Blue-eyed baby: Part 1

We look at the world once, in childhood.
The rest is memory.

— Louise Glück, “Nostos”

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There are some memories that stick with us, their photographic detail piercing in retrospect as we recount details to an enraptured audience.

There are other memories which require us to pick our brain, scavenging for stray threads that unravel to reveal clusters of concealed fears and transgressions against us.

When I remember her, I recall a few details first: her crown of impossibly golden hair that fell down past her waist, a symbol of our vast differences and erotic power.

Then, I recall a thick smattering of freckles across her nose and cheeks, which always darkened after weeks spent by the river at the back of her house. And I how could I forget those sky-blue eyes, blemished with honey-coloured rings that encircled her iris? Lastly, those legs. Long like a spider’s, and perhaps emblematic of her poisonous nature.

I also remember sitting in my bed as 10-year-old, arguing with my first, great love and best friend about the particular details of a phone conversation that I was now using as ammunition. We would always quarrel, the way lovers and best friends often do, and I would be the one to end up apologising. She would pout and cry no matter that she has been the one who had started it – or so I remember – and I would gingerly wrap my arms around her waist, her clammy skin sticking to me as I rested my face against the top of her scalp.

This time, she had promised me something, forgotten her pledge, and I was really giving her a piece of my mind. Or rather, a piece of my memory.

“You remember everything!” she cried, backed into a corner by recollection. And indeed, I did. I did remember everything. I could recall minute facts and intricate details. Entire conversations, sandwich fillings, feelings, sights and sounds. My father was afflicted with the same condition, an almost photographic-type memory, although we often remembered events very differently. Nevertheless, we managed to turn our affliction for remembering into a weapon: after all, knowledge is power.

If memory was a weapon I used against her, charisma and snake-like manipulation were hers. Of course, I remembered that I was always the one to apologise. As was customary, she would cry, and I would say I was sorry. Her crimes were forgiven in a storm of prepubescent mania. God help me.

Her enchanting powers of persuasion only grew stronger as she blossomed into full-blown nymphhood. One day she sat across me from a bed in our school's designated sick bay, her legs crossed and her eyes bright with secrets. We’d agreed to meet each other there at 3pm to spill about crushes, and go through the regular agenda set by teenage girls when due for an official Gossip Session.

She wanted to tell me something, but she was nervous. She didn’t get nervous. She was a teenage Spartan made flesh, snatching souls well before breakfast. What could have possibly caught her tongue?

She wrote a letter instead, scribbled in her scarcely legible handwriting, her juvenile hand almost discrediting the content of her confessions.

She wanted to kiss me. She’s had a threesome with another one of our friends and a boy from a different school. She wanted to try with me. She enjoyed it. She wanted me to know that is was OK if I didn’t want to.

I didn’t want to.

Now, dear reader, you're probably asking yourself: why, when faced with the prospect of lust fulfilled, did I instead choose to decline such an intoxicating offer?

The answer is simple. I wasn’t ready to handle excalibur. In removing her from the confines of my fantasies, and placing her in reality, I didn’t know how to completely honour her. If you live in the dark long enough, you don’t waltz into the sunshine emphatically, blossoming under the warmth. There is, of course, an initial rush of rapture, and then, a profound and unyielding sense to scamper back to familiar territory.

For myself, and as it still is today, every thing for me is either too much, or not enough.