Exactly seven thirty in the morning as early as it is, I’m already outside Perita’s bar. I had to convince myself to do not arrive too soon. I’m so anxious to see Juls again that I could've slept on my car, outside her place, just to make time pass ‘faster’. However, reluctantly I went home last night to fail again in the simple task of sleeping. This time, it wasn’t due to nightmares or bad thoughts, but because I was unable to stop thinking about Juliana and the way she kissed me.
Juls walks towards the car and my heart speeds in excitement. I haven’t felt like this for so long, I almost forgot how good is this sensation of being in ecstasy just for seeing her. ‘God, that walking’. She has a unique way to move… I don't know how to explain, it’s so hypnotic to watch how her hips wiggle. I try not to stare, but it’s quite impossible. Juls smiles at me on her way, I smile back trying my best to keep myself steady and don’t run to her arms.
“Buenos días, como estas?”
We ‘dance’ in front of one another indecisively trying to choose the best manner to greet – ‘should I kiss her, give her a hug, or can I inhale the sweet smell of your neck?’ I pull her into a quick hug and then kiss her cheek.
“I’m better now! Y tu?” I ask.
“Tambien. Better now…” she answers with that corner smile that takes me off the tracks every time.
We get into the car and then we head to our favorite bakery for breakfast. I thought about taking Juls there because maybe it could help to bring up some of her memories, considering that we used to go to that place quite often. When we arrive, I’m the one to have some memory flashes instead. The first time we’ve been here together we confessed being in love with one another, and the last time I’ve been here, I heard about the news of her ‘accident’ and I haven’t returned since. I swallow my emotions to make sure that Juls doesn’t notice my discomfort. We’re here because of her and it's not about me, so I’ll do everything I possibly can to help her to heal even if it means that I must ignore my own pain.
We sit by the window, our favorite table; she seems to be analyzing the place, passing her eyes through each and every detail. Suddenly, her eyes find my gaze. I feel ashamed for being caught staring at her, but she holds my hand and softly smiles at me. ‘Is the oxygen lacking in this environment or what?’ I think to myself while trying to push some air into my desperate lungs.
“Gracias” After long minutes of silence, she breaks the ice.
“For what Juls?” I rub my thumb on her fingers gently, the little contact provokes so many sensations trough my whole body that it’s almost maddening. I can feel some hesitation in her eyes as if she is looking for the exact words to say.
“For doing this”. She moves her free hand pointing her index finger at her and then at me to elucidate what she meant. “I know it must not be easy for you to pretend that all of the sudden everything is fine between us … and even so, you still here with this beautiful smile on your lips supporting me”.
I can see tears forming in her eyes. Juls passes her hand on her neck, as she would always do when nervous, bits her bottom lip while looking down. I reach her chin to lift her head, then she looks at me and I can barely take it. My thumb finds her dimple and I caress it slowly, trying to show her through my gesture that all the affection I have in my being belongs to her.
“You’re right. It’s no easy to pretend that things are all fixed instantly, because they aren’t yet. But, having you alive here in front of me, after thinking you were dead… that’s more than ok for now, isn’t it?” I whisper the words to her, very close to her mouth. My heart is telling me to kiss her, but my brain is advising me to not to.
She takes my hand and places a soft and wet kiss on my palm, I shiver head to toe. I naturally lean my body, and our foreheads meet. Juls passes her fingers through my hair and I move my nose against hers. Our lips are so close, the heat of her breathing on my skin. We pull apart when our order arrives at the table. Enjoying our coffees and our pastries - mine strawberry cake, hers lemon pie, we just keep looking at each other cautiously.
In an abrupt movement, I see her fork coming towards my plate to steal a piece of my cake. “Juuuls!” I protest in awe, not only because she did that, but especially for this being something I used to do, just to annoy her. I freeze my body waiting for some logical explanation, but she looks embarrassed and confused.
“Perdon, I don’t know why I did that!” She says while returning the tiny piece she had stolen. I can’t hold the guffaw that forms on my throat. Her cheeks are red as a cherry wine.
“You don’t know why you did that, hum?”
“No. It was something we used to do, wasn’t it” She asks me already guessing the answer. I just nod at her and she lowers her head in frustration. I feel so sorry for this situation of lack of memory, but she’s alive and that is what matters the most now.
“Juls, it’s ok, give yourself some time to adjust. I know how hard you can be on yourself…” She smiles again and I melt for the hundredth time in less than one hour.
“Why do you think I did that?” She has a curious look on her face, so genuine and so freaking sexy.
“Well…” I let a small laugh unintentionally escape my throat. “One day we were… we were here and I stole your pie and ate most of it for pure fun, but you got so annoyed at me that I had to redeem myself somehow… and for that I ‘gave’ my body to you that night as an apology. And, hmm... loving each other in bed you called me ‘postrecito’. It was funny, but also very excitant for me to hear you whispering that in my ears. Since then, you used to call me that way in our intimacies…”
I try not to stare, but she is biting her nails and those brown eyes are so focused on me. Santo Díos bendito, I miss her so much. Juls doesn’t say anything, I can tell she’s struggling as well.
“Come on, do you want to go somewhere? Anything that you could think about and that seems like a memory for you?” I must be the strong person right now, and I try to change the subject before I lose my sanity and jump on her.
