Clutched in her slender hands was a little black book that was bursting at its seams. The silver rings on her fingers gleamed each time they caught the light as she flipped through the pages. To anyone else, it was just a book, its pages filled with sprawling and sometimes illegible writing, bold and faint strokes of drawings--and doodles. Doodles of squares, sometimes running down the length of the curling pages, sometimes making up random shapes in odd places between the words and drawings. But to her, it was a vessel that contained a part of her that she kept private: the part of her that went to places, imagined, and created. The part of her that truly loved, felt and desired.
A wispy breath was released. Even though she had penned every line, drawn every stroke, she felt like it was someone else's words and drawings that she was seeing for the first time. It was her Pandora's box. And each time she opened it, she felt a secret rush of exhilaration, sometimes tainted with guilt--guilt at the longing for something. . . more.
Guilt seeped into her again even as she thought the thought. It must be wrong of her to want something more than the wonderful life she had with Paul. The happiness that they had shared for the past three years since they had gotten together, the life that they had built together from scratch. . . The walls of the apartment that they had decorated together a mere year ago when they had made the decision to live together closed in on her. She felt her chest constrict--the pain felt so real, like a rope was tightening around her upper body, physically restricting her ability to breathe.
Since when did she start feeling like this? Or had she learnt how to hide this part of her so well that she actually managed to fool herself into thinking that she hadn't always felt like this?
It was that night, she was sure. As much as she tried to block her mind from the memories, the images came into her mind unbidden. It was her. It was Paris.
The page turned again, revealing yet another drawing, yet another random line of thought. She found it hard to believe that she had written those words, wanted those dreams. And that yearning. . . She had forgotten how it felt to want something so badly. Where had that little girl disappeared to all this time? How did her life settle into a routine that required no thinking?
Her eyes glazed as her mind wandered.
They were having a few drinks celebrating someone's birthday. It had been so long since she had the inclination and the energy to socialize. Her appearance had surprised a few, but everyone was happy to see her, and they welcomed her into the folds of their company eagerly, like the father welcomed his prodigal son. She soaked up their smiles and warmth gladly, and met her eyes to the friendly faces, some of which she hadn't seen before. And there she was. Paris.
Her eyes were blue. Blue, like the very centre of flame. They contrasted with her dark hair that framed her face. Their eyes lingered on each other. Had she known then, when she wondered to herself why a face that she was certain she had never seen before had seemed so familiar to her?
"Are you seeing anyone?"
The question was commonplace. Yet, she had been sure that it was purposeful, coming from Paris. She hesitated a split second and someone else answered for her.
"You've been seeing Paul a long time now, haven't you, Lisa?"
She nodded mutely with a smile that didn't reached her eyes. She found her discomfort odd; she had always been proud to acknowledge her relationship with Paul. He was her best friend and a wonderful partner. Was that disappointment she saw on Paris' face before it was turned from her? Why did that make her feel hopeful?
Paris was quick and her wit was charming. Her laugh was infectious and her eyes danced with mischief when she spoke. She found herself drawn towards the woman like she had never been drawn to anyone before. Not even Paul, she thought guiltily.
And when the night ended, she was reluctant to leave. Even though her eyelids were heavy, she found herself wishing for another minute in Paris' company.
"Would you like to meet up again? For coffee, perhaps? I enjoyed your company."
"Yes. Yes, I'd like that."
Being with Paris made her remember. Being with Paris made her wish. Suddenly, she was a child again, dreaming of faraway lands, possibilities and adventures. She ran a finger over the textured paper, loving the feel of the indentation that the strokes made on it. The dragon on the page seemed to move. Its tail swished and its wings flapped. She touched her finger to the fire that the creature breathed out, almost certain that it would sear her flesh.
She turned another page and her eyes wandered from the book again, remembering.
The way Paris' lips felt on hers. . . It made her believe in magic again. She felt her heartrate quicken at the memory. It was odd, having a memory of a feel. Images appeared in her mind's eye and she picked up a pen impulsively, suddenly afraid that she would lose the inspiration if she left it for another second longer. A volcano came to being under her pen. The drawing was crude--she was rusty with the lack of practice--but beautiful in its own way: it was erupting, spilling hot lava from its depths that scalded everything in its path.
When the drawing was complete, she dropped the pen, allowing her eyes to caress the mental image made true by ink and paper. Paris made her insides feel like molten fire. It ran through her veins, hot and burning; she didn't think herself possible of feeling that way. The feeling fought to burst from within her. She couldn't deny it any longer.
She was in love, for the first time. She was in love, with a woman.