A wonderful and thought-provoking piece of creative writing written by one of our Year 10 students on the ‘Exploring Identity’ Summer School course this year.
My white veil obscures my view with its harsh gauze-like filter and the wedding march begins its mocking chimes as I tread slowly, hopelessly towards what is to be my future. A tidal wave of everything that was, that could have been, floods my head.
We were just fourteen, so young, so naïve, so trusting of the world. When I think of her, I ache with the knowledge of what I have lost and the knowledge of what I had. She is hazy now, faint, glowing, golden, I hold her memory close: it warms me.
The harsh white light of the church burns my eyes and the sea of memories that are swirling round my head begin to overflow and start to form rivers from my eyes over my freshly made up cheeks.
I remember, the stars twinkled in the river, their soft glow rippling over the water. I had climbed out of my bedroom window, she was all I could think of: Lottie, Lottie, Lottie. I wanted to see her soft skin. I wanted to escape my stuffy terraced house. I wanted to feel quiet, to let my ringing ears rest from my father’s shouting about the mines. I knew it then; I wanted Lottie.
The stars still sparkled on the river, unchanged, as if my tornado of revelation remained unheard to them, which, of course, it did.
My ghostly pale legs dangled down over the river, my bare feet brushing the water, displacing the stars and watching as they contorted their sparkling image: flitting this way and that.
Some time passed and I sat, and I watched the stars in the river.
Then, as though she heard my silent call, I heard the soft shuffle of kid leather shoes on cobblestone. Her soft breaths made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up on end. The stars in the river watched, curiously. Lottie lowered herself down onto the edge of the water, her silk nightdress catching the moonlight so beautifully, like the midnight goddess that I knew she was.
I shrank into my handed down nightshirt and my heart, a cadged bird, fluttered around the cadge of my ribs: refusing to be still.
It’s a miracle that my trembling lips managed to form the question but eventually I asked, “Do you ever wonder how the stars got in the water, Lottie?”.
Lottie just smiled, her pearly teeth glinting in the night, her dark brown skin radiant.
She didn’t answer.
Instead, she raised a perfectly manicured, elegant hand to my cheek, intently and carefully tracing my freckled skin.
I step forwards again, my fathers grip tightening on my arm: a harsh, iron grip that keeps me on the path that makes my soul churn with remorse. This whole day is so, so wrong. A woman’s wedding day is supposed to be the happiest day of her life. The cold light of the room mocks me and thus, surrounded by what should be a safe haven, the house of God, I am dragged towards a life sentence… to an emptiness that would make me envy those in Hell. This life, shallow and cruel all dressed up behind the pretence of ‘love’ leaves me too empty to live and too weak to die.
The night made us bold: we were invincible. Its starry cloak concealed us from the world. All of our worries about what people might think had gone to bed with the rest of the city and were, then, safely out of sight and out of mind.
I remember, that night was warm; the heat of the day had not yet left the atmosphere.
The stars saw everything that night, from their viewpoints in the river and above, in the sky.
The streets were empty, but for Lottie and me.
But Lottie was so magnificent, so beautiful that she filled the night. Like a halo, her hair crowned her head, marking her out in a crowd: a goddess, a queen, a pharaoh. She was so soft, her body gentle against mine. Her wild eyes seemed to promise me the universe; they traced my face until they locked with my eyes.
I wonder how she saw me: a small girl, watery eyes, pale face, pointy bones. Did she see past that, did her wild eyes see past my weak exterior to my soul? Could she see everything I felt, everything I knew, everything I was?
Despite what I had been taught over and over, this didn’t feel wrong anymore, Lottie made me feel safe, secure, in control.
I wanted to tell her how I felt, how I wanted to kiss her and hold her but every time that I went to speak I could not force my lips to break the intense blanket of silence that had fallen over us.
Perhaps if I’d spoken then the subsequent events would never have occurred. We could have run away, saved ourselves. Perhaps, everything that was, would not have been.
Every night for the rest of that month we went and sat by the river: concealed by the night, overseen by the stars. Slowly, we grew bolder, the connection between us became more fierce, more intense, so undeniably real.
We were falling in love and our universes were colliding in a fiery, explosive, beautiful mess.
We would talk all night about the moon and stars or we would just let our lips express the emotions that our brains did not have words for: leaving them to remain unsaid a beautiful silence that spoke more than any words can.
I shake off the memory. I need to leave it here, where the universe was still beautiful, when the night sky was still light by stars, when I still believed that the universe was more good than bad.
Before our beautiful collision of universes spontaneously combusted, leaving me with the ashes of what was.
I gave Lottie all that I was, all that I would be, and all of that, all of me, burned out in our explosive love leaving me empty, all burned out inside.
The people around me now, the hand picked collection of relatives, who I am suppose to love, I hate. I loath them all. And Lottie, Lottie, the girl who gave me the universe to hold in my small hands, only to snatch it away, the girl who I should hate: I love. I still love her so much.
She took a part of me, on our first ever night by the river, in the silence that we shared, surrounded my stars: she took my heart. When she returned it to me, it was smashed, pieces were missing and I’ve been searching for those pieces that I lost with Lottie all my life. Here’s the truth about the stars we see: they probably died a long time ago and we don’t know it yet because of the speed of light. I now understand that our sky is full of glowing corpses and when we wish on a star we waste our breath because not even something as pure and magical as love can save your dreams in a society that has decided to hate everything that you are.
Written by Cecile, Year 10