About: Esmeralde and me
Disclaimer: Sorry, but the characters are mine
Summary: Those swings behind my house...
It was while packing that I found it, that picture of Esmeralda and me, when we were 10 years old. Esmeralda. God, I hadn’t thought of her in at least two years. And now a memory of me and her floods back to me. I was 9 years old when I saw her the first time at the swings of our little school. The new girl in class.
Her name was Esmeralda and I quickly knew that Esmeralda was everything I wanted to be and she had everything I wanted to have. Raven-black hair, beautiful green eyes, pretty face, sweet voice, she was instantly popular with the other kids and the teachers.
I never quite understood why Esmeralda chose me of all of people to be her friend. I was a grey mouse, no one ever noticed me. If I stood in front of the mirror I would see a shy little girl look back at me, with straw-blond hair, usually braided in two strong tails, blue eyes with a hint of green just like the water in the oceans. I was nothing special.
We couldn’t be more different if we tried. Her father had a super-income and her mother always looked sophisticated. My parents were rather bland and normal compared to her parents. Esmeralda and her family would go to beautiful places on summer-holidays. We never went anywhere. And there couldn’t be a new toy out in the shops or Esmeralda would get it... I didn’t have that many toys.
But Esmeralda just loved coming to my place. She loved playing with my dog, Tara. She would love to play on the swings behind our appartment-block. They were old and rusty, but that didn’t really matter, because we could sit there for hours and discuss the problems of our 9-year old worlds.
We would pretend we would marry some fairy-tale prince and have a fairy-tale wedding. Or just play with our dolls. Or complain about boys... She made me dream about holidays to the Grand Canyon, Niagara falls, the pyramids in Egypt.... And we both agreed that boys were SO stupid, and we held on to that firm belief until we reached the age of fourteen.
That is when Esmeralda changed. She started smoking, dressed obnoxiously revealing and she would swear! Oh, my, I never heard some of those words before. I tried my hardest to remain her friend, but one day she told me straight to my face that I was dull and I was holding her back. Boys wanted to go out with her, but not take me in tow. So... would I be so kind as to ... you know... get lost?
I was devastated at first. What hurt most of all was that Esmeralda didn’t even seem to miss me. She just turned around, became friends with the popular girls-clique and never talked to me again. It took me nearly three months to get over it. After the summer-holidays I went to another school and Esmeralda became a distant memory, a fading picture on the wall, until I took the picture down and flung it in a drawer.
Time moved fast. I studied hard, my dog died, I graduated, my father got killed in a car accident and left my mother devastated. Things were not the same anymore after that. I moved out of the house to live on my own. For a while my life was filled with parties, boys and fun. I had a good job, a steady income and life laughed at me...
And then my mother came with devastating news. Cancer. Incurable. The process was a slow and painful one to watch. At first my mother fought with all her might, but slowly she started to dream of being with my father. She told me she wanted to be there for me, but my father.... she dreamt about him every night, she said.... And so I told her to go and be with him... She went...
“I can take care of myself.” Standing by the door of the balcony, I can only murmur those words over and over again. Like I’m trying to convince myself I can take care of myself. I look at those swings where Esmeralda and I used to sit. They stand there, empty and lonely in the fading sunlight. Then I look around. All of my mother’s personal belongings are packed in a few boxes.
I will take them with me to my place. All the furniture I didn’t need has been removed. The house is almost empty.. My eyes fill with tears as I realize how much I will miss this place where I grew up. I sigh and feel it’s time to finish the job. So I put the last few boxes in my car. One more time I walk through the house that used to belong to my parents.
I lock up and, feeling a bit melancholy, I walk up to the swings and sit down on ‘my’ swing, realizing that for the first time I’m really alone. I try to blink away my tears, but it’s no use. The drops are forming with ease and I’m about to surrender to a real good cry, when a shadow falls over me. Someone sits down on the swing next to me.
“Heard about your mom.” Esmeralda says. I remain quiet. So she continues. “I put some flowers on her grave. I wanted to be there for you, for her.. but I didn’t think I’d be welcome.” She softly says, but I can still not move myself to speak. The swing creaks as I go back and forth, a little faster now.
“Hey, I’m really sorry. I know I hurt you and I shouldn’t have done it.”
But I go faster, there’s a fluttering feeling in my stomach. It’s been so long ago since I felt the wind in my hair. As I go higher and higher I can see from the corner of my eye the door of the balcony, where my mother would use to watch me or call me in for supper, I can see the familiar apartment block, but it has changed. I am no longer a 10 year old, I’m 21 years old... It’s my past, not my future.
I go slower and Esmeralda tries again.
“I want you back. I’ve been so lonely without you.” What? After 7 years? “I missed you so badly.” Esmeralda sighs. I slow down my swing and look at her. It’s like I see her for the first time. I can finally see her for what she is.
A spoilt young girl who got too much too fast and who got bored with me and went looking for other ‘toys’ to play with, and now those ‘toys’ are no longer amusing and she wants the old one back. I’m surprised by my discovery, because for one moment I thought I wanted to be her friend again. I stop the swing. The sun is slowly setting. It’s getting dark.
“It was nice seeing you again, Esmeralda. I’m sure my mother will appreciate the flowers you put on her grave, but you know, I don’t care, that you came back.” I get off the swing and turn to her. “I’ve forgiven you. I’ve let you go. I’m not holding on to my grudges. Life’s too short and I don’t need you in my life anymore either. I wish you a wonderful life of your own. But without me in it. Goodbye, Esmeralda.”
That said, I walk away. Away from the swings, away from Esmeralda, away from my parental house, away from my youth, away from my past. But as I get into my car, I know I will keep my memories and the wonderful feelings I had when I lived here. I don’t know where I’m going, but I can dream, can’t I? Who knows, maybe it will even be the Grand Canyon, Niagara falls or the pyramids in Egypt....