She misses him. And her being hasn’t yet agreed to it. Her shoulder just dropped. She doesn’t have a logical explanation for what is happening to her. Her heart which is built of strong muscles feels weak and sick at every beat. She can feel the flow of blood at every inch of her vessels. It’s like a river squeezing its way through a constricted passage. She’s wearing a face of ache, the kind that has no logical explanation. Her feet feel numb as though blood isn’t getting to them. She can’t take a step. They are in a world of their own.
She sits on her bed, dumps her face in her palms and lets the tears of missing him flow. What else can she do? Swallow painkillers? Take an antidote of love? She takes a stroll.
Her name is Beautiful.
She remembers the mundane things they did together; doing the dishes, cooking their favorite food (mostly her favorite food), cleaning the house. These things brought them together. They enhanced their connection, a connection that would stream a video without buffering. She liked rice and chicken. He loved her and everything she liked. She loves to dance. He loved watching her dance. She’d whine for him. He’d grin. She’d make him get up and dance. He’d move his bones with the shyness of tortoise.
To her, he was flawless. To him, she was spotless. They were like a sea saw, balancing each other’s personalities daily.
His name was Fort.
They’d go on walks to the woods with their pinkies locked like a chain link. They’d stroll into the trees, blessing each other with smooches along the way. Kisses on the lips and cheeks and hands. When he was feeling naughty, he’d plant one on her bosom. She’d playfully push him away as she giggled. And he’d cover his face like an embarrassed child who was caught stealing sugar from the bowl.
In the woods, they found a place which they christened Home in the Jungle. These were the remains of an incomplete fortress from the 15th Century. Oral tradition didn’t pass down the entire story of why its construction halted. They say the then king wasn’t sure if the kingdom needed it or not. So, he engaged in a game of chess with his son for clarity. The game went on for five days. On the sixth day, the king made a blunder of a move. He left himself exposed.
“Checkmate,” said the prince.
Losing that game gave the king the clear head he needed. He walked to the balcony of his palace, scanned around, leaned against the supporting rails and nodded. He had made his mind up. He sent word through one of his servants to the men who were constructing this structure.
“His Majesty orders that you immediately stop this construction,” he said. All the men who were at work put down their tools. They went back home to their families and broke bread with them at dinner. That is how the fortress never rose to what it should’ve been. Regardless, it remained something to behold by the people who lived here. The king too would spend some of his time here with his family.
Fort and Beautiful would walk in to this vintage incomplete fortress through the concrete entrance. It had an arc. Fort noticed it.
“This arc reminds me of a protractor,” he once told her.
“A protractor? What’s that?” she asked.
“Oh Beautiful, don’t tell me you don’t know what a protractor is!” he said, placing his hand to his chest as though he was struck by a spear.
She wasn’t a mathematician like him. She didn’t care for angles whether they were in degrees or radians. Knowing what a protractor was didn’t define her love for him. It didn’t matter. To her, a protractor could’ve been an animal that’s a member of the cat family which orange whiskers and grey teeth.
They’d stride along those remains, hands clasped together. They’d hear the rustling of fallen leaves under their feet and birds singing tunes of love to them.
The barks of the trees were unusually inviting. They’d touch the rough barks and admire the sequence in which they were arranged on the stem. The leaves were smooth and easy on the fingers. They’d smell the fresh aroma from the leaves and soak in the cool breeze from the forest.
Their love was accentuated by nature.
They’d sit on the old stout concrete wall and talk for hours on end. They’d gaze into each other’s eyes and whisper endearing words, words of affirmation and support. Their hands would be glued together, their eyes on each other.
“I’m thankful I found you babe. You are my superman,” she’d say.
He’d take it in, breathing in all the particles of positive vibes that left her lips to his ears. He’d acknowledge the sincerity in her words with a nod, squeeze her hands close to his and plant a kiss on her forehead.
“You are my heart darling,” he’d say, “I need you to keep going.”
The first time he said those words, she didn’t understand what he meant. Did he need her to keep saying the compliments? Or for him to keep striving and living fully, he needed her in his life. That confused her. She didn’t hear any punctuations in his voice. Fort read the sign of uncertainty in Beautiful’s face. He fixed it.
“To keep going, I need you. You are my heart, darling.”
And they’d busk in this moment of
love in silence, with their eyes into each other’s.
She’d walk to the open expanse and do a ballet dance for him. The music she danced to were the sounds made by the wind and leaves. He’d applaud her with a standing ovation. And together, they’d walk to the stream in the woods. They’d cross over a bridge made from a log that fell from the forest. There’d be frogs whistling and croaking. Beautiful didn’t need to kiss any of them to find her Frog Prince. She already found her Fort.
He isn’t with her today. She’s alone in the woods.
This story is part of a collaboration with Ninno Jack Jr, a photographer whose knack for visual story telling has the fragrance of a rose garden. Check out his collection on his website here.
Photo credit: Ninno Jack Jr.