She entered into my life, flooding every crevice of the earth with a warm orange glow, not as a woman, but as a soul – a soul that resonated deeply with mine. She inhabited a body of a girl, with dark, smooth skin, cheeks glittering with freckles, thick, long lashes that would cast shadows on her face during the sunset hours. She was heavenly, dazzling the public, transfusing goodness from her very self to anyone that would cross paths with her. We were in love, though she never suggested that we were two halves of one ethereal unit – instead, she welcomed the idea that I was already whole and she was still happy to exist within my life, to tighten the seams of the tapestry that was my wholeness, ensuring that I wouldn’t whither apart.
When I held her hand, there was nothing but innocence. Never a malicious intent. When her hands gently swept across my cheeks, rough and dotted with craters, and our lips touched, it was just a simple show of affection for each other. When we would murmur ‘I love you’ to each other, it was never a sign of rebellion against society, it was never us trying to promote evil deeds to other innocent children – we were just two people in love. Perhaps physically, we were two girls but there was something deeper than that, something more intrinsic, something battered into the very cosmos that suggested that our love existed beyond something so surface-level than our gender: something that the universe just wasn’t ready for.
Out in the public where our shadows manifested across the concrete, to us, they reflected the innocence of first love, clumsy and awkward the way teenagers are. The shadows, stripped to the core, were ultimately sinless and most of all, incorrupt. Yet for the people around us who could never understand, our shadows morphed into monstrous beings, wicked and malevolent, starving for innocent, uncontaminated souls – our separate beings as two girls amalgamated and we became impure, ungodly, corrupt. We became dangers to society. We became the faces of the unwanted, the discarded, the defective.
At first, the words from disgusted strangers would crawl across our bodies like roaches, and it was easy to just flick them off because there were so little of them – however as time slipped by and gossip spread, the roaches swarmed, and it became harder than just simply swatting them away.
“What are you girls doing, touching each other like that?”
“Have you girls no shame? There are kids around!”
“You’re both girls, this is disgusting.”
“You’re my daughter, how could you? I expected better.”
It became too much. The glares, the sneers, the insults, the remarks, the guilt that repelled our hands from intertwining, from our gazes ever meeting, from us even talking.
As a last resort, we only met when the light could not discover us, when we were sure the roaches couldn’t find us, rip the bones from our bodies, dismantle the so-called monster before it could even form. Even when it had been drilled right into my very skull that what we were doing was immoral and disgusting, I was still so magnetised. I was still so drawn to her, to the gentle lilt of her voice, to the way she carried herself with grace, and the way her gaze wrapped you like a warm quilt. As time went on, the roaches eventually crawled away, slowly, but surely. I had a seat at a dining table once more and my mother started looking me in the eyes. My father’s familiar arms wrapped around me tightly, and he chuckled, telling me he was grateful that it really was just a phase, after all.
I should’ve felt happy. I should’ve been glad I was welcomed in the family once more, that my friends let me have a seat at their table again, that people didn’t act as if looking at me would turn them to stone, that I could still love my girlfriend, even if it was in secret. The guilt for loving another woman had receded, but another guilt would soon become host.
For a few hours each week, we would meet within the crevices of a sea of trees, our initials carved into wood where no one could violently scratch out, where our souls could escape our bodies and become one, freely. We bathed freely in the light that did not shine for us, we loved on soils that did not want us, we breathed in a world that did not want to share the same oxygen as us. We could revel in the innocence of our love, the way we touched, the way we showed affection, the way just how perfect we were for each other.
But too soon everyday, the warm glory of the sunset would melt into a Prussian blue, concluding the end of our reunion and our temporary innocence. Every night, I would have to come to terms that there was no life in that body, no, not anymore, and I’d gently lie her down on the bed of dirt and autumn leaves, grace her cheek with a soft kiss, and leave her be.
Every night, I would sweep the few roaches away from her stomach, where the rotting wound continued to fester on her delicate skin, and cover that ugliness with a blanket.
Every night, I would find myself drowning in another guilt. Guilt. I had lied to myself like this, pretending that I cared about the gender of the body that kind, loving souls would inhabit. Guilt. I let those roaches infest us, drive us away in public, force our shadows apart. Guilt. I waited for the roaches to dissipate rather than stomping them out. Guilt. I happily let myself be rejected because I found beauty in the form of someone else who had the same body as I.
She wouldn’t have committed suicide had I been more brave. She wouldn’t have driven that knife into her body if I hadn’t pretended to be straight. She wouldn’t have even touched that knife if I were honest about my true feelings.
Every night, I would let the guilt eat me away as I reminded myself that this time, I was the roach. I was the roach that made her drive the knife into her stomach. I was the roach that let the blood spill out her body, let her beautiful golden skin lose its shimmer.
I was the roach that murdered my soulmate.