I've waited more than 16 years to say the three magic words. I love you.
My eye put a full stop to the sentence by furnishing me with a salty tear instead of shining red blood as I so want.
Her voice left her throat. Her entire being shivered with the chill swimming inside her. Two warm spots appeared in her consciousness. Her skin burned at the two life spots as the burning heat embraced the burning ice. A sharp gasp shot through her twisted tongue. Her lungs went hollow as wind rushed out of them. They broke the surface with a raging calmness. He boosted her out of the water with a steady tenderness. "Charlie!" she hurt her voice as she spurted her words out. Her consciousness blurred as she held her tears back with a crazed steeliness. "Charlie! Go live your dream" she uttered the syllables with a stubbornness that even her fate trembled before her. She uttered the sentence that would change her entire life in just two heartbeats. She said something she'd regret for the rest of her life.
I looked up from the parchment paper sitting dully on my wooden counter. My eyes fell on the glaring light bulb at the opposite corner of the narrow hallway. I felt an electric pull towards it. I quickly shielded my delicate eyes from the harsh glow. My eyes screamed in pain.
"Juno!! Juno, get away from the water. You've played enough for today. Juno, listen to me!"
Ariana screeched at her daughter. Juno stuck her tongue out in frustration and jumped right into the sea. Ariana jogged towards her daughter and caught her arm roughly.
"Honey, it's enough for today. You are sleeping in your swimsuit for god's sake. You look so tired sweetie," Ariana pleaded her daughter.
"Just one more try mom, please," Juno asked her mom with troubled eyes. "Ok," she finally gave in, "but be close to the shore."
The eleven year old Juno hurriedly grabbed her surfboard and ran forward to meet the tides. In her excitement she didn't notice the big tide coming in and was off before her mother saw the peril.
"Juno!" she screamed in terror. Ariana's voice came out muffled and Juno was carried so far into the water by the time she ran into the sea.
"Please help my daughter. Someone please help!" she bellowed at no one in particular.
"Mom," Juno's voice had taken on a weak tone in a few seconds. The huge ocean waves came crashing on her chest forcing her to stop breathing. "Juno," she heard her mom scream before she had been dragged into the gigantic belly of the benthic waters. She shot up one hand in hopes someone would see her there but the hand had been pulled inside by the unrelenting ocean. Water made its entry into her lungs. Her consciousness was just about to flicker off when an iron fist made contact with her aching spine. She jolted out of her hell and into the arms of heaven. Warm and protective arms closed around her when finally she gave into her fears.
I fainted as soon as you put your arms around me. Everyone said it was shock but only I know the truth. They said you saved me out of that killer water and gave you a medal. But I gave you so much more. I gave you my heart.
Charlie, I thank my stars for ever bringing you to me.
I carefully folded the page and slid it into a light yellow colored envelope.
You were the one who made everything right by just holding me in your hands. I've seen paradise alongside you.
I flicked my eyes around my small dust-ridden antique shop; a haunting desiccated cave filled with crystals and glinting gold souvenirs. I trapped myself in this seemingly comforting yet piercing silence for nearly two decades waiting for that one elusive voice to call me by my name.
You chose me, what use would I have for the world? Getting destroyed in your love was the only thing I'm interested in right now.
The door banged open with a clang and Myra rushed in. "Aunt Juno, aunt Juno," she stopped short at the counter and lifted her toes up stretching herself thin to get herself to my eye level. I adjusted my dreary sight on her thin rosy face.
"Aunt juno, why are you crying?" she asked cockily. A felt a scowl etch into my face as I brush my scarce tears off it.
"Myra, I'm leaving the shop for a bit. Is your brother around? I need him to take over" "I'm more than up for it," she piped up with confidence.
"Whatever. Stay here until I send your brother in. only then you're free to play, ok?" I pointedly left the letter on the counter and caught Myra eyeing it with curiosity.
"Myra! Do not open that letter whatever you do! Did you get that? Give that letter to your dad. All right?" I knew full well that she'd open it. I walk along the counter to the back end of the shop as I spoke halting for a second there before slipping out.
I unwillingly stepped out of the hole shrugging into a thick black coat. Some tourists trudged past me looking aghast. They should be if someone was wearing thick wool in the late afternoon on an island known for its bikini bodies. Charlie used to laugh at my over insistence on covering myself up a little too much even on the sunniest of days. He wouldn't be so light about it if he had nearly died in a drowning incident. A chill crept up my backbone and I pulled myself closer by crossing my arms.
My every sigh and every breath had been for you. Your love consumed me and ate me alive. You were my passion. You were my hobby. You were my job. You still are. You've become my life.
"Juno, if you don't come down before the next two seconds I'm off," William called up the stairs to his sister.
"Please, Bill, please. I just need five minutes."
"Nope. I think I'm out of the door this minute. Have a nice walk. See you in school," he shouted sounding thoroughly vexed. She knew he would be punctual. She always ran late knowingly. That way Charlie would be forced to pick her up. Over the last five years, he'd seen the way Juno looked at Charlie and he didn't like what he saw.
