Eternity

Monday, February 14, 2011

By Gian Carlo Licanda

****************************************************


I stared at the old photo of grandma when she was at my age, eighteen. She’s very beautiful and charming. Lot of people says I resembled her. I am a new version of her, and I agreed with them.
I really do love staring at her pictures. It was like staring at myself, wearing old clothes and with old hairdo. It’s fascinating. Every vacation when I moved her, I always asked grandma to open her wooden box, where she puts her old treasures like combs, mirrors, hair clips and photographs. I just love it.
“Gabrielle”, Gran called in her croaky voice. “I want you to have this. It’s been on my possession for very long years”.
She slowly opened her palm and revealed a beautiful silver necklace with a butterfly pendant. I sat beside her and she clasped the necklace around my neck. I held the pendant and watched myself in the mirror. “It’s beautiful”, I whispered in astonishment. “Thanks gran”. I said and embraced her.

“Take good care of it, Gab. It’s very important to me.”
She stood up and sauntered around the room. She stopped near the window and looked towards the old oak tree on the top of the hill. “Ah! I can still remember the day when our love blossomed like tulip in spring time. I was at your age back then.”
There was a pause, and then she continued. “But a tragedy brought us apart. It shattered my heart in pieces. It separated us, and there is nothing I could do to bring us back together. Nothing.” She turned to look at me and I could see tears ran down to her cheeks. She sat back beside me on the bed and smiled. Even though her hair was all gray and her face was covered with wrinkles, she was still beautiful.
“So, you have a very beautiful love story with grandpa, huh? Surpassed all obstacles. True love.” I said and looked at the necklace’s pendant. There on the butterfly engraved “ Gabrielle”. I was named after grandma. She’s Gabrielle, too. “No I’m not referring your grandfather, she said. Peace be with him to whenever he is right now,” she added. “I am referring to the boy whom I knew what love is. My first love. My one and only love.” She said and closed her eyes. “But that doesn’t mean I didn’t love your grandfather. I love him. I really do”, she added defensively.
“But, what happened to both of you? Why didn’t you to end up together?” I asked.
“Oh, it’s always a long story, Gab”.
“It always a long story, gran”.
She laughed. She stood up and went back to the window. “A tragedy. He died.”
“Oh! I’m so sorry.”
“But life must go on. Even if it’s really hard to live without him. I met your grandpa and he showed me the courage to live. To continue my life.” She said and smiled.
******
I went out to the balcony after lunch. The crisp wind of May met me and it blew my dress behind me. I inhaled its floral scent. It’s very refreshing. I enjoyed watching the daffodils and roses in the front lawn garden, dancing in the zephyr. I looked into the old oak tree on the top of the hill. I reckoned there was a hell of a view from the top. So, I decided to go there.
I was dazzled by the beautiful view I could see from the top; the whole village of Crustville, and the enchanting deep blue sea that embraces it. “It’s beautiful”, I whispered in amazement.
I sat on the meadow, having a great shade form the spreading branches of the oak tree. I pick a dandelion and blew it into the air. I laughed as I remember my childhood. I used to blow dandelion puffs with Louis, my childhood friend here in Crustville. But they moved when I was eight, and I haven’t heard about him since then.
“Gabrielle!” , I jumped on my feet when I heard man’s voice.
I looked around but he’s nowhere to see. Suddenly, someone embraced me from my back. I knew he was a stranger, but there was something in his arms that felt so right. It seemed like I’ve belong to these arms. “You’ve come.”
I struggled to be freed from his arms, even though the back of my head tells me not to. I turned to look at him and sucked in my breath. I couldn’t help it. He’s beautiful. He was maybe six two, with lean body. He had a delicately boned face with cheekbones like razors, and rich dark brown eyes framed with beautiful and long eyelashes. He has a mop of reddish and brownish curls of hair. He smiled at me and revealed perfect white teeth.
He held my gaze for a long time, and I cannot even move any single muscle. I was stunned. He continued to stare in my eyes, and his smile slowly vanished. He turned his back against me and r5an away until he was out of my sight. “What’s wrong with him?” I muttered to myself. I waited for him, hoping that he would be back and introduce himself. But he never came back, and so I went home.
*****
The next morning, I woke up when the bell of the church rang. I sat back on my bed’s headboard and yawned. I threw my covers off and hopped out of my bed. I stretched my arms and back, and released another yawn. I almost stumble on the hairbrush lied on the floor. I picked it up and sat on the stool, facing the mirror. I brushed my hair slowly, feeling the smoothness of every strand. I pulled it into a ponytail and squeezed it tightly. I headed to the bathroom and turned on the faucet. I threw some icy-cold water to my face and scrubbed it.