“There is… hmm, I don’t know if it’s a thing… Yo.. hmm, I ended up going to a park every afternoon after my morning searches. It was involuntary. I walked through the city but I always felt like I had to go there, for a reason that I don’t exactly know…”
I’m sure my eyes are very dilated, and not only because the arousal from seconds ago. It’s impressive how she keeps recreating old habits, even though she’s lacking memories. Juls was absolutely right, it won’t be easy for me, at all. My brain is malfunctioning after hearing her talking about the park… our park. Well, I must answer something, so…
“I think I know what you’re talking about. Vamonos!?”
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Valentina precisely knew what I was talking about. Without asking for directions or further details, she took me to the exact park I was referring to. I can tell that this ‘park’ is probably one more of ‘our things’. We walk around the place side by side, the morning weather is quite pleasant despite the cold wind that hits our skin now and then. We arrive at the bench that I’ve been sitting on for days, I look at her trying to catch any reactions that could affirm that 'it' means something. And then she smiles. It does mean something.
“Would you like to sit?”
I answer her with a shy smile and then we sit. Our bodies are slightly far, but I can notice her eyes on me. I look at her and there are tears rolling down her face, my heart breaks in million. I feel so bad for seeing her like this, so vulnerable and at the same time trying to hold her emotions in order to ‘be strong’ in front of me.
“I am sorry Val!” That’s all I can pronounce.
“Please Juls, stop apologizing! Crying will be inevitable at this point, it’s just too much to handle at once. But I need you to stop apologizing for everything. We’re in this together; we must be mutually patient, ok?”
“Ok. Sorry for… sorry for saying sorry! Mierda. Perdon… Ok, I’ll shut up!” She let the sweet laugh of hers escape and I felt fine again, just for making her smile.
We spend a few minutes contemplating the little lake ahead of us, I’m very curious to know more about our history behind it all. I turn my head towards her once again, and afterward taking a deep breath, I finally find to courage to ask.
“Would you be comfortable in telling me about this… I mean, what is the history behind that park? There must be a reason… right?”
She nods bashfully, her eyes still focused ahead in some place far away. I’m not sure if she is actually looking at something or if she’s just ‘trapped’ in her own mind. After a while, she looks at me and starts speaking.
“Bien, I’ll tell you everything but only if you promise me that we won't have to dance later…”
“Okay…” I agree with her proposal even though I don’t understand what she means by that.
“We’ve met around five years ago in one of your night shifts when you’re still coursing the last year of med school. A friend of mine was so wasted after a party that he couldn’t even walk, and for this, I took him to the hospital. You took care of him while I watched you working… I had a crush on you instantly, we didn’t have much time to talk that dawn. So, the following day I went back to the hospital pretending I was sick. The nurses in the triage said I hadn’t fever or anything more urgent, thus it wouldn’t be necessary to be transferred to the emergency room. I needed to see you, so I… that’s going to sound ridiculous but… I pretended that I passed out”.
I can’t hold a deep laugh after hearing that. This woman is not from this world, I wish I could remember that… After laughing with me for good minutes, she keeps telling me the story.
“I succeeded on getting to the emergency room, and you were there with a glamorous pony tail in your hair and your seductive half smile… I almost fainted just for seeing you, but this time for real. You examined me and of course, you found nothing abnormal. I think you knew right away that I was pretending. You’re too good on your job, and even more on reading me.” She softly smiles at me while pushing some of my hair behind my ear. I lean my head to the touch, we both remain in silence for a few minutes before she continues.
… … …
“Hey you! Your friend was wasted last night and today it’s your turn?” Juls enters the room taking the clipboard from Valentina’s bed to read her medical record from the triage.
“I’m not ‘wasted’. I just need care… can you take care of me doc?” Valentina answers with her ‘sexiest tone of voice’ making Juliana lift an eyebrow.
“Definitely Miss…. Carvajal!? What are you feeling? I can see that you’ve slept for a few minutes down at the triage… hmm?” Juliana places her hand on the girl’s forehead to measure her temperature, which was totally normal.
“Sí, I passed out. I have a… hmm… a headache?” Val would do anything to make Juliana touch her again.
“Are you asking me, sleepy beauty?” Juls laughs while she takes the stethoscope from her neck and puts it in her ears, while the other extremity is placed on Val’s chest. “Please, breathe deeply for me!” Val inhales deeply to fill her lungs with the black-haired woman’s perfume.
The cold touch of the instrument on Valentina’s chest makes the blue eyes girl shiver, but Juls' hand is so close to her skin that it's such a warm reward. Her heart speeds up frenetically, and it wasn’t because she was feeling any illness. Juliana counts the woman’s heartbeats and everything is normal, so the doctor asks her to move her body to a sitting position. Valentina obeys readily.
“Okay, open your mouth for me and please make Aaaah…” Juls holds her neck to be able to see the depths of Val’s throat, and again, nothing wrong. The doctor caress her cheeks sliding her thumbs on each side gently, provoking a smile on those perfect pink lips. ‘This girl is gorgeous!’ Juliana states to herself in her mind.
“Have you already detected what is wrong with me doc?” Valentina is definitely flirting, and Juls much enjoys it.
“Not yet, but I have some assumptions. Let me see this… okay, open your eyes as wide as possible and follow my finger, not the flashlight”. Juliana has seen innumerous eyes as she did this checking in so many other people while working as a resident doctor, but none of them - and absolutely no eyes - were quite as beautiful as Valentina’s.
