She was 22 years old. Dark lustrous hair, bright eyes, happy smile. She didn’t know how beautiful she really was. All she cared about was being free! Knowing this vacation is probably going to change her life.
She took the ferry across the river – she’d read somewhere that’s the quickest and efficient way to get into the village. She sat on a corner seat, reading quietly when she saw him. Tall, lean in an athletic kind of way. She studied him as unobtrusively as she could. He suddenly turned his head and looked right at her. “Steady now.. sheesh!” were her thoughts when he walked up to her and said “Hey – haven’t seen you before, you’re new here?” She smiled and nodded shyly. He smiled back and said “Okay then, my destination’s arrived. I have to leave now. See you around!”
“Why is it that I can never say something smart and witty when I know I must!” she thought as she saw him sprint across the boat.
She’d browsed these new-fangled ‘homestay’ websites and finally selected this quaint little village. The place didn’t have a touristy feel, it felt more like she was on a different plane altogether – another time, another place. She shook off the feeling as she walked past the clock-tower and towards the lane that said ‘Estimar’. She had arrived!
She knocked on the large wooden door which was opened by an old lady with a kindly face. “Come dear! I am so happy to see you. Let me make you a nice cup of tea while you freshen up”. The girl sat down in the warm kitchen, sipping her tea and watched the brightly colored flowers on the window. “Oh.. so much color! It has been a while since I actually saw color,” she thought.
After a good night’s sleep, albeit with strange sounds she still couldn’t get used to, the day seemed to be filled with promise. She set off to explore. They’d said the village boasted of an actual castle on a hilltop. She slowly walked along the winding road, looking for butterflies, flowers, birds…thinking “Anything with color God.. please.. that’s the only thing I ask!”
She saw him again – he was chatting to an old man on a bicycle. He helped the man tie the basket and walked up to her quickly. “Hey stranger! I didn’t get to talk to you yesterday. So, settled in?” She smiled back “Yes, thank you.” They walked silently towards the hilltop, neither spoke a word. It seemed right that they didn’t speak.
She thought of the last few months she’d spent with ‘him’. There were hardly any silences. Mostly screams, as far as she could remember. She turned to look at the stranger next to her. For the first time, she really looked at him. Friendly eyes that she thought could also take on a gleam of intelligence, strong arms, she could feel the sinewy muscles under his shirt, she knew this man was capable of love, friendship, trust. She sighed “No, I don’t think I can do this anymore.”
She took his hand, remembering the surprised but pleased look he gave her.
It always started like that. She knew the signs. The warm, companionable silences. The interesting conversations. And then somehow, it would all change. She was all of 16 when she’d come home to her Mother. Battered, bruised. Unable to speak coherently. Shell-shocked after what was supposed to be a simple ‘night out with friends’. He had been ‘sent away’ by his parents.
But little did they know. That ‘he’ stayed with her. Always. ‘He’ would never leave. Could never leave. She had him exactly where she wanted. With her. For ‘him’, she gave up all of her ‘colors’. She would now see only black or white.
She looked into the stranger’s eyes and smiled. She whispered to him “Estimar’ means To Love.”
A glint of insanity in her eyes.