Today, I Write About Charlotte

My life has, so far, been multiple shades of black and grey and my sights varied in color but not the tone of their hues. The skies, as I saw them, were blue but never bright enough to lift my spirits. Doves were only birds and I saw no difference in celebrating the sight of an animal of the same category as a simple city Maya. I found my solace in the loneliness of absent company, empty chairs, and an open book. But I did find substance in the company of a certain lively, black-haired girl named Charlotte— my neighbor, childhood friend, and the first love my eyes met.

Charlotte knew me deeper than the world did, and I saw in her, comfort my own mind could never give me. She spent her summers playing patintero or tumbang preso in the street between our two opposite houses while I sat beside the asphalt and watched. I never played- my lungs didn’t permit me to. I watched her stride from one chalk-drawn line to another with speed and ease and the most amount of grace any child could bear. I watched her strike tin cans with a precision accurate enough to have caught my heart in the crossfire of slippers and running children. Every summer, my afternoons were coloured not with the blue-turning-orange hue of sky and the wind that dragged with it the voices of screaming, happy children, but rather with the sight of her, turning more beautiful each year. She was my rainbow, even as my heart was colourblind to love.

As summers left and returned and each finished season amounted to years of admiring the bright and beautiful Charlotte, I, along with the transitions of weather, grew an inability to receive joy, for the heart had its own climate, which unfortunately, was frozen in the deficiency of relieving seasons. It was from school to home and school again that to which my mind was confined and my creativity became stiffer as each grey day did not change colour. But, Charlotte was there, and even as we met for long periods of time on fewer days of the week, when she came prancing out from their red, steel gate and her dark, black lockes unburdened themselves from the bun she was always decorated with, tossing themselves about like little, perfect strands of night time, it was as if the glass of my bedroom window stained themselves and bled the colour smiles and sunshine and love were traced with.

Like an open book, she always told me, was how I was. And like an open book was how she treated me; she read my pages and turned them each time we were in the company of each other’s fascination (I, admiring her in all the corners of her awe there were available, and her understanding the mystery my existence held) and afterwards would put me down and learn something from me that astounded her. But, as street games for children turned into hangouts and pastimes for aspiring young adults, my time with my beloved Charlotte was trimmed, and I was left without an audience to critique my unpolished chapters.

I remember, on one beautiful afternoon that her rays reflected themselves upon my window, she meant to visit her lonely neighbour. As we were both in the terrifying, anxiety-bearing chapter of our lives known as high school, she asked me about my grades and the status of my mental health and how the latter was affecting the former. I spoke, and with a trembling fear, as I remember, which tremors until today upon recollection, about how my illness had worsened, albeit at a stagnant rate; I then explained the sorrows of my life— the absence of physical capabilities because of my chronic conditions, the inability to establish relationships that lasted longer than group works, and the difficulty of finding peace in silences which are deafening to a normal, less problematic, human being’s ear. Her eyes glistened pity and her arms reached out her heart’s reply; she embraced me— it was a feeling I felt myself bound to from thereon. Afterwards, she took from the handbag she came visiting me with, a plain, crimson journal of the average thickness.

“This,” I remember her saying, in all the sweetness her voice could more than appropriately muster “is to help you with your depression.” it came with a blue pen. She proceeded to explain that I write my small victories in the notebook each day, so, whenever I wish to, I can open a notebook filled with accomplishments. Not a day of my life had I felt such compassion— not in the sessions with a therapist my parents scheduled for me, not in the lessons and activities they substituted my physical activities with, never. I had grown to love her for that, among other things, and thus I began my lists.

Each day I listed my miniscule victories, and each day she made sure I sent her a photo of them. My triumphs ranged from simple household chores, to improvements in small aspects of my overall academic performance such as quizzes and seat works, to positive increases in my moods. Charlotte was proud of me, she told me. But, to be honest, self confidence was never a quality I possessed, and so I credited all of the journal’s success to her and my affections for her, which were also not my property.

It was because of Charlotte’s journal that my heart had, even in bare quantities, experienced the thrilling transitions of seasons; it was cold as ice but I was lucky enough to have felt a few, short summers in Charlotte’s presence, thawing away the frost trapped in my veins. I loved her from the moment she set foot outside her home. I loved her as she entered mine, and let me experience what it was like to be existent in another person’s universe. And I love her still as I add words to this lengthy narrative of mine, yet before, with a sudden splash of selfish arrogance in the heart and ignorance to the improbability of our togetherness, I thought, I hoped, and I wanted her to love me as well.