“Can I tell you something very cliché? I know you probably have heard this so many times, but it still worth saying it…”
“Yes, you can tell me whatever it is doc. I can handle it!” Valentina teased.
“Your eyes… they’re… awful!” Juls said seriously, trying to control her laugh at the girl’s reaction.
“Yeah? They’re that bad hmm..” Val followed her play, they were just entering in a teasing war.
“Sí… es como [it’s] too blue. It’s horrible! I know you must hear that a lot… sorry for not being original, but just saying...” Juls now had a side smile on her face, proud to surprise the woman.
Valentina was so enchanted that she forgot to speak. She could stare at that woman for the entire day without getting bored. Juls moved through the place grabbing something that Val didn’t perceive what, she was too occupied taking a look at the doctor’s body. Juliana noticed the blue eyes hungrily gazing at her, which made her smile even more widely.
“Here, take this pill. It will make you feel better”. Juls knew that Valentina wasn’t anyhow sick, she was healthy as a professional athlete. However, watching the woman’s reaction would be funny. Val didn’t say anything, what would she say? Juls placed her hands on each of her coat’s pockets staring at Valentina.
“Que? Have you lost your voice now?” The doctor mocked.
“It’s ok. It’s not a medicine, it’s a candy. You were such a good girl allowing me to exam you without crying. So, in reward for your great behavior, you deserve a sweet!” Juls laughed so hard that her cheeks heated up as if it was on fire. Valentina looked embarrassed but she managed to smile at the brunette.
“Now, I must say that it’s not nice to pretend you’re sick. There are many people that are truly sick and don’t have the privilege of medical care.” Juls spoke with a serious tone, but not trying to give Valentina a sermon as parents do. It was more like a friend’s advice.
“Perdon!” Valentina said ashamedly.
“Todo bien, no te pongas esta carita [don’t do that face]”. Juls rubbed Val’s cheek gently. “I think I can forgive you if you tell me why you’re truly here…” The brunette knew it, but she wanted to hear the girl saying it.
Valentina smiled at her as a child winning a candy…oh, she just did. But the candy she wanted was beyond bigger than the one on her hands, it was in fact standing in front of her.
“I would like to know if you could give me your number… and if... you would go on a date with me?” She let the words come out her mouth fast enough so she wouldn’t lose the courage of saying it aloud.
Juls didn’t answer her. The doctor grabbed her prescription book and started to write on it. Not a single word was pronounced, and Valentina was so nervous that she even tried to lift her head to sneak a peek on what Juls was doing. The brunette pressed her stamp on the paper, signed the bottom of the page, and handed it to her.
“You’re discharged, ugly eyes! Enjoy your candy and take some rest.” Juls winked and left the room to check the other patients and Val couldn’t understand a thing until she looked at the paper.
--- Prescription ----
Symptoms - increasing rates of blood circulation, speeded breathing provoking fast pulsation and dilatation in the (awful - too blue) eyes.
Treatment – meet me at the town park at 12pm. I’ll be waiting for you at the bench by the lake. I’ll do my best to help you to heal.
When Val finished telling me all this I felt a mixture of emotions. She was smiling so intensely at me that I couldn’t control myself. I leaned my head slowly to give her the freedom to reject my kiss if she didn’t want it, but instead, she came into my encounter and placed her forehead on mine. I rubbed my cold nose on hers and we both smiled at the touch, it didn’t take too long until our lips moved together.
We started softly. Feeling each second of the moment, listening carefully to every sound of our mouths connecting, tasting slowly the other’s flavor. Her tongue was sliding on my lips; I opened my mouth to suck it carefully. We both moaned at the sensation, and after that, things got a bit hotter. Her fingers locked on my neck and my hands were pulling her hair, our tongues gliding intensely against one another, and our moans becoming louder. We completely forgot we were in a public place and we just 'woke up' when her phone rang.
We separated our bodies and she answered the call. I stood up and stepped ahead just enough to give her some privacy to talk on the phone. I almost lost control. After hearing all this, it just reassured me that what I feel for her is more than real, and considering the way she looks at me and touches me, I can tell that eso es amor.
She turns her phone off and walks towards me. We stare at each other in an unutterable bliss, we intertwine our fingers and she kisses my hand.
“It was my dad on the phone. He wants to know if you would like to come for Christmas’ eve at his place”.
“humn.. I don’t know if it’s a good idea Val. I was so rude with your family. I mean…”
“Juls, they love you. I know you don’t remember them, but they absolutely care for you as much as I do. However, if you don’t feel comfortable to go, it’s ok. They’ll understand. We don’t want to pressure you, and you don’t have to do anything that isn’t cozy for you!”
“Cierto, gracias!” I don’t exactly answer her about the invitation because I’m still thinking about it, and she understands that and respects my time. I feel a tightness in my heart because I am really curious to know about my family. Right now, it seems that her family was all I had… so I can’t hold this question for any longer.
“Val, could you please tell me about my mom?” I am almost sure that she doesn’t want to talk about that, by her reaction. But again, she takes my hand and leads me to the car.
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I knew that question could be made at any time, but I just hoped it wasn’t too soon. It’s inevitable not to worry on how she’ll react when she finds out that… well, I can’t private her of anything, it’s her history. I hold the steering wheel firmly, we don’t speak to each other until I pull over. It was a five minutes’ drive from the park, but it seemed like an eternity due to the tension we're both feeling.
