Once upon a time far far away…
“I know it’s a cliché, but it’s true” he said drawing her close to him. She felt herself melt in his arms, she drew her breath as if breathing in for the first time. She listened to her heart beating in his chest, it calmed her. She didn’t want to think. She didn’t want to think about clichés, myths or fables and fairy tales which sometimes came true. Just the other day she saw a shooting star. She was sitting up, staring as she often did at the dark blue sky. She routinely looked at the sky on most evenings as if trying to see if her heart would be reflected in just one of those stars which littered the infinite sky. Why she continued to do this she didn’t quite know. Perhaps she was keeping a promise she had made to her 13-year-old self. A promise she made every night to her imaginary soul-mate at the time. Because when she was 13 she believed in fairy tales, in dreams coming true, in clichés. She truly believed in the words of a romantic ballad which an unexpected friend taught her in her first year of high school. Her Taiwanese schoolmate sang it to her in Mandarin Chinese and though she didn’t understand the language she enjoyed watching her friend sing it. Her eyes would close lightly while her tiny lips puckered together like a red Lollypop. Her head would tilt from side to side in time with her off-key melody, strands of her black hair flickered, browning in the glow of the yellow sun – the girl who believed in fairy tales would watch her friend sing, transfixed. Fortunately the original song was in English and when she found the words and learned the melody, she would sit outside her veranda at night and sing to the sky. “Somewhere, out there, someone’s saying a prayer, a prayer that we’ll be together somewhere out there, our dreams will come true…. And even though you know how very far apart we are, we might be sleeping underneath the same bright star!!! Somewhere out there, love will see us through…. Somewhere out there our dreams will come true”.
Two decades later and after thousands upon thousands of nights spent star-gazing – this shooting star was unmistakable. It was something she had never seen before. It happened without fan-fare, with no dramatic introduction. No drumroll preceded it. It happened as if it was a natural, everyday occurrence. And yet it was magnificent. Beautiful. She actually didn’t realize she had been looking up at the sky until she saw it, there, beaming across the horizon so bright it took her breath away. It was as if it was meant only for her. At that very moment she felt she was at the right place at the right time, and had been purposed to sit right there facing the exact spot where the star would beam across like a magic wand. In that split second the star seemed to say “hello, is it me you’re looking for?” It happened quietly, peacefully, softly. Unexpectedly. There was no tremor, no earth quake. It flew across like a gentle breeze.
“I just saw a shooting star!’ She said excitedly jumping up and down on the couch like a little girl. He looked at her curiously, his eyes smiling, no words passed his lips. “I have never seen a shooting star before” she said smiling. She felt like the luckiest girl in the whole wide world. Suddenly she realized that she had forgotten to make a wish, as traditional folklore dictates. People said one must always remember to make a wish at the sight of shooting stars. So she sat there with a wide smile on her face thinking about what she could wish for. The evening was sensuous-ly warm and the night crickets were singing loudly to the calming charms of flowing water. She could not think of a single thing to wish for at that very moment. The evening was perfect. She was fully and wholly content, even happy. A kind of happiness she had never known she could feel or have. It did not feel as fleeting or as temporary as a sugar high. This time it felt as if joy had arrived and had come home to stay with her, forever in the form of a shooting star. But somehow the girl who believed in fairy-tales still wanted to make sure, she wanted to be sure that she wasn’t dreaming this time. She wanted to be certain that she was not making this remarkably beautiful moment up, this feeling of being complete, of being completely one and whole. She somehow wanted to be certain that she was not escaping reality and moving into a world of make-believe, just as she had seen thousands of stories play out in movies and the many books she had read. This time she wanted some kind of a guarantee, something that will show her that what was happening to her was real, this time she wanted to know without a shadow of doubt that she was not exchanging reality for a world of fairy-tales and shooting stars and knights in shining armour riding gallant horses from palatial castles far, far away. She was too old for fairy tales. Had seen too much to know better than keep her pre-pubescent, childhood dream alive.
“I looked it up” he said the next day at lunch. “Hmm? What” she said trying to remember if she’d made a request for information. “I looked it up, your shooting star, apparently it was a night of shooting stars, it was meant to happen, there were several meteor- showers, it happened everywhere” he added resisting a smile. She wondered if he meant to say it didn’t just happen to her. “Oh that’s great!” she replied “it makes it more special that I shared it with millions of other people” She thought dismissing his logic. As it happened the girl who believed in fairy-tales was quite lucky to see this shooting star. Astronomers call it the Perseid Meteor Shower from the comet Swift- Tuttle. She was lucky to see it because not only was it rare and sought after by astronomers and star-gazer alike, one could see between 60 to a 100 showers an hour. Without planning, wishing or even hoping to, she saw the biggest and brightest of all meteor showers expected in that year. It was so large, she was glad someone had documented it’s falling, otherwise she would have led herself to believe, in time that what she saw was just a figment of her imagination or an image she had seen somewhere online, in books and or Television and not something that she had actually seen with her own naked eyes.
“I don’t want to say it because it does not make any sense” he said hesitantly, turning his face away from hers. His arms outstretched on the bench in total surrender. “What” she probed “You don’t want to say it because it would seem crazy to say that….you’re falling in…”
“I’m falling in love with you” he said interrupting her. While staring into the distance.
“I knew you didn’t want to say it so that’s why I had to say it first, one of us has to be grown up about it!” she replied playfully.
“No I said it first” He said.
“No I said it first” she retorted.
“You know I said it first…. And it’s crazy to say that just three days after we first met…” he continued slowly.
The girl who believed in fairy-tales smiled, laughed and nodded. “It is crazy” she agreed looking at him and feeling remarkably calm and surprisingly completely sane.
“I know it may sound like a cliché but in this case it’s true… I think I’m falling in love with you” he said.
“Me too” she replied “it’s not a cliché, it’s a fairy-tale”. She thought to herself.
“I think I love you more than you love me” he said shaking his head
“No that’s not possible” she said laughing incredulously.
“I love you” she said amazed at her confidence.
“I love you” he said
“See I said it first” she said
“No I said it first” he said drawing her nearer.
They held each other and in that moment. They both knew.
They were home. Together. In the great somewhere out there.
That night she turned the page of her yellow notebook and re-read her own words, written in prayer five days previously. She had forgotten about them, the words, her prayer, just as soon as she finished writing them in black and white. Now they read like a dream within a dream:
‘Thank you for the love I have had in the past, thank you for all the angels that you have brought my way. Thank you for my companion, a lover and friend who is kind, generous, courageous, intelligent, strong, affectionate, disciplined, adventurous, caring, funny, fun-loving and simple. Thank you for giving me a companion who loves me. Who is not afraid to show it. Who can express his feelings and emotions clearly. Who will fight for me. Thank you for a companion who will inspire and encourage me to be a better and more loving person. A companion, a lover and friend who will bring out all the best of me and love me even when I fail. Thank you for a lover and companion who will love Only me. Who will only want me as his sexual partner. His only wife and the only mother of his children. Thank you for a lover and companion who will meet my needs even before I know I need them. Thank you for a lover and companion who will truly be a friend, who won’t mind listening to me, engaging me on work and other topics of interest to both of us. Thank you for a companion who will open up a new world to me. Who is not afraid to share himself, to open up. A friend who can teach and learn. Who will support my work as fiercely and passionately as he works on his own. Thank you for a companion who will be my help mate and someone who loves to play. Thank you for the fun and beautiful amazing life that we have together. Thank you for making it easy for us to find each other, see each other, and accept each other and to never leave each other’s side”.
She realized. For the first time, she wasn’t dreaming.