#5DaysToVals Contest Entry Submitted by Amie Onwuakagba
A fish could love a bird but where would they live. I have always taught he had the best smile in the world. They came effortlessly. He had beautiful facial features, but of all, his smile was the best.
It was a beautiful June morning, I was going to be sixteen in a few days. The rain had fallen the night before. The morning breeze was heavenly. I sucked in the air occasionally as I made my way to the stores. Many events had orchestrated that morning; David always went for bread, but that morning he was down with cold. We never ate bread on Saturdays, mother made our local bean dish. Nevertheless, the rain the previous night had soddened the firewood. We did not have kerosene. It cost an arm and a leg. The wet woods, after many efforts, could only boil water for pap. Mother decided to serve it with bread.
Suddenly, I tripped and fell over. I had been lost in thoughts. A firm hand grabbed my arms and pulled me up. I stared into brown captivating eyes. I smiled in shame and gratitude and the face smiled back. He was beautiful. I struggled upright and began to wipe my dress profusely. He laughed, softly, “You know you cannot get the mud out. You are making it worse,” he said. I acknowledged, said thank you and walked away. He stood and stared at me. I knew, because when I got to the end of the road and turned back, our eyes met.
Our affection blossomed with the rainy season. He was five years older. We went lizard hunting and fishing together. Some days, we talked about our dreams together. He said I was free spirited like a bird, but he, he was mysterious. We were opposites.
Towards the end of that year, he went to the university. He had gone to study economics. In the first two years, he came back occasionally. His love for me never withered. He wrote me often, telling me about school and the girls there. I read his letters on the small hill overlooking our house. I wrote my letters to him there. On this hill, under this tree, my dreams blossomed. I dreamed of a better life, of going to the university, of my life with him, raising a family, buying a house, being happy. However, in the years that followed, he seldom came home and his letters came less often. Years passed. I went to a teachers’ training college, my family could not afford a university degree.
Sebastian’s father was the richest man in our community. He made the biggest donations in church. He attended every church program and sponsored every missionary work. We were not the poorest, but we were somewhere within that category. One day while I was still in college, Sebastian wrote me a very long letter. In the letter, he said his family had gotten very serious with their plans for him. His father had even threatened to cut him off, they wanted him to become a Catholic priest. At the end of that very long letter, he assured me of his love still. Few months later, he wrote me again. His father had cut off his finances and he was trying to survive. I was worried. He was used to affluence.
On a rainy day in May, I got a letter from him asking me to move on, telling me that he had chosen a path, a life without me in it. My dreams were snatched from my hands, my hopes trampled. I did the only thing that came to my mind at that point, the only sane thing that came to mind. I woke up in a clinic hours later, my roommate had found me on time.
The Christmas season of the year I turned fifty-two, I had visited my parents with my family. After much persuasion, I had agreed to attend the Christmas service in our community church. He had visited his family too. In the course of the service, our eyes met and held for few seconds. In those seconds, I re-lived that cold June morning, my perfect morning, our perfect morning. Our eyes never met again.
It had been fifty-five years since my perfect morning in June. My son had driven me all the way down to attend the burial, I had watched them lower the coffin into the grave, my weeping silent, unhindered. In those moments of truth, reality stood in my face, emboldened, ripping my heart to bits and with it every bit of hope I had had left, he was finally gone.
As I walked back to the car, I could see the brown eyes and the beautiful face that smiled at me on that fateful day in June. The strong hands that pulled me up from the mud, The young man full of life and love that cared for me, that loved me and I thought, ‘A fish could love a bird but where would they live’. My fish lives in my heart.