We had grown together,
picking sweet, ripe berries side by side.
Gorging ourselves on their soft flesh until our bodies were as plump as them.
We would talk together.
I would listen to her sweet voice.
The way it warbled and the captivating lilt to her phrases.
When she spoke, she spoke to my eyes.
She spun tales for me to devour greedily,
yet her eyes never left mine.
She was an endless stream of honeyed stories and embellished anecdotes.
And me, I was parched and starving,
yearning for her voice to mitigate my pain.
And it always did.
She lay on the soft grass gracefully, her limbs splayed out to reveal their length.
And she would stay until I was quenched.
Then we would walk home together,
slowly, in no rush.
We’d walk cautiously down the hill,
pushed by gravity’s relentless hand, then we’d stop.
Stop to admire the landscape:
the green trees that lined the hill,
the donkeys that brayed in the distance,
the roofs of houses at the edge of our sight,
and most of all each other.
I would play with her hair,
wrapping her springy curls around my fingers.
She would laugh and her laughter was not stifled.
It rang loud and crisp;
I was sure everyone could hear it.
And we’d keep walking.
I would speak to her, with my words, simple words.
I would tell her about my family and my siblings,
but my words were weak.
I could not repay her for the joy her voice brought me.
I spoke at her.
Words directed towards her, but they made no connection.
Still, her eyes would brighten and she’d begin to speak.
And I’d forget my sorrows for I was no longer pertinent.
Just her and her tapestry of words.
Home was a chore.
A limbo where I had to wait to see her again.
My parents were simple.
They spoke of politics without understanding
and of tragedies they did not care about.
Grey compared to her yellow.
Bright yellow, like the sun,
but also muted yellow like grass in the summertime.
Monotonous, boring grey.
They loved still, my parents.
Like good parents, they cared, but that was all.
They could not express their love in art or color,
through food and shelter only.
For the latter, I was grateful.
Afternoon would come and color would return.
She always waited right by my home,
holding a basket full of bread so that we may feast.
I would hurry,
quickly saying simple words before letting her voice wash over me.
She was radiant and gentle,
her beauty overwhelming.
One day she brought more than bread.
In her basket, tucked in the corner, was a book.
I had books, I could read them well.
When I heard her read to me,
I quickly realized that I couldn’t.
Her voice brought the scenes to life.
Vivid images danced inside my mind,
characters speaking to one another,
the plot flowing like a river.
Books never spoke to me.
They never performed when I so requested.
After she was done, I realized that I was jealous.
For once, I wanted her radiance,
I wanted to snatch it from her and keep it so that I may impress her for once.
And so I looked at her and cried; I hated my jealousy.
Confusion flashed through her.
She didn’t want this.
Over and over, she asked me if it was her fault
and I could do nothing but sob and shake my head.
Still, she apologized, promised to never read to me again.
No! I did not want that!
I wanted to have her magic.
I wanted to not be simple.
Still, she comforted me and apologized for slights she did not commit.
And so I ran away.
Taking no time to admire the hill,
or the donkeys.
I allowed gravity to push me as I stumbled down the steep slope.
I listened to no words and returned home,
where everything was simple.
Grey and simple.
My chest ached with guilt.
I’d left her alone on the hill.
Alone with her radiance and alone with her words.
A stream that quenched no one,
alone in its beauty.
Still, I stayed home,
hearing the words that my parents pushed unnaturally out of their orifices.
My mind drifted back to her face,
her honeyed, soothing phrases.
Each word blessed with life once they left her tongue.
I had no envy left in me.
Only longing to see her again.
She was better than me, but I missed her.
So I slept.
My sleep was fitful as I dreaded the incipient day devoid of her presence.
I dreaded the tedium of myself alone.
When I woke, I did not dare move.
A life without her was pointless,
burdened by the inexorable monotony of those around me.
she was still a bright light,
radiant, and complete.
I was inconsequential.
But I got up and moved slowly,
achingly, as I mourned what surely was a great loss.
I dressed, my gaze fixed on the floor.
I shuffled through the doorway and into the parlor.
I knew that she wouldn’t be standing behind the door as she did every day.
I had myself to blame.
Did she miss me?
Was she as pained as I?
So I opened the door,
gaze fixed on the floor,
my feet moving on autopilot until I felt a tap.
Quickly, I turned,
reeling back at the sight of her.
She merely smiled.
A forgiving goddess in the presence of a plain mortal.
She smiled and walked with me,
At the top of the hill, she paused
and handed me a notebook.
Plain, full of blank pages.
She handed me paints.
Easy enough to use, even outside.
“Go ahead,” Were the only words she spoke to me.
And I obliged.
My strokes were initially tentative, small marks.
When I looked up at her again,
I saw her beaming, admiring my work.
So I tried again,
confident and strong.
I saw them.
I saw the colors in my work,
radiant and bold.
Similar to the colors that flowed from her.
They were strong and overwhelmingly beautiful.
She looked to me.
To my eyes.
And her words were simple,
black and white,