It is one of those cold nights. You know, the ones where not even a blanket could keep you warm. The rain fell, caressing the roof as if they were planning a life together, like the life I’d planned with him. I still remember his words, “We are going to get married Ann, you and me.” How stupid I was to believe. Wait why wouldn’t I believe? He was perfect, saying everything I wanted to hear. For the first time, I’d fallen in love. The kind of love I had read about in the old books handed to me by my cousin- the ones my father forbid me to read. The ones whose pages took me to a land of wonderment. I had fallen in love, but laying in my bed at that moment, I felt more broken than shattered glass, I could see the jagged pieces of my heart strewn across the floor. With tears rolling down the cheeks he’d once called rosy, the ones he’d kissed every time he had the chance to, I remember the words of my dad all so well now and I knew he was right, “Love was for adults, not silly teens.”
I still remember the first day we met; I wore a blue dress and he, oh my God, he was breathtaking. Standing at the entrance of my back porch in a gray t-shirt and jeans with the sun and clear blue sky existing only to serve as a backdrop for his brilliance. But it wasn’t the clothes that took my breath away; it was his dizzying smile, his dark skin and his brown eyes piercing through my soul. At that moment, I thought it was love at first sight.
“Ann meet Henry; Henry meet Ann, my best friend”, said his cousin, Alex. I’m sure he saw me drool over him, but as I shook his hand, I swear that for a second, our hands melted together.
“Hi Ann, Alex has told me a lot about you but I guess he forgot to mention how beautiful you are,” he said softly, his eyes drinking in my lips as he let go of my hand. Me? Beautiful? Well that was never an attribute used to describe me; smart, yes, kind, too kind as a matter of fact, and definitely. But he told me I was beautiful, looking pastp my hideous glasses, the ones I hated with passion.
“Guys enough chattering, we are going to be late for the concert,” Alex said, breaking the silence that accompanied the compliment. “We’ve got to wait for Rose and Lisa, you know that right?,” I reminded him. “Well they better hurry up, I want to be there when it all starts.”
Sitting in the back seat of the car with my sisters, I caught Henry’s gaze through the view mirror yet again. I melted inside, yet on the outside I maintained a friendly smile. At the concert we barely paid attention to the performances, more wrapped up in each other and our conversation. It was almost like we had known each other for a long time. We exchanged numbers after the concert and kept in touch. Two days later, he brought me a book. I loved that book. The events that followed were quite wonderful; every evening, when the sun set, we would take long walks or simply sit near the road and look at the cars. This continued for two weeks, enough to make me fall more and more in love with him.
“Let’s go to the beach together tomorrow evening,” he said one day as we sat by the road. “My dad won’t agree, you know how he is,” I mumbled. “Well you don’t have to tell him, matter of fact let’s go now; we will be back before night falls.”
For the first time in my life I left home without permission, I felt like Issa from the book Daring in the Dark, only it wasn’t dark but I was definitely daring at that moment. It was on the beach we had our first kiss, the one I still feel on my lips till date. I still remember the urgency with which he said “kiss me!,” as if he had gone too long without our lips meeting and this lack now had him perched on the precipice of death, or worse. I remember how his lips parted to meet me, the hunger in his touch that I was learning to get used to, and most of all, the butterflies. No wait, they were horses racing down my spine making their way to my stomach; every second we spent together that day is still engraved in my mind. It was on that very day he asked me to be his girlfriend, and without hesitation, I said yes. Why wouldn’t I? I loved him, and he said he loved me too.
I had a boyfriend now, like my sisters did, but to me, our love was quite different. We were perfect and did basically everything together. Everyday brought its own adventure; I couldn’t last a day without seeing him and oh he, he never let that happen. He made me feel so beautiful on the outside and inside. He’d call me Belle, his Belle. It was too perfect, so perfect that I almost forgot he had to return to his country. The thought of him returning pierced a whole in my heart, he had filled my summer with more light than even the sun could.
Lying in my bed at that now, I still remember the last time we kissed and the promise he had made, “I’ll be back next summer, I swear it.” I guess they were lies, for the text message on my phone, just a month after our tearfilled goodbye, said another thing. “My Ann, I don’t know where life will take us but I know that this long distance is not working. I’m sorry but we have to end it.”
He lied, but there was truth in his touch, and his kisses I will never forget. I lived my summer kind of love, and even though it ended with me broken, I don’t regret anything. Henry will forever be in my heart.
Authored by Beulah Nimene
Featured Picture by Black Love Exists