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Summer of Mirabella

Kimberley Cocklan

I remember that day as if it was yesterday. Sitting outside in the iron chairs, the sun melting our skin, the air thick and heavy, the sky hazy. I remember driving into the already crowded parking lot -- crowded at three in the afternoon -- and seeing you sitting there, feet up, cigarette in hand, smoke fading into the sky above. My heart skipped a beat -- little butterflies in my stomach, I remember that clearly -- as we hadn't seen each other for several weeks. It would now be different, and I was grateful for that. You were never a student to me, you were more a friend, one of those rare friends, rare souls, that many never connect with. We can now talk without the barriers between us.

           You laughed at me as I walked toward you. I waved -- you saluted. I think I was late, and you scolded me. I scolded you right back for getting your drink already, as this was supposed to be my treat. I got my own coffee, and we sat, feet up, lazily drinking, you smoking, me chewing on my nails. Comfortable. This was supposed to be a final goodbye for us, but after talking, we both knew it wasn't, we would stay in touch. I was glad for that.

           Glad you had finally graduated, glad that you were eighteen.

           We were always comfortable with each other; we talked easily. We could sit in complete silence and not feel as if we had to make conversation. You talked about going to Mexico, how you'd love to go again and take pictures of the water, the landscapes, the beaches.

           You played with your lighter, holding the flame up to the underside of the table. I slapped your hand away, telling you to stop. You ignored me.

           We laughed at a fleshy female walking by, tight dress, breasts spilling out of her top, fake brassy hair lit in flames, orange skin, stilettos that could pierce a hole in the pavement. You pretended to get up to hit on her. I laughed at you. She's not your type, I said. You agreed. We ridiculed the decked-out cars that would roll by, low-rider wheels, transmissions scraping the ground, the heavy, deep, BOOM BOOM of the bass that rumbled in our -- what did you say? -- kidneys, I think that was it, the spoilers and wings that stretched miles high, the pretty-boy types behind the wheel, dark shades on, leaning back, one arm stretched over the steering wheel. You talked about your type, talked about the impossibility of you ever finding your type, talked about how many of your friends are older.

           That's why you hang with me, I said.

           You asked if I thought you were mature.

           I said, yes.

           We talked easily about everything. I hadn't realized how alike we are, even after knowing you for two years. This was different. Better.

           We were finally equal.

           We tease one another. We used profanity, slang, all pretenses and hypocrisy washed away, something that was not allowed before, due to respective roles we were trapped in by a brainwashing, militant society. Books, movies, photography, bands, painting, everything we had in common passed through our lips into the space between us.

           I discovered we are both givers, creators, artists, and sometimes, others take advantage of us.

           You easily called me by my first name.

           You are a rarity, a true, genuine, creative soul that I am so thankful to have known.

           I knew we would keep in touch. But I was sad nonetheless. You left, ready for your new life, while I stayed behind, having just gotten to know a new friend.

           Obsessions can maim, even kill, the fragile moral codes of humanity, the virtues with which we live by. It overtakes us like a virus, eating, growing, destroying, until all that is left is a skeleton of what we once were. The obsession is not prejudiced, not racist, has no bias for or against gender, age, ethnicity, mental stability, or social status. It does not discern, it does not pick or choose. It simply attacks its prey at their weakest moment, when it knows the prey has no strength to fight. It overwhelms the prey, devours it with no mercy. The prey is vulnerable, unable to overcome its attacker. The attacker, the obsession, after destroying, completing this task, leaves the prey gasping for one last breath while it moves on to its next victim.

           I am a normal person. Not extraordinary or heroic by any means. I had a normal upbringing, live a normal life with a normal marriage, a normal house, a normal job. I am of normal intelligence, average social standing, with normal friends, likes, dislikes, fears, insecurities. I am not one to stand out from the crowd, or at least, I would not notice if I did.

           But it happened. And I can't go back.

           Life is forever changed by one action, one moment of vulnerability, or psychosis, or fear, or raw animal need. Not just my life, many lives, altered, confused, torn apart.

           Stability and security lost forever.

           I would not change a thing.

           I remember that summer, the blazing heat, the sun melting everything in its wake, giving a hazy, surreal glow to the world below. The air, heavy, thick with moisture, pressing down upon the earth.

           Passion of the world, of nature, of things beyond our control mirroring the passion within.

           He was eighteen. He had just graduated from the school at which I was a teacher, a student of mine for two years.

           He was a musician, an artist, an intellectual. He was striking. Not handsome, but he left an impression with his crisp, cool blue eyes, his chestnut, unkempt hair, his pale, thin, animated face. Different. A beautifully rare piece of artistry.

           I helped him develop his amazing talent. He, in return, developed something inexplicable for me, admiration, attraction, a sense of belonging somewhere, with someone, as he was his own person yet somewhat lost.

           I fed his attention. I fed his adolescent crush, his desires, his emotions, ensuring that they would grow stronger with each day for my own satisfaction, a cure for the unexplainable desire and intense longing I felt toward him. The desire he fueled relentlessly.

