She was five and a family had just moved in next door in the big blue house that had been empty since the last family moved out.
Her father, like the hospitable person he was, decided to take a basket of goodies next door the next day and pulled her along with him. They walked across the lawn, she holding her dad’s hand like the good girl she was. They climbed up the steps of the wide porch in the front of the house and she got on her tippy toes and knocked on the door. A girl of around the same age as her opened the door, grinning, her green eyes lit up with excitement. Her dad introduced himself and her. The girl introduced herself, sticking out a paint- covered hand. She took it, smiling and she called out for her dad. Walking back home, she was jumping with the joy of having made a new friend.
She was six and she was starting school.
She’d heard about school from the big kids on the playground. About the big evil teachers with brown devil horns curled up the sides of their heads. About the bald principal, who called students to his office and fried them before eating them. She hadn’t wanted to go to school, she’d been scared. Her father was the one to coax her out of bed, reassuring her fears.
She had a purple Disney backpack, and new pencils of Finding Nemo. With her brown hair tied into two pigtails and her small hand slipped into her dad’s, she excitedly set out for school. When she reached Stony Brooke Primary School, she waved goodbye to her father and followed her new teacher to her new classroom. The door opened and she around 20 kids running around the class, some sitting down and painting, some playing with clay and more. She saw her sitting on the ground next to a group of boys, her red hair open and flowing down her back and drawing on a piece of paper. She walked over to her, happy as can be and sat down next to her. She looked up at her, smiled and handed her a pencil. They grinned at each other.
She was eight and she was getting bullied.
She was sitting in the sandbox in the playground during recess and playing with the sand. A group of boys, older than her and in a grade above her came over to her. They pulled her hair and called her names until a tear rolled down her face. They jeered at her, laughing about how her mom had left her and her father a few years ago. She strolled up to them and shouted at them, threatening them that if they laid another finger on her, she‘d make sure they’d get it. They ran away almost in tears, and she sat down next to her, comforting her and hugging her. She smiled at her and hugged her one last time, tightly, trying to show her how grateful she was of finding a best friend like her.
She was twelve and her mom had come back.
Her mother had gone shopping one day for bread. She’d never come back.
Her father had never hid the truth from her, telling her when she asked at the wee age of six, her big brown eyes shining, why she didn’t have a mommy like the other kids. She hated her for leaving them, for going without a word, for never coming back.
She was saying goodbye to her and she was opening the door, calling out for her father. She didn’t reply and worry creeped up on her. She threw her bag on the floor, searching for her dad. She passed the living room, and she saw a flash of brown hair exactly like hers. Her eyes widened with shock and she gaped at her dad and mom sitting in the room casually as if she’d never left them one night when she was three years old. She waved at her weakly and she stood in one place, frozen, not being able to react.
She turned and fled out the front door, her parents calling out for her behind her back. She ran to her house, rushed up her stairs, tears streaming down her face. She flung open her bedroom door and she turned around, startled. With one look at her face, she reached out and hugged her, murmuring it’s okay into her hair. They sat down on her bed and she asked her what happened. She told her and she smiled at her sadly and hugged her again. She stayed at her house the whole evening until her mom left again, the empty promise of coming back later on his lips.
She was fourteen and she had first kissed a boy.
The guy had been in her Biology class and she had whispered to her, in the privacy of her bedroom, that he was the cutest person to walk on the surface of the Earth. One day after class, he came to her and they started talking. Her crush grew even bigger, he was the sweetest person, with the most adorable smile. They started talking daily and soon enough, hushed conversations and lingering touches became a common occurrence. A month or so into the spring semester, during gym, he walked over to her and pulled her behind the bleachers, which was in her opinion, the most cliched place to make out. They talked for some time and then he leaned in. She blushed and leaned in, her eyes fluttering closed. He whispered her name and his lips hesitantly pressed against hers. His hands were in her hair, effectively ruining the elaborate braided hairstyle she‘d made for her. Her hands after hesitating for some time, ended up on his waist. He tasted of bitter coffee and cherries. She sighed into the kiss and he pulled back, both blushing and bashfully smiling at each other. Later she told her all the details and she scoffed at how cliche the whole thing was.