A horn blared outside her quaint beach cottage as she hurriedly came out of her bathroom in a towel. The frequency of the sound increased as she fluttered around the room trying on varied tees and different shades of jeans. The sound vanished abruptly but she didn't notice in her irksome state. Finally, she pulled on dark blue jeans simultaneously pushing her head through a cream white tee. Just as she finished clothing herself, Charlie threw the door open. She froze.
His eyes curiously swept through the damp towel on her bed to her hurriedly brushed out hair.
"Get out," she managed weakly as she linked her arm into his and jumped down the steps two at a time.
"You never let me in your room," he complained. "Because that's a girl's room," she replied crossly.
"That's ridiculous. I've been into scores of other girls' rooms," he cleverly shot back speeding the car towards their school. She kept her silence until they reached the school.
"You are an idiot who loves getting into a girl's pants."
Juno gave him a staid glare. She glanced away just in time to hide her first tear of the day from him. "Hey Charlie sweetie," Selena rushed forward to plant a huge sloppy kiss on his mouth. Charlie forgot all about his best friend for the moment and enthusiastically returned Selena's PDA.
My hand crumpled up the card clutched taut inside my fingers. It came bearing a single heart-stomping truth regarding my life.
"I've reached my destination - Charlie"
You were as close as fragrance to my body, as essential as air to my chest, as necessary as a song to my lips and as internal as dreams to my heart. You are my life's companion my darling.
Despair washed over me as I direct my feet to my destination. My fingers slipped and the note flew from my grasp. Cursing the breeze, I started after the flying note which seemed to stay just out of my reach. I ran after it, off the street without perceiving that the sky had darkened considerably. Just as I gave up hope of ever finding the last piece of Charlie I possessed, the skies released torrents of fresh tears that I've forbidden myself to shed. My shoes became burdensome in the soft sand of the beach. I disengaged myself from them as I threw my black overcoat into the shadows too. The rain touched and hugged my vulnerable body; my white dress has been plastered to my curves. I unlocked my tight bun and felt the trickling rivers soothe my dry hair. I blinked hard and walked blindly into the ocean dissolving into huge keening sobs.
Juno shrieked with every spare breath in her body just as her upturned face crashed into the frothy surface of the cavernous deep. Her muscles locked in as she gripped his arm like a leech.
"Charlie," she fretted trying not to let in too much of water inside her mouth.
"Juno, relax. Look into my eyes" he ordered me.
"No, get me out of the water," she moaned gazing into his eyes.
"It's ok. It's ok," he soothed her while working around her with his diving gear.
"I don't want to go inside," she whimpered. After a little time, he pulled the thrashing Juno into the sea.
He steered her unyielding body down many layers of blue. After an infinite amount of time, he paused in front of an oyster shell. He signaled her to open it. She simply turned her face away haughtily. He pulled her hair sharply and she answered back by punching his nose hard. He motioned her to unlatch the oyster again. Having been fed up with his stupid antics, she floated angrily toward it and ripped it open. Her mouth dropped as it was a fake oyster. A glittering gold band drifted dreamily in front of her awed visage. Charlie swiftly caught it and waved it in front of her. She stared at him dumb struck. She rubbed her eyes unable to believe what he was suggesting.
He took her left hand in his and showed her he wants to put it on her ring finger. Her heart took on a frenzied beating as twinkling and crackling lights erupted around her vision. She watched him as he adroitly slipped the band on her ring finger. With a mighty tug, he pulled her close into his embrace. Her body turned hot as it came into contact with his. Her delicate pure white organza gown didn't stop his hands explore her every curve. Unable to stop herself any longer, she yanked him towards the surface with an inhuman strength.
Their bodies hit each other with such rapidity that Juno didn't realize she tore his swimming trunks off him. Charlie wrenched her oxygen mask from her face and slid his hands down helping her out of her dress. She temporarily gravitated down under the sudden weight of his body. He interlaced his arms around her waist shifting his posture fully onto her legs. Her dress swirled around her in a whirlwind like the petals of a Datura flower as the two young lovers tumbled onto each other like the Stamens and Carpels of the flower.
Juno appreciated his gesture. He fulfilled her dream. She decided then that she'd do her part too. Needing some air, the two young people broke out of the surface. She had known from a really long time that Charlie wanted to join the navy and explore the world. He was her best friend and for the moment, his lover. She needs to act according to his wishes too. Hardening her heart against the inevitable and weeping inwardly she gasped, "Charlie! Go live your dream!"
Let me cry today. Let my eyes swell for the joy of your life and for the sadness of mine. Take me into your arms just once so I could remember your boiling touch against my glassy cool; your reassuring skin against my dubious one.
