This post is dedicated to anonymous! We didn't want to keep you waiting, hope you like it <3
I barely slept last night. All I could think about was him. Your mind does what your heart tells you to do, and mine was telling me to think about him. Nothing haunts me more than wanting to see him, his face... I went to work with Pietro this morning and he asked me about Young, I said that I no longer see him. I had to prove him that I don’t see him by not taking any coffee breaks. He believed me. A promise is a promise, no matter what you cannot break it.
I had to leave in five minutes to meet up with Young, as promised. It was 3:10, but I liked to be prompt and organized. It gives people a good impression about you. I served one more table before leaving; my shift for the day was over. I received the employee of the month award earlier today and I was so proud of myself. Can you believe it, a month has passed by already? Pick a job you love, and you’ll ace it. Being a waitress is so much fun, you can read people so easily and when you do the right thing it places a smile on their face. Putting a smile on someone’s face didn’t cost a thing, unless you count time as something valuable. Then you’re already investing your time into something precious, a smile. Notice how the word itself is heartwarming? Smile. It makes you smile, unconsciously.
I folded my apron quickly and placed it in my handbag. I ordered a mozzarella sandwich and frullato, Italian word for smoothie. I paid then made my way out, it was 3:14 at that time. I saw some street vendors as I walked past by; I bought a couple of shirts, a jacket and two shorts and a pant for Young. I chose the pants that had elastics bands on top, so I didn’t have to guess his size, its free size. I reached the Grand Canal at 3:36, almost jogging to reach there on time.
Young! I was so excited to see him, I almost hugged him. Almost. As honest as possible, I’m going to tell you this because we’ll, we’re friends and you already know so much about me. I want to hug him; I want to know what it feels like to be around him.
Oh, you have no idea! I was highly anticipating for this time of the day to come. I felt like a child, like he was reviving my childhood again. And I missed it.
Let’s go to our secret hideaway shall we?
Walking between the crowds, I got the frequent stare. Why would a girl like me be walking around with a guy like him? In their eyes a beggar. He dressed in the same clothes everyday. And I think I did the right choice by buying him some new clothes. We reached our place.
I got you something. I hope you like it. I handed him the bag of clothes. He opened the bag, took a brief look of what was inside and remained silent. He came closer, I wasn’t sure of what he was about to do.
He hugged me. Hugged me! I hugged him back tightly, inhaling his scent of cigarettes, leather and something else, which my nose couldn’t filter.
Thank you. He whispered. I could feel his fast heartbeats and unsteady breathing that meant that he liked what I got him.
You bring me happiness and joy. Thank you Young.
We sat down quietly. I gave him his sandwich and drink and he ate in silence. When you’re around someone you like, this silence becomes something extraordinary. It doesn’t bother you; it doesn’t urge you to say something just to fill this empty moment with something. Instead you sit there, listening to each others breathing, and occasionally hearts beating. And when you get these moments, embrace them, because they’re precious. He stretched his hand out and opened his palm, inviting me to place my hand on his. Opportunities like this don’t happen so often, and I took it without even having to think about it. His hands were rough, he had blisters, and his skin was dry. Is that the outcome of dehydration? I pulled out a water bottle and gave it to him.
Tell me more about yourself. I said while playing with his hand.
What do you want to know?
Anything? Everything? Your past, your present, your future? What you want, what you need. I want to know more about you, I want to know more about Young Bill. Open up to me…
Well my future is unpredictable. Having you around is currently filling my present. And my past? Its something I dread talking about. People expect you to be a saint, or some kind of angel. But I am no saint, and I am no fallen angel. I may even be that stranger your mother warned you about, am I right?
Doesn’t matter. We’re beyond that point. I paused. Now it’s just you and me. I whispered.
I keep asking myself this question, what is an ambitious person like you, doing in a place like this with someone like me? A low class citizen, current occupation beggar. If I were in places like India, they’d refer to me as the untouchables.
Why do you insist on belittling yourself? I see you as someone over and above that.
Aren’t you ashamed to be here with me?
Ashamed?! That’s a very harsh word to use to refer to yourself. What makes you think I’m ashamed?