“Gabrielle? Gabrielle, dear?” I heard Aunt Martha knocking at the door. “Come down and we’ll have our breakfast”.
“ Coming”, I called from the inside of the bathroom. I took a deep breath as I dried my face with a towel .I headed to the door, and just as I opened it, the smell of the roasted chicken filled my nose. My stomach groaned.
“Morning gran”, I kissed grandma’s cheek and sat on a chair beside her. On my other side was Chloe and Clyde, Aunt Martha’s twins. It’s fascinating to have twins, especially like them; a girl and a boy. Aunt Martha put the chicken and we began eating after she said the grace. It was delicious. Aunt Martha was indeed a very good cook.
“Gabrielle, do you know how to fly kite? Clyde asked me. His mouth was full.
“Oh, yes. Of course. That was easy”, I answered.
“Can we play a kite later Gabrielle?”, Chloe asked hopefully.
“Sure. I’d love to. “I answered and they both giggled excitedly. I looked at Aunt Martha who rolled her eyes, and then smiled. “Just finish your breakfast, then. So that I’ll play with both of you”, I added.
“Oh! Yes! Yes! “, they answered in chorus.
*****
Later, we were waving goodbye to grandma who was standing at the door. The two kids were very excited to leave. We went up the hill where there’s enough wind that could lift up the kite. As we got on the top, I spread the mat on the grass. The two were very eager to fly their kite so I helped them. They enjoyed watching their kite danced with the wind. They ran and ran like kittens playing a ball. Sometimes, they’re rolling on the grass. I enjoyed watching them.
‘Hey! Sorry for what had happened yesterday”, a familiar voice called. When I turned, it was the man I saw here yesterday. Before I could even respond, he extended his hand in front of me. “I’m Ken.” I grabbed his hand and shook it. “Gabrielle.” An electricity ran through my body, from my head down to my toes.
“I know.” he said.
“How d’you know? My name?” I stammered.
“Does it matter?” he grinned and raised his eyebrow. Oh, Gosh! This guy is smoking hot.
“Of course it does.”
“Let’s just say I’m interested in you.” I laughed out loud. He’s seemed a nice person.
We spent the whole time talking with whatever that just occurred in our mind. I enjoyed his company. It was easy to make friends with him. I love listening to his velvety voice. It was music to me.
“Gabrielle, let’s go home.” Chloe called. She’s already holding the kite and Clyde was rolling the rope.
I turned to Ken and said, “Gotta go.”
“Will I see you here tomorrow?”
“Uhm… we’ll see.”
“Really?” he smiled.
“No. I mean, I’ll try”, I answered.
He laughed and I turned away from him. I headed to Chloe and Clyde who were already running down the slopes of the hill.
“Hey! You two, wait for me!” I called out but they didn’t even slow his speed. Naughty kids, really.
*****
Months had passed, I and ken became friends. Very intimate friends, indeed. We always spend our time together; talking, swimming, and he even taught me biking. My heart always jumps in happiness every time I am with him. He has this power to put smiles on my face easily. My days were perfect when he’s around. He’s the missing piece of my puzzle. He’s everything in my life. Omigod.
“Where are we going?”, I asked as we are walking in the woods. He’s in front of me, holding my hands as he led the way. He light was slowly fading as we went deeper into the woods.
“Just wait, Gab”, he said and smiled his crooked smile. He winked at me, and then continued walking. “We’re almost there.”
The rushing cold wind brushed my face. The leaves rustled, and I could hear his breathing. From a distance, I could hear a rushing of water. Suddenly, beautiful waterfalls appeared as we continued our way. As we got nearer, I could see a hole behind the waterfalls.
“We’ll be passing the big hole. See that?” he said and pointed the hole underneath the falls. “There were steps in there that will lead us up to where I wanted you to bring.”
“Let’s go?” I asked him.
“You seemed excited, huh.”
“Yep. Just make sure there’s really a hell view up there. Or else, I’m gonna…”
Before I could finish my sentence, he’d cut me off and said, “Of course you liked it up there. We used to spend our…” he paused.
“What?” I crossed eyebrows in confusion.
“Nothing”, he said and motioned me to move forward. “Let’s go”, he added.
*****
“It’s beautiful”, I turned to Ken and smiled. He smiled back at me. The place was beautiful and enchanting. The meadow was full of blossoming daffodils, lavenders, roses and tulips. Butterflies were fluttering everywhere. The zephyr was filled with the floral scents. It was like an enchanted world of fairies. I went in the middle of the round meadow of flora and lied. Ken lied beside me. I could feel the grass on my back, soft as cushions. The peace was very peaceful and serene that I can ever hear Ken’s breathing. Peace and serenity wrapped the atmosphere.