She was sixteen and she was having a sexuality crisis.
She had been at home on a random day in the summer vacations, watching a documentary on LGBTQ+, when the thought started floating in her mind, Am I gay? Am I bisexual? She shared her doubts with her. She soothed her, telling her that it was okay, she was going to be okay. During this period, she withdrew from the life she knew. She barely talked to anyone, she’d burst into tears; it was the worst time of her life. She barely laughed and everyone at school started talking about her behind her back, about the once bubbly, happy, kind girl who’d gone insane, who’d lost her mind. She hated the world and she stopped talking to her too. She tried to talk to her but she wouldn’t reply; it was all in vain. One day, a few months into the school year, she knocked on her bedroom door. She opened the door and she collapsed on her bed, her kohl eyeliner smudged, her dark circles prominent against her pale skin. She sat down on her desk chair, knowing that she had something to say. She looked down at her hands in her lap, before looking up at her. She smiled at her comfortingly and tears rolled down her cheeks.
“Aw, honey.”she got up and sat down next to her, her arms spread out as if asking for a hug. She obliged and fell into her arms, soaking her shirt with tears. She muttered into her hair, it’s okay and nothing changes and I still love you. That night, she slept in her bed, next to her in the most innocent of ways, holding her hand, scared that if she let go, she‘d disappear and never talk to her again.
She was twenty and she’d come back home with a girlfriend for the first time.
It’d been the first time she’d ever brought a boyfriend or girlfriend home to her dad and her. Her dad had been completely fine with her bringing her girlfriend back home, he’d suggested it. But she was most nervous about her meeting her. If she didn’t like her, well..she needed her to like her. On the way home in the car, she told her everything about her so that she could impress her. She could see her calm expression falling, to be replaced with an anxious one.
When they reached and she opened the front door, calling for her father, she was suffocated. She ran out from the living room where she‘d been waiting for her and hugged her so tightly. She felt her shirt dampen and she pulled back a little, gasping a little in surprise when she saw tears in her eyes, in the green eyes of the one who hadn’t cried since she was seven years old and her mom had died.”Are you honestly crying?”
She smiled a little at the evident shock in her voice and nodded.”I missed you in college, jerk.”
She smiled at her and she reached out for her and hugged her again, telling her she’d missed her, her voice cracking a little with emotion. After about five minutes, she kissed her forehead and pulled back, as her dad entered and hugged her too. After the hug fest was over, she introduced her to the both of them, and she awkwardly waved at them as they analysed her, making sure she was perfect for her. She held her breath and her hand nervously. After an agonizing five minutes, smiles crept onto their faces and they smiled at her, greeting her warmly to the house. She warned her about killing her if she ever hurt her but after that it was okay, comfortable, she didn’t want to be anywhere else.
She was twenty-three and she was getting married to her, with her standing next to her as her maid of honor.
She was twenty-five and she was holding their new baby boy in her arms, asking her to be his godfather, hot tears rolling down both their faces, their cheeks hurting with smiles.
She was thirty and she was crying outside her hospital room, in her arms, having found out she just had a few months to live.
She was thirty one and she was sitting on her empty bed, the left side cold as can be, tears rolling down her face, her son playing outside in the garden with her.
She was thirty-five and she was going on a blind date set up by her, a picture of her smiling in her wallet.
She was thirty-eight and she was at her house, it would’ve been their fifteenth anniversary, she’s sobbing in her lap, but it’s okay, it’s getting better, she’s okay, they’re okay.
She was forty-two and her son was going to his prom, his girlfriend at his elbow, and she was there, taking the cheesy pictures and teasing them; they’re all wishing she was there to see this, and she is, she‘s smiling at them but they just don’t know it.
She was forty-five and she was there.
She was fifty and she was there.
And then she was fifty-five and she wasn’t there.