I don’t know… Do you regret the things you do?
Never. Things happen for a reason, you do things for a reason. But I never regret it.
I love your courage. I wish I had that in me.
You do, Young. All you have to do is believe in yourself. I believe in you, but what I don’t believe in is the state that you’ve put yourself into. Somehow we’re always being dragged back to the road of regrets, like a powerful force pulling back. But that doesn’t stop us from being who we want to be.
A moment of silence is a moment of thoughtful thinking. Something or someone broke him down, but he can’t glue himself back together. I felt like it was my job to gather these pieces and bring them back together in better circumstances than ever.
Life is a labyrinth, you gotta find your way out. Or else you’re going to suffer, suffer in that pit hole of pain, agony and sorrow. He wasn’t so calm when he said that, he seemed angry.
All I ask for is a second chance.
A second chance?
Yeah, like a clean slate. You know? Where any problem that’s arisen from the past is forgotten, no one knows about you. A fresh clean start. I did things in the past that I didn’t want to do but I was somehow enforced in doing so. Its not like I had no choice, I did, but because of social pressure, peer pressure. Some people just want to destroy you…
I know what you mean. I’ve been there before.
These set of eyes; they made me become a different person to try to fit in. I’ve been a friend with the worst kind of people, just to feel that sense of belonging.
Exactly… Except I don’t have beautiful eyes like you… I wanted him to describe himself to me. I feel like nothing is stopping me from pulling that hoodie down, but I had to respect it. Maybe he’s trying to hide something away from me, I don’t know what it is but nothing can possibly repel this beautiful soul of his. The more I thought about it, his features, the more I fell for him.
We spoke a lot. He asked about my childhood and I told him the tale of a family that had a girl and two boys. Then he asked me the most interesting question.
What made you choose art? It’s a natural god given talent, but why, why not study something else?
You want to hear the short version of the story, or the long version?
Well if the longer one means we’ll spend more time together, then longer for sure. I instantly smiled.
Well… I was five at that time. Back in the days, our house was the only house in the neighborhood. When I was four, an extremely wealthy family built a house facing ours. They were very very verrrry wealthy, it was crazy. The things they had, no one in this world has ever seen. This wealthy Emirati family had two sons. You know as an Arab tradition, we usually send something over to our neighbors either as a welcoming gift or just so we can create a friendship. So my mother cooked a lot of food, she usually doesn’t cook this much because we’re a small family and we’re not the wealthiest people out there. We carried the dishes and walked to their house, the security that was sitting by the gate called the maids to help us with the dishes. He didn’t let us in, disappointed, we went back home. My brothers and I used to play outside in our bicycles; they used to drive motorbikes outside. I’m not sure if we were jealous or not, but I’m pretty sure we were amazed by what they had. We were literally drooling over the bikes ahahahahaha. So we eventually became friends and I used to hang out with them. When I was eight their elder son was 22, he used to study abroad (in the States) so whenever he came back he got me a gift. So, one day he got me this art kit, I remember it vividly. So clear like it was yesterday. It had 5 brushes, and the three primary colours: yellow, red and blue. He looked at me and said, these brushes are going to change your life. I never knew what he meant. But now I do. And there’s not a single second that passes by that I don’t thank him for this, I pray night and day that god would keep him safe and happy.
What happened to him?
That’s an unsolved mystery. Since that day, I never got to see him again. I never really got to thank him. I want him to see what he made me become, I want him to be proud of me. I… I miss him… I really do…
In life they tell you to move on, but I can never really move on, not if he’s in the picture… He’s out there somewhere I can feel it.
Never lose hope. He squeezed my hand. I won’t as long as you’re there by my side…
We spoke until we got tired. Until I began yawning, a sign of exhaustion, which was hours later.
Will I see you again tomorrow?
I don’t know…
Pass by this place at 3:45, the same time as you did today. If I don’t show up by 4, then know that I can’t make it.
Please try to come, know that I’ll be waiting for you.
Good night. Take good care of yourself, Young Bill.
You too Shamsa.
“When it was dark, you always carried the sun in your hand for me.”