I was fifteen when I met her at a party, and it was love at first sight, or at least what passes for such a thing at fifteen years old. She had red hair, which she always insisted was strawberry blond and aquamarine colored eyes that shown like brilliant stars on a new moon night. Her complexion was that of cream with a light dusting of tasteful freckles. There was something within her, which just seemed to radiate. How could I have not been entranced?
The shyness I've had when it comes to girls was much worse then. After all, I am an aberration, being too tall, too skinny, with eyes too big for the rest of my face. Be that as it may, I had to say hello.
Now, even in a small southern town in rural North Carolina, with fuck all to do, drinking under twenty-one was illegal, and I have never ever broken that law-honest, no really, stop laughing. However, there was remarkable sweet drink called liquid courage. I may or may not have had quite a bit of this when I finally sucked up the courage to speak with her.
So, I introduced myself with, my full name, and asked her to marry me. She giggled and told me I was cute. We got to talking anyway. She was a year and a grade older than me, and wrote poems, short stories, and song lyrics for the local bands. It was a nice conversation, and I realized, despite being in love, or what passed for such during adolescence, at first sight, nothing was going to happen that night. Maybe not ever. Everything was going gay and fine until her possessive redneck boyfriend came up.
"That's my girlfriend," he said. I was fifteen, full beans and maybe or maybe not a lovely drink called liquid courage. My mouth got the better of me.
"I saw her first. Why don't you go and get your own?"
Then the switchblade came out. Whilst it's mostly faded away, I still have a small nick reminder mark of that on the left side of my chest. My friends jumped and handled the possessive redneck boyfriend, and she drug me into a water closet to make sure I wasn't severely damaged for talking to her. She broke up with that cat two days later.
It played out she was dyslexic too, and ended up in some of the same special-ed classes as the fucking indian and I. We all got to be friends, although there was always something a little deeper between us. She would help the fucking indian write ballads for his band whilst I was known to throw him a couple lines here and there on the more aggressive and darker tunes. My friend from China and her would talk about philosophy and psychology.
Although I was very much in love with this girl, and she did love me back, it was as if never really got our chance. Circumstances were never right, it seemed. Boyfriends and girlfriends. Wacky shit in between. It was intense, but I confess, it also sucked. Always just a kiss and grasp away, but right fucking in front of me.
Well, I should take that back, we did get a few days. In a sense, just once, we got a shot. How it all came together I no longer exactly recall. I do know I had my parents' house all to myself and took full advantage of it. Although, to this day, I maintain my heart is unbreakable, when she left, I did sustain a hairline fracture.
When I did run into her again, she was with a boy. I was with the fucking indian and my friend from China. She tried to whisper something sweet to me, to make me feel better about her being with someone else.
"Honeychild, we've always been together. We'll always be together."
I was seventeen at the time. My feelings were hurt. I Stiffened and growled and rose to my full height.
"Forgive the fuck out of me for wanting more."
And I walked away. In high school, a month can be a lifetime or more. That's how long I avoided her. The fucking indian used to joke we'd all find our special ones, soulmate is often the term used in modern parlance, in some greasy spoon diner in Topeka, Kansas. I'd never had the means or occasion to go there back then, having never lost anything in Kansas, but during that period, I was hoping someone would drop a nuclear weapon on it. If I'm miserable, so's everyone else.
When I did finally suck up the courage to speak with her again, I had every intention of apologizing. I had lost my temper and behaved badly. She once told me I was a southern gentleman, despite having been born in Colorado, and, in a single moment, I'd been a yang kuie tsu-a barbarian, as my friend from China would say. When I started speaking, working toward the apology, she placed her fingers on my lips.
"It's okay, don't worry about a thing."
I moved back to Colorado. We kept in contact, lost touch, renewed bonds, and so on over the years. We would sometimes joke we were lovers, in a weird dysfunctional way, which baffled most, but we were also very dear friends. There was a promise of staying in touch.
Sometime around when I got married, I found she was dating my friend from China and was nothing short of ecstatic for the both of them. How could I not be? A year later, when my marriage had decomposed to ash, I was told they were betrothed.
My friend from China died. The details behind that are another story. It crushed her. Someone told me that her finance and I were the only two men she truly loved. One, time and place and circumstance always prevented it. The other was now gone. One of the last things I ever heard from down south before my father's mother died, was on a bitter cold winter's night getting on sixteen years ago. She had been killed in an accident, although it was speculated it might have been on purpose.
Topeka, Kansas, never seemed so fucking distant...
She was my first love, although we never really got a proper chance beyond those few days at my parents' house. To this day, I am a sucker for a southern accent. Not the hill billy hump-your-cousin-drawl, but that southern belle voice. When I hear honeychild or dearheart, my knees still can get a little wobbly.
Now and again, I get nostalgic. I think of my first love and smile. Just like I think of the good times of past relationships, no matter how they ended, and do the same thing. Supposedly, it's natural. Even if it wasn't, I have a hard time thinking it's wrong.
Sometimes, I think of that joke of a greasy spoon diner in Topeka, Kansas, and how many times I've used that jokes on cats I've known in the years since I first heard it. I muse dream girls and the fact that whilst I've met girls in greasy spoon diners, it was never in Topeka, Kansas. After all, I didn't lose anything in Kansas, so why would I need to go there to find something?
Sabina and I met in a vampire den within the borders of the greater metroplex. It took us a few years before we even noticed one another like that. We went out to coffee on more than one occasion, but it was more often than not coffeehouses like Paris on the Platte and Michelangelo's instead of greasy spoons. And yet, when I mentioned jumping off the end of the world and going into the mountains, she was right there with me. Sometimes being more fanatical and aggressive than I.
When my father and I drove back to North Carolina to collect the last of his mother's effects before the southern relatives vulture-carved up the estate he'd been denied we passed through Kansas. Neither of us were overly pleased with this circumstance. Be that as it may, remembering an ancient joke from my adolescence, I could not help but chuckle as we drove through Topeka. My mind skipped the light fantastic, remembering a girl with aquamarine colored eyes that shown like brilliant stars on a new moon night who had, by then, been years gone, and the girl with doe eyes that glittered like prisms and abalone shells waiting for me back in Colorado when I finally got back home.