I parked the car right in front her mother’s place. I haven’t been here for so long... I feel tears forming in my eyes but I hold it. Juls unlocks her seatbelt and turns her body towards me. I look at her, and she’s desperately awaiting for some explanation.
“Juls we don’t have to do this today… I mean, I don’t know if I can do it to be honest”. My hands are cold and I can feel my body shaking. It’s unfair and selfish of me to be like this, but the past days have been so hard and I truly don’t’ know for how long I can handle this tornado of emotions.
“Valentina, I need to know about my mother”. She almost chokes up while a tear rolls down her cheek. My heart can’t take it. I swallow hard trying to keep my shit together.
“Panchito told me she passed away three years ago, if is that what you fearing to tell me… you just don’t need to feel pity. I am willing to face any pain, I’ll be strong”.
“You weren’t the last time! You just opted to leave…” I say harshly, but without intending so. I regret my words instantly, but they already came out my mouth and there’s nothing I can do to ‘unsay’ it.
I look down, I am not able to meet her eyes. A wave of rage takes control of my body. I’ve kept it on my chest for all over those past years, and now it’s mixtured with the remorse of being mad at her when she doesn’t even know why I am yelling.
“Perdon!” I whisper.
“No apologies. If I ain’t allowed to say sorry, you aren’t either!” She offers a shy smile.
“How can you be so adorable Juls? Sometimes I just accept that I don’t deserve you…”
“Que? Stop it! If you’re saying that because I left you… please don’t! I don’t know why I was so stupid to actually leave you… I mean, I’ve been trying to recall the past because I need to find a reasonable explanation to myself for doing such imbecility. Look at you woman! You’re absolutely gorgeous, and not only that. You’re so clever, gentle, human… I’ve been hanging out with you for a few hours and I am totally falling for you. Val, you’re a dream! I mean, many people are searching for someone like you, and I just left you. how stupid could I be….”
“You stop it! Enough Juls”. I yell at her again. I don’t even know why I am so angry right now.
“Val… mirame! Por favor… I know it is not easy for you, and I am feeling terrible to see you suffering like that, believe me. But in order to know who I am, I need to know who I was”.
I wipe the tears from my face and we step out of the car and then she joins me on the sidewalk. We knot our fingers and I lead her into the building. The elevator stops on the third floor and I take her to her mother’s apartment. We stop at the door, in silence. I look at her and she doesn’t seem to remember about the place. I take the key from my purse and Juls stares at me.
“You used to live here with your mother. You gave the keys to Guille, after I refused seeing you before you…. left. My brother passed it to me not so long ago. I just came here once, but I couldn’t stay any longer than five minutes. All your belongings still here, exactly as you left them… well, not all. I took one of your jackets… you know…just to have a piece of you with me”.
“Val… Yo…” She tries to say something but I interrupt her.
“Please Juls, don’t! Let’s go inside to see if you can recall something ok?!”
“Sí” She answered with a low tone of voice. I almost couldn’t hear it, but her nod reassured me that she was ready to keep going.
I unlock the door and before opening it, I take her hand on mine. She holds it firmly, as if she is afraid of seeing what's inside. I can’t deny that I’m scared too, I don’t know what to expect from now on.
We enter the apartment and the smell of dirt is quite intense. I reach to the windows to open it, to let the sunlight and some fresh air enter the place. The entire furniture is covered with blankets, and the other objects were all wrapped in cardboard boxes. Juls is hesitant, she stares at me as if she was waiting for my permission to touch the things. I encourage her to explore the place and she finally begins to look around.
My stomach is twisting and my hands are sweaty. This apartment ‘stores’ many memories of us and I’m really not feeling well of being here. Juliana walks around the living room, quiet, focused. I don’t dare to say a word, I just watch her. She pushes the blankets from the sofa, and then she sits down. Her hands are placed on her face; she rubs her eyes and sighs.
“Val. I don’t remember a thing. Not a single damn thing”. Her voice is dominated by frustrations and confusion. I swallow my feelings trying to remain myself on my feet. My knees are weak and the weight of my own body seems too much to be held. Suddenly, I hear some crying. She cries desperately and I just can’t take it. I run towards her and I kneel in front of her body. I separate her legs to place myself in between them and I hug her. She places her head on my shoulders while I caress her back trying to give her some comfort. We cry together letting part of the pain, the sadness, and the despair out.
After a few minutes, I pull my body from hers to join our foreheads. Juls settles her breath to a normal pace and I dry some of the tears that still rolling down her face. Her hands are around my waist, holding tightly. Without any control of my acts, I kiss her lips. It was a soft kiss. A kiss that meant to replace the words that I wasn’t able to say at that moment. It meant that she wasn’t alone, and especially that I still love her. And she answered me at the same intensity. Between the unspoken, we felt the reciprocation of our feelings for each other.
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I stand up after a while, pulling Val from the floor into my arms. We embrace each other for a couple more minutes. I lock my eyes on hers and a smile forms on my lips.
“You really have awful eyes, don’t you?!” I tease her and then I taste another soft kiss. I feel so good in her arms, it’s just amazing how time seems to stop when my lips find hers.
"Hey. Why don’t you go take a look into your room, maybe it could help you to remember something”.
“Yes, that’s a good idea. Will you come with me?”
