Lessons From a Free Spirit by Athena Velazquez

God wasn’t something I really believed in. Or well “He” wasn’t something that I have believed in. What was there to believe about an invisible being that no one has seen or heard about other than from stories and passed down traditions? In my mind he was merely something that people had in their minds to try to become better people, or have the want 
Lessons From a Free Spirit
Lessons From a Free Spirit by Athena Velazquez

of forgiveness for all the wrongs that they had done in this forsaken world. Others want peace to look forward to, and some want retribution against those who have “sinned” against them. Be it stealing something precious, or a murder, or well… worse. God to me was Santa Claus to adults. He is a person to believe in, but not for long because in this world there are terrible truths and beautifully disturbing lies. Santa Claus is a person who brings you happiness in the form of presents and such. Bringing smiles to little faces as they thought of a white and big bellied man who could travel the world in one night and bring them such grand things.

And those who were bad would not receive anything that was great, or grand because only those who were good little ones all year round could have a chance at an award for being so well-behaved. Santa was brought about so children could not cause any trouble and would later in life bring that good will into adulthood and become “good” people. God is like that. He was like that… before I had started to believe in him myself. God to me was a man to be believed in so people could stay in line. So they don’t stray and end up hurting others and become “bad” people. God was a figment to believe in so that people had a reason to be good. So that they would be rewarded for all the “good” they have done all their life. Their award being something so grand that anyone would die to receive such peace and tranquility and love that they never truly received in this life before the one after.

That’s why people believe in those things. Why people have religion. So that they could have the something great for having to go through such bad to get it. Or not even. It is for those who think that they deserve to be rewarded. But then again… there are those who don’t really care about where they end up. They believe with all their hearts and minds and they truly don’t expect anything in return because they love God and they just want to live life thanking him with gestures of generosity and such for giving them their lives, liberty, etc.. Melanie was like that. She was the type of person to have no care in the world. She cared about everyone and everything and cared more about that and this… and… other things (me) more than she could have ever cared about herself. Being the ever-present free spirit she was she had swept in like a raging storm of almost black, brown eyes, and light blonde hair that wasn’t necessarily well-kept, but it was always beautiful to me. Hair that blew in the wind like in those Disney movies.

Hair that was soft and sometimes too dry and brittle, or too oily, but it never mattered to me because she always had the most beautiful hair (most beautiful things) in my eyes. Her laugh was like church bells. Not soft, but loud, like really really loud. And that was okay because her laughs were melodies to my ears. They were deep and reverberated in my brain whenever I was within ear shot. The echoes of it staying as if I were in a cavern, or even a cave. I never knew what all that meant to me. Or, maybe I did know, but I never thought about it. I guess I wasn’t ready for such strong feeling and even stronger willingness to make commitments. Commitments that she probably didn’t even want. Or maybe she wasn’t ready either. I saw things in her eyes from time to time. Things that were never pointed at anything else, but me. She had lovely eyes that would always bore into me and made me feel that she could see all of my thoughts about her and see my soul. And maybe she could see all those things. Maybe that’s why she had all those emotions in her eyes that I had never really understood when we were younger.

When I was younger. She really isn’t aging much anymore. Her eyes held adoration. Yeah that was it. And things that went beyond that like love, lust, affection, and even anger and boiling rage at one point. I was a very problematic child who always angered everyone, even the people (Melanie) I cared about most. But what was I supposed to do? I was young and dumb like anyone else. I was trouble because I forced myself into society like that. I always had been a kind of ghost. Someone who sits in the shadows of others and well it got to the point that it enraged me. So I took things into my own hands and made a name for myself. I didn’t care that it was a bad name and it kept people from picking on me, the nobody, and it kept me seen. I hated not being seen. Everyone always ignored me in my family. And then when they got fed up with me being nothing, but a nobody, waste of air; they shipped me off to an orphanage. Other families that I could never connect with, or ones that were down right mean were always brushing past me as if I were invisible. I never understood why and it made me angry and hate them.

It made me hate myself. So much. And what was a kid to do? So I picked myself up from where everyone always left me behind and became someone who was strong and didn’t take crap from anyone. I got detention a lot and I was in trouble with the families, and society, and the law (I tended to vandalize) a lot. The time that she stared at me with rage in her eyes was when I had beat the crap out of her boyfriend. He had called her stupid and all I could see was red. After I was pulled off him I carried Melanie off to some private place and I kissed her. I kissed her hard. Hard enough to bruise her mouth and make me hungry for more. She had looked at me with fire in her eyes because she knew that I knew what that kiss was meant to be. It was a kiss to dominate and show who she belonged to. She didn’t belong to him, someone who had the audacity to say such things, especially in front of me. She belonged to me because I found her bright black (if black can even be call that) eyes and her wind-swept blonde hair first.