Icy water hurt my windpipe as it made inroads into my organs. I waded through the water until I drowned. But the tidal waves have been surprisingly friendly today. They didn't take me in as ferociously as the day I first met Charlie. My teeth chattered but not enough. My lungs hurt but that wasn't enough. My heart hurt but apparently, that hasn't been enough. I need to end it quickly; I need to reach my destination. As if the moon had heard my silent prayer, it shone brightly throwing the tides into a mad dance. I got lashed onto salty wave after wave until my entire nervous system gave me up. I was so far into the sea surrounded by insane waters that I felt exhilarated that I'm about to pay a winning tribute to my life. My love was as deep as the oceans and it was fitting justice that it gets crowned by the very ocean.
Let the river inside me drench you with good things to come and wash joyous things onto your feet. This Juno will always think of your good Charlie because this little girl has loved you most ardently and had been ever dedicated to her only love.
"Charlie! Go live your dream." "Charlie…go live your dream" "Go leave your dream"
The words reverberated around my head as I began to slide into the deadly deep.
Without warning, a hard chest rammed into my back and I felt warm hands haul me up fiercely. I dimly registered a man cursing in some dark language that would make me turn pink in broad daylight. I hung limply onto that voice. He boosted me up once again causing me to disengage from my lonely thoughts. I made a very weak attempt to get away from him. He screamed into my ear just as he hauled me up for the third time.
"Juno! Damn it. Please don't die. Please don't die. Juno!"
My heart stammered for a few moments before my eardrums became aware of the voice I'd heard a million times.
"What?" I mouthed realizing my voice was blocked.
"Charlie!" I gasped just as 16 years ago. I whirled around with the same inhuman strength I possessed that day.
"Charlie!" I managed a sad wheeze running my shaky fingers across his hardened façade.
"Charlie!" I sobbed with eyes as puffy as a volcano's mouth.
"I found her!" I heard the savory voice again.
A spotlight fell on our non-existent shadows and burned my salt-rubbed skin. My eyeballs rolled in my eyes and I was gone.
As close as the darkest secrets of my heart, as close as the raindrops in a cloud, as close as the frolicking waves to the calm sea, as close as my retinas to my eyes, you got yourself embedded into my heart. I love you Charlie. I will always love you forever and ever.
My subconscious played tricks on my consciousness by repeating the same words I wrote in my letter. I tried to lift my arm but it hung loosely onto my side making no mistake about the degree of annoyance it had for me. I've sacrificed my body for the hot love I so craved for and perhaps, have looked over the sweet cold that I already possess. I frowned trying to move any one part of my body but none responded. My eyes too didn't listen to me. Every organ was spitting fire at me but I hung on as I loved fire more than ice.
"Charlie," I breathed attempting to speak.
A bass voice shushed me gently. "Charlie!" I wept piteously striving to move my temple towards his God. I felt soft hands scoop me up effortlessly and carry me away somewhere. I still had great difficulty in opening my eyes.
"Charlie," I groaned, "I can't move anything." He chuckled silently as he lowered me into something damp.
"No," I screamed, "don't leave me." I immediately bit my tongue in embarrassment. He remained quiet.
I felt hot scalding water abruptly descend upon me. I twisted away from the source crying for help. I heard commotion a little far from me; people having a dispute in a huddle. Eventually, I heard a door close firmly near me and heard movement beside my blind countenance. A body pushed me under the shower in a violent manner and forced my curves to feel their place.
"I'm not naked, am I?" My voice experienced a slight shakiness although it came back to normal. After a few empty beats, warm lips pressed against mine. I struggled away from the human contact. "Juno! Be a good girl," he grunted and compelled me to open my eyes.
My thick eyelids flew out of my pupils' way to meet the blue eyes of my dreams. "Charlie!" I breathed feeling sweet tears of reconciliation on my face; then came the realization of something not being right. I blinked in the boiling shower unable to comprehend the proceedings.
"You said you reached your destination?"
"Where is it?"
"It's not a place, Juno," he rolled his eyes patronizingly at me.
"I don't understand you," I put a shivering hand to my forehead.
He sighed wearily. He held both my arms in a flowy motion and looked deeply into my eyes.
"I've lived four and thirty years on this earth, Juno. I've spent a greater part of that without you. I realized it a bit late but every second I spent with you was worth more than all the diamonds in the world for me. Every girl I've been with, you were the standard I measured them against. You have been the quintessential girl for me; a girl must be like you; I'm proud to tell you that I've never found a replacement. Plainly speaking, I survived all my hard years depending heavily on your smiling face and your resounding decision. You let me free baby, to live my dreams. And today, I say that my dream has always been you." He leaned into give an icy kiss to my warm lips. The tables have turned.
My breath was incomplete. My heartbeat was incomplete. I was incomplete. But now, the moon had been made complete in the sky and now we are whole.
(A/N THIS STORY IS INSPIRED BY A BOLLYWOOD SONG FROM THE MOVIE 'FANAA'...'MERE HAATH MAIN TERA HAATH HAIN'...A heartbreakingly beautiful song...the letter from juno to charlie and the words have been heavily 'inspired' by the wonderful lyrics written for the song...thank you for the inspiration....sincerely...iris...xoxoxo)