PROBABILITY, a love story
Jay Crisostomo IV
Once there was a boy. He was short, dark skinned. His family was poor. He was not intelligent. In fact, nothing was special about the boy. He was just that: a boy. Instead of spending his time in books or sports, he chose not to excel in anything, instead he spent his time in the jungle. In the jungle, the boy was free to do what he wanted. His mom would not be present to sigh nor his teachers to shake their heads nor his friends who would tsk tsk as they ran away laughing. Beneath the endless tropical canopy, he was free. He could sleep, eat, hunt, run, scream, but most of the time he just slept and dreamt. He dreamt of faraway places and distant futures with men flying on metal birds or traveling to the moon and back. He dreamt of people talking through tiles that lit up when you touched it. He dreamt of what would be, but more importantly what could be. And this was how he first met the princess.
The princess was, in all meanings of the word, beautiful. Her eyes held the glimmer of diamonds. Her skin was the porcelain brown of imported china. Her lips were but the plumpest and reddest strawberry cut in two. But more than her looks, her beauty ran deep down to her soul. She was known in the city as the pardoner of crimes, the kisser of tears, the lover of the unloved. At least that’s what the boy heard from city gossip. He has never met the princess, his one true love, until he dreamt of her that one day in the jungle.
He met her through a cascade of falling gem stones, naked, as if bathing and feeding from the lesser beautiful things. The girl’s shape aroused some passion with in the boy, a gentle stirring of the heart and a monstrous heaving of the flesh. He was dumbfounded, well he was dumb to begin with, but dumb as he was, he knew he must hold her, seize her. After that he did not know what would follow. So in dreamland, he put his hand through the curtain of gems only to be cut. His skin gave way easily so he retracted his arm and kissed his wound. He was afraid because he knew what he must do. His soul trembled because he knew he must be cut infinitely in order to reach his destination. He was not a brave boy, as said earlier, he was nothing at all. But he steeled himself and took a step forward letting the cloth of his shirt to be ripped and eventually his flesh and then his bones. Every step was a new suffering, a new heart break, but all effort was not enough, the image of the princess receded as he approached. But nothing could have stopped him, let him be reduced to a bloody pulp but he would have never turned back. The thing with dreams though is you always wake up.
And wake up he did. He woke up to the most astonishing of miracles, a truth stranger and more wonderful than his dreamscape. The princess was in sight. She sat upon a huge palanquin held by an elephant. A retinue of guards was with her. What must he do, his mind raced. Was action only possible in dreams? No. The boy sat trembling in a din of emotion. He was elated, sure. But the feeling that grasped his heart was that of shame. He, naked, dirty, his bones showed through his skin. Gaunt, his face felt to his hands. A stench, his nose reacted to his hand palming his cheek. Oh, this is why an ant should never look up to see the eagle, the sky, the sun. He might fall in love. And in love he was, although of course, love had a different name at that time.
Slowly, cautiously, he stalked the princess, always afraid that a guard might see him and mistake him for a thief. Always afraid, that the princess will see him and mistake him for some savage beast. But fear gave way to thrill and thrill gave way to awe. She was as he imagined her, as he dreamed her. Surely, that meant something, didn’t it? Surely that showed some connection between their souls. In the boy’s head, he mused that maybe, just maybe, the princess has already seen him to in a dream. But he would not let himself fall to such naivete. A princess would never fall in love with a street rat.
The entourage stopped by the lake in the center of the jungle. The elephant was freed from his burden and drank from the water.
This was the boy’s spot, the boy’s private spot. How many times has he jumped from the old willow tree in its centre? How many times has he tried and failed to keep hold on the floor beneath the water for more than a thousand and one seconds? He felt like he now truly shared something with the princess. It was an awesome thing for him to realize that such beauty would have anything in common with a vagabond. During that internal monologue, did the guards leave the princess. The boy did not even have a chance to wonder why.
She was taking off her clothes. First the veil that hid her lips, those plump strawberry lips. Then the cloth from her torso that revealed the young swell of breasts and those chocolate tips that crowned the small hills. He tried to shy away his eyes, but being a boy he could of course not. What came next was difficult for the boy to look at, not because he did not want to look but because he wanted to do more than looking.
Water satiates all fire. That is false. When the princess put her toes to the lake to test its temperature, the boy felt a heat in his cheeks that could melt stone. When the rest of her body followed into the water, a monster groaned from inside the boy. Reveal yourself, it said. Take her now, she is alone. Take her now. It was a feat of unprecedented self-control that held the boy back behind the bushes.
He let himself be the ripples of water. Imagined the lake to himself, embracing the whole, seeping into private corners. In his mind, he kissed her gently as the water does. Now ready to die, he let himself drown within himself. He was not just the water anymore but also the ground, the earth, the sky, he was the universe, and within him was his most precious heart, swimming within a lake.
The princess at that time went to the willow tree in the very centre of the lake. It stood on a small island, rooted in an almost impossible position. It bent down as if a wise old sage looking at his reflection in the water. A leaf was slowly falling down and the princess reached up her hands to catch it. A beautiful portrait. But beauty rarely lasts. Once a rose is cut from its stem, it starts to wither and will eventually die.
A hiss passed from between the boy’s feet. It was a snake, a viper. It slithered its way to its prey, innocently standing in the middle of the lake. The boy had no time to think. He had no time to be the coward that he was. Instantly he jumped into action running to the snake when there was still space to run and finally plunging into the lake itself. He willed himself to be fast, he willed himself to be strong. He half-remembered his dream. he must be cut infinitely before he reaches his destination. It might have been luck or it might have been the strange strength love offers to its victims, but the boy caught the snake in the end. The snake bit him in the neck, seeping poison and death to the carotid artery. In a last ditch of life, he pulled at the snake and ripped it into two. It took almost no time at all for the boy to float numb on the water. The last thing he saw when finally his body gave out was the princess kissing the leaf.
In the black hold of death, he remembered. He must be cut infinite times before he reaches his destination.
The boy opened his eyes again to the world, a blinding light kept his eyes pinched to a close. He was crying but he did not know why. He was so very small, smaller than he was before but he did not know why. Once more he was a baby but he did not know why. He looked through his little fingers, surveying his surroundings, and everything was a mystery. Who are these people he mused, what are they wearing, where am I? He knew nothing but he was still alive, and that he must find her…
To be continued…