“I show which door to enter, but I think I will wait for you in here. If that’s ok…”
“All right, I won’t push you. If you want to leave I will understand Val”.
“I won’t leave you. I just don’t want to go inside there. Not yet, I need some more time to adjust”.
I agree with her and respect her pain. She’s being a warrior, and I wasn’t lying when I said that I am completely falling for her (again). She shows me the door and I enter the bedroom. The first impression isn’t so bad; I feel comfortable, as if I am truly at ‘home’. There are many boxes spread on the floor, most of them labeled. ‘Med books’, ‘med gadgets’, ‘med articles and works’. It seems that my life was about my career… Then, I look to the other side to find a cardboard box labeled as ‘Us’. I open it to find a few objects; sitting on the floor with my back pressed against the bed's foot, I start digging into the box.
I find a peach-shaped cushion, a t-shirt with the writings on red ‘more than friends’, a pair of horrible sunglasses that make me laugh, and a picture of myself standing with Val and a woman. I stare at the picture for a while, I can’t tell for sure who that woman is, but I have a good guess though…
… … …
“JULIANAAAA…. Andale hija. We’re going to be late for your graduation ceremony! Santo Dios!!!”
“Ya má, I am almost ready” Juls runs to the living room where her mother was impatiently waiting for her. She had the pair of heels still on her hands, which had to be already on her feet a long time ago.
“Are you still barefoot? Ai Juli!”
“Má, don’t worry. Everything is under control. You can go ahead and meet Val downstairs, she’s already outside. I’ll catch up in a couple minutes” Juliana was standing next to the sofa where she placed her hand to find balance while wearing the shoes.
“I don’t know how that girl can handle you, she’s a saint! I don’t how I can handle you… APURATE, YA!” Lupita left the apartment murmuring some other words making Juliana laugh.
“It’s because you both love me so much Lupee...” Juls yelled to her mother already heading down stairs.
Juliana started to run like a mad woman through the house to collect everything: purse, wallet, extra battery for Val’s camera, grad's gown and hat, cellphone… ‘Damn it, where is my phone?’ She cursed to herself until she found out that the phone was already on her hand and she didn’t even notice it.
“You look incredibly sexy running around on those heels, but we really need to go baby!” Valentina was standing at the door for a couple minutes watching her gorgeous girlfriend. She was wearing a red dress that made Juliana’s chin drop in fascination. Her shoulders were uncovered, as much as her long perfect tuned legs.
“Wow!” Juls couldn’t think properly after staring at the most beautiful woman she’d ever seen in life.
“Amor, we really have to go, now!” Valentina reached Juliana’s body and placed her index finger under her chin forcing it up to close her mouth, and then she gave a quick soft kiss on her lips. Juls pulled her closer and held her waist firmly to kiss her deeply. After allowing Juliana to kiss her collarbone, her neck and her shoulder, Valentina decided to push herself away before losing control and getting even later for the ceremony.
“Hermosa! You’re absolutely stunning, do you know that?” Juls whispered against her ear, pulling their bodies back together.
“Mi vida, if you keep saying those nice things I won’t be able to leave this apartment”. Valentina moaned in response.
“Then we stay. I don’t even care about that stupid ceremony; I rather be here, cherishing you, kissing you, loving you…” Juliana started to slide her hand on Val’s thigh, making her way up until she stopped at her ass. Valentina almost lost her mind, and before it happened she grabbed Juls’ hands and took’em away.
“Mas amor, if you don’t graduate properly I can’t give your graduation gift later…” Valentina teased and walked away heading to the door quickly. Juls took a long breathe and smiled. She once again collected her things, but this time she left the apartment to join her girlfriend and her mother.
… … …
"Lupe! that’s my mother. Well, she was my mother…” After the vision, I kept myself staring at the picture for a little longer. I had imagined how my mother would look like, after I've read about her in the grad book, but I didn’t make her justice. She was beautiful, and she looked so happy on that picture…
I stood up to open the closet and verify what was inside of it. There were some well-folded t-shirts and some other clothing. I passed my fingers through the closet’s door, and then I curiously opened one of the drawers to find a necklace inside of it. Once I touched the golden object, my sight grew dim and my head started to spin.
… … …
“Por favor, don’t hurt them Macario! You want me, not them!” Lupita had put herself in front of Juliana to protect her.
“No! Ma, get back here!” Juliana pleaded trying to push her mother away from the gun’s direction.
“Shut up stupid! That’s between Lupe and I, go to your fucking room or run away like that chicken just did!” Macario yelled at Juls while taking Lupita forcefully by her arms. As Lupe tried to get away from his hands, he madly stabbed her on the face with his gun, making it bleed. In an unthoughtful - but instinctive - act, Juls jumped on him to push the drunk man away from her mother.
“Ma, are you ok?” She embraced her mother in her arms, both on the floor.
“Juliana, leave the house. Let me deal with him!” Lupita ordered, more like a supplication.
“I’ll protect you ma. I’m not leaving, I’m here with you!” Juliana answered crying.
“Oh yes, you’re protecting her? So stand up and face me, your piece of shit!” his voice was trembling due to the high level of alcohol in his body, but Juliana was so mad that she didn’t considered his lack of sanity and she stood to stab him on his face.
“I hate you! You’re the piece of shit, and you’re never going to touch my mother again. You won't ever hurt her anymore; only over my dead body” Juls was like a lion defending its family.