“Do you like it here?”, Ken asked. He lifted his hand on the air and a butterfly rested on his finger. I reached out his hand to touch the butterfly. But before my hand landed, it flew away. He grabbed my hand and twined his long fingers with mine. I felt a tingling sensation. He put my hand on his lips and planted a kiss on it. “Do you want to go now?”
“Nope. I wanted to stay here for a moment”, I answered immediately. I looked into his eyes, and added in a whisper, “With you.”
“Stay here. With me”, he repeated. He pulled a twig on my hair. Our eyes held. Flustered, I looked away. “I like the sound of that”.
“I like the sound of that, too.”, I said.
He rose up on one elbow to look at me. My heart was pounding very fast. It’s loud thumping echoed to my ears. He leaned in toward me slowly, stopping his lips an inch away from mine, our breaths mingling. Then he covered my lips with his and a thunderbolt hit me. He cupped his other hand on my face, and fingers threading in my ear. I slid my arms around him and buried one hand in his thick curls. He pulled away and smiled. I wanted to pinch myself. I couldn’t believe this dream of a man was mine.
“I love you, Gabrielle”, he whispered.
“I love you, Ken”, I kissed his cheeks.
*****
The next morning, I went to the hill half-running. I found Ken already there, doing something on the oak’s tree trunk.
“What’re you doin’?”
He turned to look at me then smiled lopsidedly. He walked towards me. I smiled of what I saw carved on the tree trunks. There on the trunk were the words “Ken loves Gabrielle”, inside a heart.
“Do you like it?” he asked.
“Yes. It’s perfect. It’s romantic”, I said and kissed him. When I pulled away, he looked behind my shoulder. I turned and saw Clyde standing, watching us.
“Hey! What’re you doing up here?” I called.
“Your Dad is there. He wanted to see you.” he answered.
I turned to Ken and bid goodbye. I walked towards Clyde and held his hand, and together we went downhill.
*****
The sun was already setting, making a beautiful silhouette of the oak tree. A young oak tree? I looked at the trunk to where the carving was placed and smiled when I found it. As I continued watching it, tears ran down to my cheeks. Pain struck my heart at the thought of Ken leaving popped in my mind. But I know it’s for his best.
“Gabrielle!” Ken called behind my back and I turned to him. I thought he already left. He ran towards me. He embraced me and I cried. He should’ve left already. Father will go to kill him.
“What are you still doing here? You should’ve left already”, I said, more tears were streaming down to my cheeks.
“I can’t. I can’ leave you. I can’t live without you. I love you”, he said while cupping my face with his hands. I could see his eyes glistened with tears.
“Just go away. They’ll kill you. Just forget that you love me.”
“No. That’s impossible, and you know that. Listen—-“he squeezed my hand and he breathes deeply. “——if loving you will just going to kill me, I am not afraid. Come what may!” he added, his voice gaining strength.
“I want you to have this”, he opened his hand and revealed a silver necklace with a butterfly pendant.
“Gabrielle!” father shouted fiercely. His pointing his gun to Ken. “Come here. If you want this man to live, come over here.”
“Father, please, don’t do this.
“Mr. Grimble, I love your daughter. No matter what you’ll do, I will never, ever leave her”, Ken said, shielding me from the view of my father.
