She splashes running water on her face. How lucky is she, how happy is she, to be so in love. She can’t wipe that smile off her face, she’s glowing inside and out and she can feel it- she loves it. This is the first time in her life she’s felt pure happiness, and she tells herself that nobody can take that away from her. Bria is the best thing to happen to her, and she never wants to let her go.

They always told her that she should aspire to marriage. She could study first, sure, she was smart anyway, but at the end of the day it was common knowledge that a woman gets married to a man and that’s when her life would start. That’s when you experience true adulthood, and that’s when you realy live (life as planned by a higher power). Deities across all books seem to agree with this. And indubitably, she was one of them; the people of the book.

Bria and her talk about almost everything, music, books, love, hate, fear, death. Every now and then they venture to touchy topics, and they try to plough through them. Slowly but surely. One day they will have the courage to face their fears, to speak of the unavoidable. They know they cannot run forever, nothing will be settled if they remain in denial. She knows she cannot hide indefinitely, she doesn’t want to deprive herself of the truth, she doesn’t want to set aside a part of herself to impulsively embrace another. She juggles the two sections of her heart, for now she succeeds but her luck will run out soon.

Bria kisses her. She smiles.

She didn’t hate her people. But she knew her people were on the track to hating her, whether they knew it or not. It ached her soul. Every time they took a hit, parts of her chipped off. She lost her front slowly. Her heart started to erode. Her mind was tired. She was present but that was just smoke and mirrors. She knew the time would come when people would start to question her. She loves these people. These people think they love her but really they don’t. She wondered if she was a criminal, or if hate was more criminal than love.

Bria and her hold hands as they walk around town. It’s taken some time before they decided to be more of themselves in public. Their palms are sweaty; pulses echo each other as the warm hands remain entwined. Nervous smiles and laughter break out, a comfort within discomfort. Maybe they won’t do this again. She tells Bria she loves her. She means it.

Indeed, the day has arrived. She has begun working. She is, year by year, becoming increasingly infertile. Her mother reminds her of this. It doesn’t help that the men are getting older and are being married off one by one. “Marry out of love,” her mother says. “Marriage solves all problems, just find the first relatively decent single man,” an endless loop of contradictions. As expected from ingrained ideals.

She lay on Bria’s lap one day. They spoke of overlapping realities, interlaced eternities. The rings of infinity were cozy enough to make a life in, they were rings shaped like her and Bria. Their pasts, presents and futures lay on a single point, existing in a heart-shaped spot somewhere in the universe. They didn’t know much about science but they believed in crazy chemistry and they were hopeless romantics that way.

Sometimes she wishes she could be like them. She wishes she could stop thinking, to just accept the software being installed. No questions asked. No curiosity. No reasoning. No respect for logic. Throw your ideals out the window. This life isn’t about you. Maybe she needs to replace her brain with a preset one. No fuss. No mess. Clean life, you live and die the same. Wouldn’t that have been simpler.

They discussed civil marriages. Wedding dresses. Maybe even smart casual because they didn’t see a need for the ostentatious. She cut out outfits from magazines. She loved creating a lookbook of their wedding. Flip through the pages and catch them in Bali, a beach wedding, or a surfer wedding (imagine that). Catch them on the Swiss alps. Catch them in Dubai, in the liberating solitude of the desert. Catch them signing their official documents in America, anywhere in America! These alternate realities made them smile. It took away reality for a while. She returned to her spot on Bria’s body, placed herself in Bria’s arms, a place she felt she was made for. A place she was born to be in. A place she was happy. A place void of hate and judgment. A forgiving cradle, somewhere she received random kisses scattered through the night. “I love you,” Bria said. She meant it.

Her people would rather she slit her wrists, purge the sweet roses she keeps inside, succumb to a bitter life. They want her to be divorced from happiness. Once you liberate yourself, you don’t deserve happiness anymore. Chain her down, sell her off, strip her of her clothes for the lawfully wed man. Give her a wig, then cover her up, shun her from the eyes of the world. Don’t even stop to think. Just do it. She doesn’t know what’s right or wrong anymore. She puts her hands out for a slap on her slits. The piercing pain will remind her of what’s true and what’s right. “We love you,” they chanted as they shipped her off in a wooden box. Throw away your books, replace that mass of thought with this. You were never right. Off to sea. Maybe you’ll be forgiven by the end of your journey.

She stares into the darkness of her wooden jail. The vessel bobs up and down in the water. Her head drops. “Repent.”


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