“As you wish!” Macario lifted his gun and pointed it at the brunette.
Sounds of dry shots.
… … …
‘NO!’ I desperately try to push some air into my lungs; placing my hands on my chest, I seek to diminish the pressure I’m feeling in my heart. My eyes still closed but I know I just had another vision. I hear rushed steps towards me. Valentina probably heard me screaming.
“Juls, que pasa? Are you ok?” She hugs me and I can’t speak. There isn't enough air in my body to allow me to do so. We sit on the bed and after long minutes of silence, I find the courage to talk to her.
“Val, can we leave? Yo… I need fresh air!” I’m still confused about everything I just ‘saw’. The back of my head aches substantially. Valentina takes me to the living room and I swallow the sadness to contain the tears that were forming in my eyes, I don’t want to break in front of her. It wouldn’t be fair after all I am putting her through.
“Do you want to talk about it?” She whispers.
“No”. I reply sharpely. “Perdon! I didn’t mean to be rude”.
“It’s fine Juls. We can leave now…”
“Thank you! Do you think I could borrow some clothes from that closet before we go? I mean, I just have a four t-shirts set...”
“Are you asking me if you can borrow from your own closet? You’re unbelievable!” Valentina laughs and for the first time since the occurred, I relax. I go back to the room to take some of the clothing but I don’t dare to look at the boxes or at the drawer again. I quickly grab some jeans pants, shirts, jackets, and a pair of sneakers. Val helps me to carry it all and we leave the apartment.
Juliana and I didn’t talk about what happened earlier this morning at her mother’s place, we’re just leaving it for later. When ‘later’ exactly is, I just don’t know. Right now, I am glad that she accepted to come to my dad’s house for Christmas’ eve. She seems to be more comfortable around my family this time, which is what I expected since they’re like her family too. Chivis - protective and lovely as she is – has been trying to make Juliana eat for the entire time since we stepped inside the house, a couple hours ago.
“Hey Juls, would you accompany me to the garden?” I propose and she, in a jiff, agrees.
We sit by the pool area, the breeze is at the same time cold but refreshing. She seems to be distant, I can’t blame her after all she’d been through.
“You know that you don’t need to stay if you’re not enjoying to be here, right?”
“Yes Val, gracias”. She tries to smile but I just know her too well to be sure that something is bothering her.
“It is ok if you don’t want to tell me yet, but when you’re ready I am here to listen”. I caress her cheek and place a soft kiss on it.
“You’re too good! You know what… I am the one who isn’t enough for you and not the contrary, as you said earlier in the car”. She whispers in a sad tone.
“Juls, por favor. Don’t…” I don’t even have a chance to finish my phrase.
“No, Val. It’s not fair! You don’t deserve that”.
“What do you mean Juliana?”
“You don’t deserve half of me. It isn’t right to keep you suffering that much for me. Yo…”
“You what Juliana? Don’t fucking start with that again!” I shout madly, I can feel the anger rising on my insides.
“We shouldn’t be together. I can’t be selfish at the point to make you tolerate my lack of memory and pretend that everything is fine. I won’t put you through the pain of having to wait until the day I miraculously regain my memories… it might never happens”.
“And so what, you’re planning on leaving me again? How on earth it isn’t selfish?” I stand up and I try hard not to cry.
“Val, it’s not what love supposed to be. Eso es una basura [It’s garbage]”
“No, it’s not. But you’re making it to be Juliana!” She stood up in front of me.
“What, leave again? You’re not going anywhere before you listen to what I have to say. The last time I let you go, this time you’re fucking listening to me!”
She gave me her back and started to rub her head and then her neck, I couldn’t control my fury, so I just kept going.
“Who the fuck do you think you’re to leave me like you did, come back after all that time and decide for me whether I want to be with you or not?”
“I don’t know who I am Valentina, that’s exactly the point!” She answers yelling too, just to balance our elevated tone of voice.
“I’ll tell you who you’re. You’re an egotistical dumb-ass! All that I wanted was to help you overcome the pain you were feeling Juliana, but you weren’t courageous enough to let me take care of you. You always thought that you were able to heal everyone at any time, but you couldn’t heal yourself. I’m tired of not being heard, of not having my will respected. I wanted to be with you, no matter how long it would take for you get over your mother’s death, I would be there for you. But what did you do? You just fucking decided for both of us, you decided for me without asking me if that was what I wanted. You left me. Didn’t my pain matter? Wasn’t my love sufficient for you? Isn’t it enough now?”
I cry, I cry hard. I rush inside the house and my family were all watching the fight. I pass through them and I don’t stop besides all the concerned words they spoke to me. I get to my room and shut the door roughly. I can’t control the tears falling down, my heart aches so badly that I wish it could just stop beating. I would rather die than seeing her leaving me once more. Suddenly, the door opens.
“Fuck off Juls!”
“Come here… hey, I heard you. I am not going to leave you. Not this time Val… I heard you!”
She hugs me tightly even though I tried to push her away. I finally settle in her arms, it’s warm and it’s real. She’s here in front of me swearing to stay, so I just believe in her words and I hug her back. We kept ourselves in each other’s arms for long minutes until Lucia knocked at the door to make sure everything is fine. Juls talks to her and then my stepmother leave us alone. Juliana asks me if she could close the door and I just nodded in permission.