I planned to tell her that I loved her on a Friday, when the hellishness of the academe had relieved us. I knew nothing of love besides what my heart spoke to me about Charlotte. I knew nothing of flowers and chocolates and letters in coloured paper, covered with glitter. But I, with an overflowing hope in my heart that was convinced sincerity was more than often rewarded, still wished to proceed with my confession. So I wrote in the journal she gifted, that one of my triumphs today was my confession to her “I told Charlotte that I love her” it was labelled. My heart was in its hottest temperature as I waited for her return- as I waited for my window to stain itself in a rainbow again. Soon enough, she arrived at her doorstep, and with as much speed my build had permitted, I rushed outside, journal in hand and heart on sleeve.

I shouted her name as I exited my home. Immediately, she looked back but it seemed as if she was in a rush. “My victories,” I told her, gasping for air I was accustomed to “read them.”

“Oh,” she said, surprised “aren’t you supposed to send me that later? When the day’s finished?” I then agreed, thinking that there would be no difference if I told her now or later. I just had to. So I apologized, and of course, as the kind and assuring person she was, she told me I wasn’t in the wrong and that she was just in a hurry. I saw her leave not long after, probably with friends I thought, and so I waited more, with my heart keeping its rapid but steady beat, born from the excitement I thought love was. But, she came home with flowers that evening, accompanied by a boy, who left with a kiss on his cheek from my beloved.

Heartbreaking was the shallowest word to describe the pain my heart sank into. I saw it through the very same window I admired her with; this time, the pane was stained with blood instead of rainbows and, for the first time since I had loved, I didn’t think colors would be able to pass through that wounded window of mine again. She texted me shortly after, but I didn’t reply. I decided to leave her to her flowers and her happiness and wallow in the absence of mine. I haven’t contacted her ever since.

Charlotte, as I saw her, was my love— a love made solely for me, a soul whose inner workings had the capacity to understand those of mine. I could never have another love, and I don’t think any other heart would accept what time and effort it took to integrate itself in my universe; there was only Charlotte and the comfort she came with. Today, I am myself, I am depressed, I have no pastimes, and my routines are simply to school and home and school again. Ironically, before, I was always myself. I was always depressed and bored and school was the only place I went to, but I had Charlotte. Today, I am myself, but without Charlotte. And when I think of it once more, when I thoroughly exercised my thoughts on the description of myself, I realize that I can never be myself without Charlotte, but Charlotte can always be herself without me.

It took me longer to pick up the journal; days and weeks of pitiful, paralyzing, heartbreak defeated and confined me to my bed, with my window covered with blinds. Charlotte came by a few times, but I told our maid to tell her that I was sick and didn’t want any visitors, she left me texts and asked about my situation, but of course a wounded heart will speak not to the perpetrator of the injury. It’s true that it is cruel to blame someone for causing pain when what they simply did was use their freedom to love whom they chose, and, in the midst of being chained to the familiar solace of my room, it soon dawned on me that that was all that Charlotte did- that Charlotte, as understanding, compassionate, and charming, as she was even in the presence of my unlikeablity, chose someone whose heart had not been frosted in the same climate for eternity. Maybe she wanted someone with different seasons— someone who could offer her summers and spring time as well as dances in rhythm with the falling leaves of autumn, not someone who knew only winter and the harsh snowstorms that came frequently with it. I realized once more that Charlotte didn’t need me, but, like a beautiful flower, she needed a more hospitable climate to grow.

Accepting that the love my heart involuntarily and unconditionally invested into the beautiful person of Charlotte had been an affection of only one perspective was not easy, and so I resorted to the very journal she left me. I picked it up today and I write about Charlotte and my love for her, still with the admiration she had sprung inside my barren heart. But I write today in the journal where my achievements are supposed to be, and yet loving Charlotte seems closer to failure than it is to victory, so let it be this: Today I write again; I write of the summers Charlotte fashioned in my heart and I write of the frost that the loss of hope of being with her had caused me. I have been beaten yet I have loved, and though that may sound like the expressions of a martyr, I believe today I triumph because today -as I may be staggering in trembling anguish that my love loves another, as I may struggle to find room for the fear and hurt that replaced the home Charlotte burrowed into my heart- today I write, with the strength I believe even she would want to bestow upon me for my own good, that I have begun to finally, peacefully, and yet sorrowfully forget about my beautiful, beloved Charlotte.

11 thoughts on “Today, I Write About Charlotte

  1. Sorry for the delay in replying, as this went to my spam filter. Thanks for your submission, but the story is over the 2000 word limit. However, I will share it with the other submissions on March’s page. If you’d like to enter again for April you’d be very welcome.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Will do! I’ll make sure I go below 2000 words haha :(( If it would also be alright, may I accept criticism for my work? It’s also the main reason I started the blog.

        Liked by 1 person

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