Story by Leila Mekhdiyeva
Illustration by Mila Khan
It was the middle of summer. The sun was shining bright and making the weather too hot to be outside. Two young ladies walked into a bookstore, chatting about all those unimportant things that take so much space in young women’s lives. At least, that’s what one of the girls was thinking at that very moment. Her name was Mary. She was 19 years old, had beautiful brown eyes, long curly ginger hair and a critical mind that would always make her feel miserable. She was trying to understand more than the rest of her friends. She was overthinking every single situation in her head to see things more clear. It is what was making her seem too critical and judgmental in the eyes of Estelle, her friend with whom she came to the bookstore.
Estelle was two years older than Mary; she was turning 21 next month. And it was her birthday party that they were discussing when they walked into the bookstore few minutes earlier. Estelle was a green-eyed blond girl and was an absolute opposite of Mary. It was making their friendship look so weird from the outside, but the reason why these two were together was that they were school friends long before their personalities were fully developed. They met at arts school when Mary was five and Estelle was seven. They both were taking painting classes there, and at that time Mary was so excited to have a friend in the new place, who also seemed funnier than the rest of kids there.
Mary was absolutely in love with painting. She was a shy girl who could express herself fully through her art works – her paintings. She was very talented, passionate about art, a living in her own reality kind of girl. And she was loyal. Too loyal to see that after so many years of friendship, she and Estelle were too different to understand each other. For example, this very moment Mary was thinking about finding Pablo Neruda’s poetry book because that was the reason they had come to the bookstore in the first place. Estelle, on the other hand, was talking about Chris, the guy she fell in love with last month. Estelle was one of those girls who would fall in love every single month, believing that this time it is it – the real love. “I am just a hopeless romantic. What else can I say?” She was always saying.
“Finally!” Mary said with excitement in her voice, when she finally found Pablo Neruda’s poetry book.
“I know, right! I told him that I was always waiting for a guy like him,” said Estelle.
“What? Oh, no, I meant I finally found Pablo Neruda’s book.”
Mary looked at Estelle, at her long blond hair which was shining like the sun, and then her eyes, big green eyes, full of joy and delight. Mary always saw in Estelle that unique beauty that the rest couldn’t see. None of all those guys whom Estelle ever dated knew how lucky they were to have her. Mary’s thoughts were interrupted by Estelle’s voice.
“Haha, Mary, Mary. You never listen to me,” Estelle shook her head and said. “All right, what’s there?”
“It is the collection of his poems. Look, – she opened a random page and started reading the first four lines she saw there, – “…. I am keeping the name of a woman I barely knew locked up: it’s in a box and now and then I pick out the syllables that are rusted and creak like rickety pianos….” Mary read those lines with the special encouragement mixed with passion in her voice. Those lines were very special ones for Mary. She wondered how perfectly well they described what she felt, but could never say out loud.
“You still do that, don’t you?” Estelle looked at her with a smile on her face.
“Do what?” Mary was curious to know if Estelle knew something.
“You ask a certain question in your head, and then you open a random page and read the first sentence you see there. Ah, Mary, you are such a fatalist.”
“It is better than being a hopeless romantic,” she said out loud and immediately regretted that she did.
“Look, I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.”
“Hurt my feelings? What do you know about my feelings? You never listen to anything that I am saying.”
“Because I already know everything that you want to say, Estelle! It is always the same story only with different characters every single month. Stop being so stupid, damn it!” Mary was too angry.
“So you think I am stupid? I am stupid because real life interests me more than art world? I am stupid because you are the talented and smart one, is that how you think? Then why the hell do you even spend your precious time with me, miss Perfection?”
“Because I love you.”
And she wasn’t lying.