We sit on my bed and we stare at the other’s eyes. Both of us have our noses, eyes, and cheeks red from the crying. She wipes my tears away with one hand and caress my arm with the other hand. The silence fills the room. It’s comfortable, or at least convenient, after all the shouting.
“Are you feeling better?” She whispers.
“I’m feeling lighter”. We both laugh.
“Good!” Juls passes her fingers through my hair and I close my eyes at the great sensation from her touch. I notice her hand shaking, as if she still unsure about touching me. I pull her into another hug, but this time we’re on a sitting position, so my body almost goes on top of hers. I push her hair away to inhale the smell of her neck then I feel her skin shivering. Her hands are steady on my back and I just feel she pulling me closer to her. I sit completely on top of her, spreading my legs to each side of her waist. We stay in this position for minutes; I haven’t felt safe like that for so long.
“Hum” She pulls herself back and places her forehead on mine. Her blues eyes still have red shadows, and it makes me feel so freacking guilty. But at the same time, I feel like she needed to expel all the unspoken pain from her chest. It might help us to keep going on this unknown path.
“I promise you that I won’t leave”. I whisper the words looking straight into her eyes, my mouth very close to her lips. Tears roll down her face all over, and I really didn’t mean to make her cry again. She notices my despair, and she ensures me that she’s alright.
“Allow me to cry. I’ve been holding it for so long... I’m just happy that you will stay”. She rubs her nose on mine and I barely can handle the heat growing on my body.
“Is it too soon to say that I love you?” I can’t control my brain and the words just come out.
“Is that how you’re really feeling?” She smiles after the question.
“Yes!” I don’t hesitate to answer.
“Then I guess it’s ok! Actually, it’s quite late, don’t you think? It’s been a few years since you whispered it on my ears for the last time”. She teases.
“It wasn’t the last time. I came back to tell you that again!”
I take her hair away from her ears. I lean her body against the mattress carefully and settle my body on top of hers. I kiss her neck and then her eyes. Gently, I caress her lips and she takes my jacket. My hands explores underneath her shirt, and her skin is perfectly warm. I look at her and she licks her lips, her blue eyes are fiercely wide watching every movement I make.
Val takes one of my hands and intertwine her fingers with mine. I kiss the back of her hand making my way up to her arm, shoulder, and then I suck her pulse. She lets a soft moan escape her throat, and I am too excited to stop now. I lick slowly her jawline, and then I kiss the skin in the back of her ear.
“Valentina, I’m in love with you for the second time in this life. I’ve always been and I always will!” I say word by word to emphasize how I truly feel about her. The response is immediate. She takes my head between both her hands and pull me into a fervent kiss. The taste of her tongue is something heavenly; I can’t have enough of her.
Quickly, she takes my shirt off and I do the same with hers. I try to use some time to admire her semi naked body underneath mine, but she pulls me back into another kiss hungrily. Her hands find my back, her nails scratch my skin softly, but sufficiently maddening. She unclasps my bra and a wave of uncertainty invades me.
“Are you ok?” She kindly asks.
“Val, what if I… what if I don’t know how to do that anymore?!” Bashfully, I say what’s in my mind.
“Juls, I don’t think you could ever forget how to make love. I mean, if you want to stop we can stop…”
“No, I don’t us to stop. I just need you to be patient…”
“Te amo Juliana, just love me!” her words are like adding gasoline to my body already on flames.
I denude the rest of my body and I repeat it on hers. Our skin touching without any impediment is absolutely delicious. I touch her with care and respect; it’s like the first time for me. Valentina is extremely delicate at the beginning, but as the things were heating up faster and faster, she guided me to a more intense pace. I just let myself feel without reasoning my actions.
I rubbed my thigh more firmly against her center; her moans were becoming louder, and each time I pressed it more intensively. My hand automatically found her abdomen and she opened her legs even wider so I could touch her. I pushed my body to the side, placing my legs on top of one of her thighs and my hand on her clit. We perfectly moved together, pulling our bodies even closer. After kisses and moans, she started to tremble underneath my body, and I came hard just for watching her coming on my fingers.
Breathing sharply into her arms, I settled my head on her chest. I could hear each heartbeat of hers, and it's one of the best sounds I’ve ever heard, just tied with her laugh. I couldn’t help the smile taking shape on my lips. Her hands were around my waist and our legs tangled so tightly that I swear that I could live in this bed with her forever.
“I am glad I stayed”.
“I’m too, mi amor!”
January 31s t
I’ve never imagined that Juls and I could be so connected as before. Actually, we seem to be even more united now. She still doesn’t remember many things, but she’s trying hard. Dr. Pancho and his friend Dr. Beltran, are doing everything scientifically possible to help her to regain her memories. Juls is also doing psychological treatment with my father’s old friend, Camillo Guerra. Not only her, I have been participating in some sessions too; he said that it’s important to both of us as a couple to share our insecurities and fears. I can tell it is really helping. At least, in the past month, I could sleep better and I even was able to face the entire tempest without drinking my ass off.