“Even if I’ll kill you? You left me with no choice, bastard!”, just before I could talk and stopped him, a loud gunshot echoed through my ears, I stood frozen, unable to register what was happening. The scene was like in slow motion. I watched Ken as he slowly falling in the ground. His chest was spluttered with crimson, bloods. It seemed like my ears were blocked. I can’t hear anything. Then Ken reached the ground with a loud thump. Then I am back to my senses. I only heard the melodies of the crickets. I knelt beside Ken and held his hands.
“Ken! Ken! Don’t let go. Don’t leave me. You promised”, I said. My chest felt tight. It seemed like the air left my lungs.
“I’m … ugh… I’m… sorry”, he stammered. “I love you, Gabrielle. And I alwys be loving you until eternity.” Then he groaned. I could feel his agony. We held our gaze. Then he slowly closed his eyes.
“Ken! Please… Ken!” I shouted.
“Ken!”, I wailed.
“Gabrielle! Gabrielle”, gran called in her hoarse voice.
‘You’re just dreaming.” She hushed me.
I opened my eyes and I’m back to my room. It was just a dream. Thank, God! I embraced grandma while sobbing.
I pulled away and touched the pendant of my necklace. I felt something rough on the back of it. I turned it and saw engraved on the back of the butterfly was the name, “Ken”. I was confused.
“Ken?’’ I whispered.
Grandma smiled at me. “Yes. Ken. It was his name. My one love.”
“Gran, can you tell me what had happened to him?”
“Why do you want to know?”
“I just wanted to know. Please, tell me.” I said, and she sighed.
“Our affair was a secret. My father, your great grandfather, didn’t approve our relationship. He wanted me to marry James Grumstone, the son of the richest man here in Crustville…” Grandma continued telling their love story. When she’s nearly done, I could see tears in her eyes.”… And father shot him, straight to his chest. He died up there on the hill.”
I cried. Her story was very the same with my dream. “You know, I never tried to wear that necklace. You were the first.”
“Do you have a picture of him? Can I see it?”
“Yes. Wait here,” she walked out the door, heading to her bedroom. When she returned, she brought a small wooden box. I opened it and look out the pictures.
The first picture was grandma at my age, standing beside the young oak tree. I covered my mouth in shock as I see that on the oak tree’s trunk, there was a carving similar to what Ken carved. I turned to the next picture. It was him. It was Ken. I stared at his crooked smile, beautiful eyes framed with luscious eyelashes.
“How was that possible?”
*****
“How old are you?’, I asked Ken as we are sitting underneath the old oak tree. I was leaning my back on his chest.
“Why do you asked?”
“Just answer me.”
“Nineteen.”
“How long have you been nineteen?”
There was a paused. I waited for his answer, but he didn’t. I stood up and he asked, “Where are you going?”
I stretched my hand in front of him. “Take my hand. Come with me”, I held his hand and together we went down the slope. I held his hand tightly, feeling its warmth. I knew that it would be the last time I could hold his hand.
*****
What are we doing here?” he asked as we stood in front of grandma’s bedroom.
“I want you to see her”, I smiled.
He crossed his eyebrows in confusion and asked, “See who?”
“Gabrielle. Gabrielle, the girl with the green eyes. The girl you love. She wasn’t me. Look into my eyes”, I felt pain starting to crumple my heart. I turned the knob and slid the door open. Grandma was sitting on her bed, knitting. She turned to us. I motioned Ken inside and I stopped at the doorway. I watched him as he slowly make his steps towards grandma.
