"Between These Two Walls" is one of the January Writing Challenge entries that was chosen to be a featured story.
I never liked goodbyes. Heck, who does, really? Although, this one is different. It’s different because it’s her.
She was my first everything. My first friend, first kiss, first love, and now also first heartbreak. I should have known better, though; she isn’t the kind of girl you are supposed to fall in love with. She is more the type that you know you should avoid at all costs, because you are destined to lose her, and when you do, it’s like embracing your worst nightmare.
The first time we met, there was a playground between the yellow and the green wall surrounding the backyard, where we 15 years later see each other for the last time. It had been a small, modest playground, the kind no kids really nag their parents about to go visit. Nonetheless, the rotting sandpit and the melancholy slide next to a crumbling swing set was enough for me, because five-year-old me had found a place where he could play without being interrupted or questioned. That was until her family moved into the apartment above ours, and she spent a solid month’s worth of days observing me from her window in a not-so-discreet way. I was beyond annoyed with her, until one day, when she brought down a piece of chalk and taught me how to play hopscotch since I had “looked bored” going up and down the decaying slide. Then, we drew terrible chalk portraits of each other on the green wall in a poor attempt of perpetuating our newfound friendship, and giggled when our parents scolded us about it.
My first kiss was quite spectacular, I have to admit, but not as a result of me being particularly good at kissing, nor because it was very romantic or anything. It was special because it was with her. Also, it happened between these two walls, just as every other decent story of me growing up. The sandpit, along with the rest of my childhood, was long gone, replaced with nothing but cold, impersonal concrete. The different coloured walls, however, were preserved and had become an endless source of inspiration to me. Perhaps it was that the green went so well with the nuance of her eyes, or maybe it was her trademark blonde hair that fascinated me when we were sixteen years old and played around with the camera I had gotten for my birthday that year. While I was determined to take artsy, sharp shots to do her features justice, she enjoyed the spontaneous outbursts of laughter — resulting in me not being able to flaunt my creative techniques. Our photo sessions usually ended with us sitting with our backs against the green wall, me presenting my favourites from the day’s shoot. One day I had taken a surprisingly large collection of pictures I was content with, all in focus and well-adjusted, something she wasn’t too fond of.
“Here, let me,” she had said while yanking the camera from my hands. Then, without any warning, she angled the camera to make the lens face us, and used her free hand to grab my chin. Before I had had the chance to process what was happening, she had pulled my face towards hers and connected our lips. To this day, that’s my favourite photograph taken with that camera, or any camera for that matter, which she knows bothers me senseless. The picture is out of focus, badly lit, and everything I strived to avoid. On the other hand, my lips tingle just by looking at it, since it depicts my favourite person closer to me than she had ever been before. She didn’t know that I had never wanted anything more than I wanted for that sweet moment to last forever, until now, when all I really want is for her to stay.
The thing about her, however, is that she doesn’t stay in the same place for too long, which I learned the very same day I realized that I loved her. It was a year and six days after our innocent, but oh so marvelous, kiss, and she was sitting next to me on one of the benches against the yellow wall, right beside a flowerbox. We had come home from a friend’s house party, but she didn’t want to go inside just yet to avoid being caught drinking by her parents. The night was silent, and if it hadn’t been for the bright full moon illuminating the backyard, no one could have told that we were sitting there, waiting for the scent of alcohol to wear off. What happened next was extraordinary solely because of how unextraordinary it was. She fell asleep. Heavy head on scrawny shoulder, soft hands cupped by freezing palms and drowsy breaths in sync with my shivering ones. The moment was so pure, so honest. It was just me, her, and the stars above, and everything made perfect sense. She trusted me wholeheartedly, to the point where she felt safe enough to let me watch her sleep, and that was all it took for me to whisper “I love you” and mean it that night. Only minutes later, though, her phone went off, breaking the spell. She jerked awake, and the second she answered the call she was back to being someone else’s girlfriend and I was back to being miserable.
Now we’re both 20 years old, and she’s leaving. I am heartbroken, tormented by the excruciating thought of once and for all watching her go. When she finally turns her back on me, the ironically colourful walls laugh at me as I’m devoured by my worst nightmare. These walls used to comfort me because they reminded me of her, but now they torture me, because just as the apartments hidden behind them had been my first home, she was too. She was my first everything. My first friend, first kiss, first love, first heartbreak. She was my first home, and now she’s gone.