things I read that day. It truly felt so intimate and tragic and I shouldn't have been shown those things without his permission. I felt empathetic towards him and angry and disgusted at Hermia for betraying his trust. But I remained quiet and decided simply to keep those secrets to myself. Hermia rejoiced in the fact that he said he liked her even when she had no plans to give him an answer.

I became friends with Lysander. He was an amazing musician and I wanted to learn so that I could play a song for Demetrius. It seems silly now, that I learned a skill only to play a song for a boy I barely knew. Guess you can call me a hopeless romantic. Lysander was a kind man, he was like an older brother to me. We spent hours upon hours every day in a small room strumming away on our guitars. Hermia took notice of this and she made sure to let me know she disapproved of the whole thing.

One afternoon I decided to ask Demetrius what he thought of me. We truly barely knew each other but that hopeless romantic part of me hoped that somehow he thought of me as a distant beautiful thing or something of the sort. He responded with the opposite of what I wished for. I understood. Though I had never been rejected (since before this I had never confessed my feelings to anyone), I felt like rejection would always be a part of my life. "Love wasn’t made for people like me." I thought.

Demetrius left at the end of the year, part of me is glad he never saw me at my worst when I was struggling to stay alive. He came back a year later, to my surprise, and all these complicated feelings about love and rejection came back all at once. He was the leading man of many a daydream and the reason for many a tear. Strangely, now I can see that it wasn't about him but about what he represented to young Uriel. What child that thinks of themselves as a hideous beast doesn't dream of being acknowledged by a beautiful person?

He didn't remember me. Or so he said. I pretended I didn't remember him either. First day of school he, in a Hermiaesque fashion, approached me and stretched his hand towards me. "I'm Demetrius, what's your name?" He smiled. We spent the year together, racing each other and doing push-up competitions as boys do. Sometimes he'd carry me on his back across the hallway and I'd pretend I was an eagle. He taught me to hit home runs and we sneaked into the backstage of the auditorium during theater classes to hug. That's all we really did, hold each other tightly and press our foreheads together. We never kissed. We weren't ready, I guess. He never told me the things he told Hermia. I pretended to not see the scars on his shoulders and he pretended not to hurt when my protruding ribs pressed against him when we hugged.

Remember how I told you about stargazing with Gabriel? On one of those fated nights, a girl mentioned the scars on Demetrius' shoulders. She mocked him. "He does that to himself, you know? How pathetic." I exploded. How dare you reveal that? How dare you mock him for his pain? How could you tell us the secrets he trusted you to keep? I wasn't going to let another person betray his trust, not again, not ever. "Why are you defending him?" Gabriel asked. "He's such an asshole. I don't understand why you like him so much." I said I knew that and that I didn't care, he didn't deserve to be mocked regardless. It surprised me how Gabriel would laugh at him while comforting me for my personal tragedies.

Demetrius and I stopped talking when summer came. He said he found someone he liked better. I cried for an entire night. He tried to recover our friendship in spring but I was done chasing after beautiful boys. I regret telling him to go away. We had a brief, childish love but he was my friend. We understood each other's pain without uttering a single word. There, in the dark behind the lively stage with our foreheads pressed against one another. I wonder if perhaps he missed me. Did he perhaps need me? Was I selfish to expect love instead of friendship? Was I shallow? Did I reduce him to a pretty face for me to gaze at?

I wish I could talk to him again and tell him all these things.