Just as he reached grandma, he glowed. It seemed like lights came out from every pores of his skin. Grandma stood up slowly. Did I just imagine it? Or really I saw grandma transformed from eighty-seven to eighteen. She’s beautiful. We’re like fraternal twins.
“I always knew she wasn’t you”, Ken whispered to her.
“I’ll go with you know. Take me, wherever you will go’’, she said. She slowly slid her hands to Ken’s face. She wrapped her hands around his neck, and he slid his hands and wrapped them around her waist. They kissed passionately. I could feel their longing for each other. The light from Ken was strengthening. It blinded me so I covered my eyes. The light felt warm.
“Thanks, Gabrielle”, I heard grandma mutter.
The light disappeared and I slowly opened my eyes. Grandma was back in her present form, lying on the bed. I walked slowly towards her and sat on her said. I grabbed her hand and pressed my index finger on her wrist. No pulse. I looked into her face. I couldn’t help my tears from flowing down to my cheeks, knowing that she’s dead. But she’s happy now, b ecause she was reunited with her one true love in eternity. A thought came on my mind from what I witnessed: True love is like an eternal flame. It will continue to burn until eternity.
*****
I stood still while watching grandma’s coffin was slowly lowered in the ground. White roses where scattered on her coffin. I looked at the white rise held in my hand. I smelled and kissed its petals, and threw it on her coffin.
“Let’s go”, Mom whispered her hands on my shoulder.
“I’ll just follow you.” I answered. I looked into her eyes and saw they were rimmed with red. I smiled at her and said, “Don’t be sad, Mom. She’s happy now.” She smiled back and embraced me before leaving. Suddenly, an old man stood beside me, watching the coffin also. ‘You’re very like her. Only your eyes were different. Hers were green”, he said in a hoarse voice. I don’t know how to reply him, so I just smiled.
“She’s a great lady, your grandfather. Intelligent. Charming. Very kind. Beautiful. No wonder why Ken admired her, loved her, and risked his life for her.”
“Ken? You know him?”
“Yes. He’s my twin my brother”, he answered. He looked at my back and muttered,”Oh! Here’s my grandson, coming.”
“Gabrielle!” a familiar voice called; a velvety voice that was music to me. I knew that voice. I loved that voice. I turned in shocked to see Ken looking unbelievably sexy.”What’s he doing here? I thought he was in peace now?
For a moment, I thought my overheated imagination had conjured hallucination. I stared open-mouthed at his dark brown eyes and luscious eyelashes, waiting for him to disappear. I blinked several times, but Ken was still standing there. He slowly walked towards me. A dandelion held in his hand. He stopped in front of me and blew the dandelion. Its puff scattered in the air. I stood motionless and watched the dandelion puffs as they flew in the air. A memory of my childhood flashed on my mind. Then, recognition came into me, when I saw a dimple on his right cheek. He wasn’t Ken. He was…
“Louis?” I asked.
He nodded and smiled crookedly. I embraced him very tight.”You’re a big girl now.” He said.”I’ve missed you”, he added.
After all the things happened in this past few days, my heart was feeling lighter now, I never expected to see him again, my long lost best friend. I felt this was the beginning, and the end of my love to Ken.
The End!!!

2 comments:

Bette February 15, 2011 at 11:12 PM  

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