She was mine from the beginning. She hated being thought of as a possession though. She hated it when anyone thought of her as such, or acted like she was property and was owned. And in my sick unforgiving mind back then I actually did think exactly that. So she smacked me and it left my face stinging, but she hadn’t left me. Her dad saw her as property to control; as a servant, a charity case. She hated it; she hated him, but she never hated me. I gave her my apologies and she simply stated back, “we are friends with no feelings for each other. What is there to be mad about you defending me?” She had ignored the part of me kissing her entirely. But she seemed so sad and repressed about it.

Maybe that was when I should have finally figured out that maybe, just maybe, she was afraid of what we could be. Sure she was a free spirit, but she was also damaged and had hate for herself so strong that it could make anyone reel back from the force. And I was damaged too in my own way. And damaged people can’t be together. Only a damaged person could have someone good so that they could have a chance at being fixed and have the chance to be loved.

What better way to be fixed than by someone who wasn’t in need of being fixed themselves. But maybe I should have come to the conclusion that broken people could fix each other. Maybe I wouldn’t be missing her so much. Maybe she wouldn’t be staying young forever. So we went back to how we usually were and never mentioned the kiss, but crap maybe we should have. But it’s too late now for maybe's. It was always too late. She broke it off with the shit face though, so obviously I had somehow got through to her before that kiss when I told her that she deserved better than that grade A son of a bitch. I suppose that was one of the things that she finally believed. She finally believed what I told her. I think sometimes though that she only did it to please me and keep me happy. She was always one to keep others happy and was always one to put others before herself. Not like she could have had really believed me though.

I was a liar after all, but then again I would never lie to her about anything like that. Not that she knew that though. But when she found herself a new significant other a while after, I couldn’t find it in myself to just sit there as she told me in her bedroom with the door locked, so her father couldn’t come in. I grabbed her face in my hands and kissed her hard again. I kiss filled with nothing more than dominance. There was no love in it, or any amount of lust. And now that I think about it maybe that’s why she never reciprocated my feelings, or really why she hid them behind her back… away from me. I was toxic and demanding at times. In her eyes I could have never loved her like she did me. But she kissed me back.

She held my shirt tight in her fists and refused to let go. She pulled away when she realized that I had my hands up her shirt (I didn’t even remember doing anything like that) and my shirt had somehow magically became unbuttoned and was hanging at the bend of my elbows because I didn’t want to risk losing contact with her. She pushed me away farther with sad eyes down cast and I easily relented. Then she started crying. Bawling her eyes out because she just cheated on her new significant other with her non religions best friend of all things. I had buttoned my shirt and moved to leave. To hide my face and my guilt away from her, but she pulled me down and sobbed into my arms. I didn’t know the feeling back then all too well, but I was lovesick and heartbroken that she didn’t return my feelings. But she still was unfair with everything and decided that I was the best comfort for her. I guess I always was the best comfort for her.

In the coming months we never talked about her significant other and she had never told her ex boyfriend about me. Probably for the best not only because of the reputation I had, but because I was the best friend. The best friend who might have had feelings for the girl. That definitely wasn’t a good thing. She ended up breaking up with them too. They were really nice though. I could tell from the way she talked about them and from the way they treated and looked at her when I watched from afar. The breakup was hard on her. She didn’t want to hurt anyone else’s feelings. She was tired and she was hurting because she just couldn’t understand why she couldn't have the same feelings for them as they did for her. Or maybe she did know. I know for a fact that she did know because she was always more in touch with her feelings than I ever was.

She knew back then that she could only love me and no one else no matter how hard she tried. I don’t understand how she could have ever loved me though. I was a person without God, or happiness, or care, or patience, or anything. I was a person who sinned and raged and broke laws. I was always kind and gentle with her though. Or at least kind and gentle for me. Maybe that’s why she loved me. Because in the end behind the callous shell and dominating, demanding kisses, and over all sick young mindedness, she saw the other version of me that wanted soft kisses instead of hurting ones that bruised her mouth. She saw the version of me that cared for her like I cared for no one else. The version of me that was soft and gentle for only her.

I knew in the back of my subconscious that she saw those things. How could she not when she had the ability to stare into my soul. Maybe that’s why I always listened to her talk about God and went to Church with her. To make up for my coldheartedness and to be there for her. To show her that yes she was right when she saw what the wall had covered up for so long. And that I was sorry for never acting on those feelings when I really really should have. I suppose that is why I go to Church now. Because of all of my sins and my regrets and to feel that part of her that always filled her to the brim. She was a reincarnated angel from heaven no doubt about it and maybe that’s why she was such a great believer. Maybe that is how she got me to believe too. She got me to open up to God and to love him just as she did. Because how could I not believe in God when there was a constant angel in my life that was sent down to earth by him? That she was a constant reminder that, “yeah I guess there is a Heaven,” and I wanted to be there with her. I wanted (I do want) to know that love that she always talked about.

