short stories ~ literary fiction ~ social commentary
copyright © 1999 - 2013
Breathtaking, mesmerizing. I pined, lovesick. She wasn't in my class, a year ahead of me in 4th grade. I dreamed my best dreams of her, unable to cross the chasm in real life, Helena a Goddess, me a mutt, a self-perception beaten into my mind.
I was Quasimodo to her Esmeralda.
I thought, somehow, if her life were threatened, I could save her, becoming her hero. Oh, the imaginings of a child!
I dreamed my best dreams of her, never daring to do anymore than watch her from afar, memorizing every motion, every touch of tiny foot to the earth, sweep of her long skirts around her ankles, the dance of her light brown sugar hair against the autumn air, dark doe-eyes pushed into pallid cookie-dough flesh, a giggle that made the angels weep tears of joy.
Each night I thought to approach her, just walk up and say hi, knowing full well I could burst into flames as always happens when a mortal confronts a Goddess. Each day, all I could do was watch, frozen like Lot's wife. Each night I planned. Each day I failed, until --
One day, Helena didn't come to school. And, then the next, and the next.
The universe stood still.
I hadn't told anyone of my love, me being Quasimodo, her Esmeralda, that anyone learning of my love would laugh.
A month sat heavy in my belly, I dreamed how I could find Helena, having convinced myself her family moved. A week before Christmas vacation, in a trance, I entered Helena's classroom before school and demanded of the teacher: "Where's Helena?"
Tall, sitting at her oak desk, she looked down on me with measured eyes. She said many things, droning on for relatively a long time, obviously a speech she'd given many time, obviously a speech she did not wish to give.
All I heard was: "Helena died."