           I was afraid of him leaving. The emptiness, the void, the hollow ache in my chest that grew with each heartbeat was too much for me to bear. The year was ending, resulting in his inevitable departure. And then where would I be? What would I do? How would I rid myself of these thoughts and feelings?

           I kept his class portfolios. Graduating seniors are given the option to keep them or throw them away. I kept his in an effort to keep a piece of him, knowing I would never see him again. I read and re-read his work, spent hours pouring over the glossy photos, the drawings, taking in the words, the life that is him.

           He is gone, the year is over, summer has washed itself over the world in full force, the stains of time tattooing themselves onto my soul. All that exists now are memoriescrazed fantasies of what could have been.

           I live in the past, where only he and I exist, afraid to face a future alone.

           The day is hot. Blurry, scorching heat blazes off the pavement, off the cars, off the people. Window sills are overcome with a steamy fog, the cool air-conditioned panes no match for the fire outside. Bodies are drenched. Sweat drips from the skin with the slightest movement. Everything is in slow motion, nothing moves except the drops of perspiration as they accumulate on the concrete below.

           I sit outside, watching the passersby, sipping my drink, spiked with cheap vodka, as is my insatiable need for alcohol. My feet are up, legs lazily resting on another chair. I think of him, as I have everyday for several months. I see him in every stranger that walks by. I look for him in every car that whizzes past. My heart plummets to the depths of my darkened soul when I realize he is not here. The young man, barely a man, who has stolen my reason and set my body on fire.

           He has become the object of my lunacy.

           I have access to all student information, and I use this to feed my desires. I betray trust with the simple entry of an ID number, and I suddenly know where he lives, what his phone number is. I drive past his house a few times a week, my heart quickens when I see his car parked in his driveway, and I picture myself stopping at his house, seeing him outside, instructing him to get into my car. We drive away, desire and lust pumping in our veins, and we give in.

           A smooth voice from behind interrupts my thoughts, and my body shakes at this familiar sound. He is behind me, he puts a hand on my shoulder, and I tremble at his touch. I look up at him and I see his eyes set afire, and I feel that fire build within me uncontrollably. It overwhelms me, erasing the voice of conscience in the back of my mind, extinguishing my marriage, my morals, my sanity. A hug is exchanged, no words are spoken, and we leave together, knowing full well what will happen.

           These blazing days are spent like this, a vacation from life, from societal restraints, from the burdens of daily responsibility and despair. I give in to my darker, obsessive self, a self I had never known until I met him.

           We fall victim to our bodies, they mesh together, the skin, the breath, the souls becoming one. Unending, addicting pleasure washes over us; it is a drug neither of us can let go of. We go on using everyday, it does not stop, and we are thrown deeper and deeper into this immeasurable desire, losing touch with reality, living solely off the pleasure we receive from one another.

           I take him relentlessly, my body demanding the pleasure he gives me, demanding the intoxicating high that I cannot live without. My addiction grows, he is the drug I can never stop using. Satisfaction fills me, the knowledge that I am his first adding to the intense pleasure. I teach him, show him, and he learns willingly, as he had once done in my classroom. I help him discover another talent, and he uses it expertly, the sensations, the high increasing with the heat of those summer days.

           We travel from his bed to mine and back again. I tell him I am crazy for him, that I need him. He does not respond. He instead continues to feed me the drug that is he, the drug that my body, my soul, needs so desperately. I ignore the growing voices in my head, the warnings, the signs that this can never lead to happiness, only despair.

           We live in the moment, fueled by this addiction, afraid to face the future.

           Until the future explodes in front of us, turning all we've been avoiding into harsh reality.

           Life catches up with us as the summer dies. This twisted love, this addiction, this obsession transforms itself into something ugly and grotesque. Hatred fills the soul, fear grows intolerable.

           A single, simple life is destroyed by greed and selfishness.

           I despise him for the pain he has caused, I love him for the pleasure he has given. I cannot let go of him, and I watch as the world around me crumbles. Shrieks and angry sobs fill my ears, my betrayal now so obvious, the secret, stolen moments discovered by another, the one person, innocent of all that has unfolded, torn apart by the greedy, selfish, lustful actions of his wife and her young lover.

           Their love for me fades with the color of the trees, with the change of season, becoming desolate, crumpled, bare, cold, dead.

           The husband is gone forever, having been so blatantly scorched by these inhumane actions. The lover has moved on, a piece of me still with him, but he will never return, he is scarred, recovering from an addiction that had once consumed him and stripped away his innocence. He is rebuilding his life, rediscovering innocence and purity, escaping the demons of that summer.

           I cannot move on. I am still consumed with thoughts of him, lost in the memories of that love, forever addicted to the drug, this addiction that leaves me at its mercy, this addiction that will eventually kill me.

© 2003 Kimberley Cocklan, all rights reserved
 appears here by permission

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