I wanted to know the peace that she always seemed to have in her eyes when she thought of Him. I wanted to be with her, so I fixed myself with her help. I really started going to Church, and I really started to read, and I really started to believe. I never had a chance to fix her though. She was always helping me, and I was always admiring her for it that I never thought about it when I should have. I should have also paid more attention to her overall appearance than her breath stealing eyes and hair. Then I would have noticed that she was looking paler than before. She was skinnier too and started to have a forced smile. And when I did finally realize it wasn’t that I was too late to do anything, but a while did go by and next thing I knew I only had a few months with her. I only found out about it because I had overheard a conversation she had on the phone with someone. She had cancer. Cancer, of all the fucking things that anyone could have, she just had to fucking have it. I confronted her about it and she broke down into my chest. Her father had refused to get treatment for her because it was too costly.

I guess he didn’t want to waste money on her. Though in the end he cried and bawled like a newborn baby when she was being lowered. So maybe he did love her in his own twisted way after all. The doctor had told them that without treatment she would die in the next few months. Because the cancer was fast acting. It consumed her and destroyed her body from the inside out. She had stage four cancer to be exact. So no matter how much it would hurt me in the end I made the decision to confess my feelings to her and treat her like I always should have knowing how destroyed I would be when it was all over. I told her and she cried even harder than before, but that time she had tried to get away. To pry my hands off her and escape me and my feelings; my confession of love. She gave in though and when she was done crying enough where she could breathe properly I kissed her.

I kissed her gently with love on my lips and in my eyes when I looked at her after. She cried again and sobbed as she leaned in and kissed my mouth again. She was the one who bruised my lips that time and I really didn’t care. I treated her with all the care that my body could give and I helped her when she vomited, I had to force her to eat because she had no appetite whatsoever (she herself knew that it had to be done though), I held her when she was in pain, and I kissed her lips when she cried softly and I was the only one there to comfort her. I was her comfort then and had always been her comfort. I never had wanted to go farther with her, or well I did, I mean I really very much did, but I didn’t. I didn’t want to hurt her because I would have hated myself if I did that. One day she insisted though. She insisted and begged when my foster parents weren’t going to be home for the entire weekend.

So I did, I gave her the wish she begged for. To not take, but receive the one thing that meant the most to anyone. I received it with gratitude and love and I gave her the thing that had meant most to me as well. She finally had professed her love for me that day. Not because of being in the heat of the moment, or anything. But because she finally had the courage and finality to do so. I loved her more for that. I love her more for that. Days passed on by with her in my arms. I never had such fantastic, yet so very tragic days in my entire life. I don’t think I ever will relive something like what we shared with anyone else. Then finally without my knowledge she left. She was in my arms and she left me. She told me an hour before that she wanted to be in my arms and that it was time for goodbye. I thought she was joking. I hoped with all my might and prayed to God that she was joking and it wasn’t goodbye. But it was and minutes before she passed she handed me an envelope thick with multitudes of papers crammed within.

Then she closed her eyes and breathed once and tightened her hold on me one last time before it became loose and her chest had no longer risen. I cried that day. I never cried before that. I had never really cried in my life except for when I was baby and a toddler. I cried harder than the days I skinned my knees. I cried harder than I had ever cried before. I don’t think I will ever cry like that again. My foster parents had heard me and my heart wrenching cries of agony. They came storming in and immediately froze in the doorway. My foster-father dragged me away when the funeral people, or whoever, came and took her away to the morgue. My foster parents held me and I felt safe. Not the safe that Melanie always made me feel, but still safe. They were the only ones to stick around too. Maybe it was because of Melanie keeping me out of too much trouble. Or maybe they actually had seen me and didn’t just brush me off.

In fact they did see me and I saw them. And the only reason I think I saw (still do see) them was (is) because of Melanie. So weeks later they lowered her down and I did not cry like her father and family had done. I had already used up all my tears when I threw myself over her open casket during the funeral. My father had to drag me away then too. And now here I am in front her grave just lying there in the grass looking up at the sky. Talking to her about how I have been and the good I have finally been doing in my life. I tell her about how her father was doing (she would have wanted to know because despite hating him she still had cared for him so much in her heart). And I don’t just see God as just being a figment anymore. I know his love because I felt his love through Melanie. I don’t really know if I’m a good person, but I try to be. I really really try to be for Melanie, my family, myself. I want to be up there in Heaven with her.

I don’t want to be anywhere else. And maybe that’s why she was sent to me. She was the angel that made a nonreligious, and unloving person believe in something I had never believed in my entire life. So now I suppose I might just have the chance to be in Heaven with her when my time is finally up. I know for a fact I will never find someone like her again and I know that I will never regret the time I was with her. God wasn’t something I really believed in. Not when I was young and stupid. But I definitely believe in Him now all because of a free spirit I once knew named Melanie.

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