a short tale of true love and endings.
1992: The meeting.
Maude, aged 15, was new in town, and lost, and alone. And then suddenly there was Amy, stood in front of her, the epitome of everything Maude had ever wanted: a year older, she was beauty, grace, and intelligence. She wasn’t hers, not yet. But she would be.
1993: The first kiss.
Amy glowed in the dim light of the room, as if she held the memory of the sun in the light of her golden skin. Amy was the sun, and Maude was the moon; she just needed to borrow a little light, and then she’d be capable of igniting the sky, too. Shaking hands stretched out into the darkened space, fumbling for one another. To Maude, kissing Amy felt like something she’d done a million times, and she probably had, in dreams and half formed thoughts. She’d probably kissed Amy more times than she’d kissed anyone else, if kisses count when they’re only in your head.
1994: The leaving.
It wasn’t Amy’s fault that she had to leave. She’d always been the brightest of the bunch, and Maude knew that. It didn’t mean she wouldn’t be missed every second of every day, though. Or that their love would fade. Scholarships, while rare, were nothing in comparison to the brilliance of the light that shone in the eyes of those girls when they looked at each other. Amy would go to the city, and Maude would stay in that small town, waiting for her love to return. She would wait patiently, and bask in the fading light of the sun, as the night began to dawn.
1995: The return.
The love the two of them shared had not diminished in the absence of one another. They were grown now, sure, but that light hadn’t faded; they still blushed to look at one another, still giggled between the sheets in their dimly lit rooms. Returning for their anniversary meant Amy missed the city, but she had returned home, and nothing else mattered. Home was wherever Maude was: they planned a visit in the spring, and then another in the summer. They’d make sure to be together.
1996: Her last breath.
Amy was perfect. Born with concrete eyes, she was a child of the city. No small town could have stopped her from flying. But on returning to the city, she forgot herself, forgot everything but the haze of small town values. She was a girl who walked home alone at night. She was the start of every warning, the punch line of every mystery story. A girl who walked home alone at night; a monster, dressed as a man; there was blood, and it was hers.
1997: A visit to a graveyard.
Maude had been wrong before. She wasn’t the moon to Amy’s sun; she was nothing but charred remains and cinders. She was Icarus: her wings had melted, and she was drowned, in sunless, cold salt water. Maude was beyond sadness. Sad was such a tired old word. If she ever wrote a book, she’d never use that word. It’s nothing but a placeholder for something too big to properly explain. Amy was gone, forever, now, and there was nothing Maude could do. Maude’s ending was still far ahead; she could see the years like miles stretched in front of her, road glimmering with unfulfilled promises and unfinished ideas. Amy’s life had ended, and Maude was left in the aftermath, left to struggle on without the other half of her tarnished soul. There is no point in the moon without the sun; there is no light to reflect, nothing to balance out. All Maude was now was a dull empty husk, a rock circling a cold, dead world, left spinning in the fathomless depths of space with no light to guide her.
2005: A second chance (of sorts)
If Maude was the moon, Nell was the world: she was simple, but full of life, and her kisses were as magnets to Maude’s soul, keeping her ever circling, grounded. With Nell by her side Maude could not forget Amy, but she could use the memory of her to greater advantage. Maude did not have to be alone. Nell knew, was the thing, she knew that she would never be the first in Maude’s esteem. She had a love, too – Daniel left her, just like Amy left Maude. And in the aftermath Nell and Maude found each other. They were broken halves of a whole, two broken pieces relying on one another to stop their jagged edges from cutting. Occasionally, the rough edges of their souls would snag on the others, and they’d be left fighting for days. But it was not enough to tear them apart. They knew abandonment, and sorrow, and loss, and would not bring it on themselves again.
2007: A sort of understanding
Maude, aged 30, was new in town once more. She felt like that blushing school girl, staring up at the towering figure of a girl in front of her. But it wasn’t Amy, could never be her again. Nell was beautiful, and funny, and kept her grounded. They would live together, in a semblance of happiness, until such time as either one of them found someone who could do a better job. Of making them happy, that is. Maude didn’t cry at every sad song she overheard anymore; Nell didn’t struggle against her in the middle of the night because she didn’t understand where Daniel had gone. They were good for one another in the way only those left behind could be. And although they missed their eternities, the dazzling stars in the sky, they knew that a warm body in the middle of the night (who did love you, even if not exactly in the way you wanted) was better than nothing.
So Nell and Maude lived together, and loved one another. They never had children, because what kind of parents would they be? But they kept dogs, and cats, and a parakeet, and it was almost enough to fill the hole that was their hearts. Not quite, but almost. And a life measured in almosts and in-betweens is better than no life at all.