The nights of sex are helping too, can’t deny that. We’ve been too long apart, it’s just hard for me not to want to make love with her every single day. But we’ve decided to take things slowly, as if we were just dating for the first time again. Juls still working at Perita’s even though Mateo had finally cancelled her obituary, and she’s got back her documents and bank account. Everything she had previously her death is back into place, but she is too virtous to don't work. She cannot be in idleness, as she says. Juliana just moved last week to her mother’s apartment. Camillo and Beltran told her that it could force her mind to exercise her memories, so Juls accepted that it was for the best. We haven’t talked just yet about that day I took her there. She seems to be hiding something from me, but I respect her time. At least, she decided to stay this time and face her pain. I’m proud of her, very proud.
I also got back to work, so we're just seeing each other at night. She switched her shifts at the bar to work only at lunchtime, that way she has mornings to exercise her body and her brain, and the nights to spend with me. That’s exactly what we’re doing tonight, movie date at her place.
We’re laid on the sofa with our bodies intertwined watching ‘About Time’, one of my favorite movies of all. Well, I am watching it, she's already sleeping with her head on my chest while I play with her hair. I just love to watch her sleeping so peacefully, like an angel. Suddenly, there’s a scene when a car crashes and the noise from the TV is quite intense. She jumps away, scared and confused.
“The missile! I’m dead, where… Val!”
“I am here Juls. Calm down, you’re alive baby. Calm down!” I try to hold her as close to me as humanly possible, until she settles.
“I was… I just dreamed about the missile”. She whispers.
“Okay, tell me about it baby”.
“I thought it was a shooting star… I was praying before it hit the camp. I don’t know…” She starts crying and I decide not to push things any further.
“It’s ok baby, good thing you were praying. God brought you home; He guided you back to me”.
We hug each other and we decide to try to sleep, right there in the living room. Hopefully the warmth of our love will give us the comfort to rest through the night.
I woke up with a pain in my head, I had dreams about Africa all night long. It’s hard to know what is real and what is just part of my imagination. Val has been so patient... sometimes I wonder how good I was in my previous life to deserve that woman on this one. It’s Saturday, we both don’t have to work today. I let her sleeping for a bit more, she must be tired after waking up each pair of hours through the whole night with me screaming at my nightmares.
I cover her body with the blanket and she moves herself to a comfort position. I head to the kitchen to prepare breakfast for us. She wakes up an hour later with the smell of the coffee invading the entire apartment. She approaches and kisses me tenderly, I smile against her wet lips.
“Buenos dias hermosa!”
“Buenos dias mi amor! What have you prepared for us?”
“Pancakes, and kisses…” We make out for some time and then we stop to eat before the food gets too cold.
We eat in silence. My mind is too far away, in another continent to be more accurate. I look towards the living room and I see someone running. I jump at the sight. I blink once, then twice… but I see the figure again.
“Juls, what’s that?"
I look back to Valentina who’s watching me with a spooky face. She probably thinks I’m crazy… maybe I am. I don’t have time to answer, when I turn my head around to see Macario pointing his gun towards us.
“Val, run! Macario’s here, run!” I shout and I stand up to place my body in front of her.
“Juls, mi amor… There’s no one besides me and you in the apartment. Calm down…”
“You’re not going to hurt her, you’ll have to kill me first!” I yell at him and he laughs ironically. He lifts his arm and aims his gun in front of my forehead, my body shakes completely. There are voices of a woman in the background, but I can’t hear it properly.
“I’ll kill you if you don’t move!” he says.
“Then kill me, I won’t let you hurt the love of my life”. Then I hear the sound of two dry shots, my head spins and it all goes black.
It’s been four days since Juls had that hallucination. We’ve brought her to the hospital that morning and doctor Beltran decided to keep her here for a while, at least until he can figure out what is happening with her brain. She is under medication, since she was fighting ‘with Macario’ all the time. I haven’t left her side for a day. By now, probably I’ve already lost my job, but I rather lose a stupid career than losing her again.
The doctor just said that she might wakes up at any time soon, they’ve cut the medication to see how she’ll react. Not so long, she opens her eyes and desperately calls my name.
“I’m here mi amor, calm down. You’re okay, and I’m here with you!” I caress her cheeks trying to comfort her, but it didn’t work so well.
“Val, what’s happening? I’m scared…” She cries and I keep myself strong in front of her.
“Amor, it’s ok. Dr. Beltran and Dr. Pancho are helping us. You’ll be okay, you’re ok”
“I’m going crazy Val. I am mental!” She holds my hands forcefully and I reciprocate the touch.
“You’re not mental corazon, you just need to have some patience. Okay?! Do you trust me?”
“I trust you”. She closes her eyes and tears fall down. Guille is in the room with me, watching everything in silence. I look at him and he smiles at me to give me strength.
Dr. Beltran enters the room after a while to check on Juls once more. She's better now, calm and relaxed. Not a single vision during the past three hours. Dr. Pancho is with him, and there are a few other resident students accompanying them.
“Why am I not able to remember good interactions with my mother? I just recall painful moments, the same thing over and over again”.
“Jualiana, to be honest your brain has recovered completely. The last exams just showed me that there isn't a single part of it that is still damaged. It’s completely healed, even where the collision was stronger. I am not a psychologist, I’m a neurologist but I’m not a stupid scientist who doesn’t consider all possibilities. My guess for those repeated visions of yours is that you’re trying to recreate a memory that impacted you considerably”.
“What do you mean doctor?” she asks him. He looks at me and then stares at Pancho before answering her.
“It’s not my place to tell you anything about your life previously the accident. I’m here to help you to physically heal your brain, and it already happened. So, what I am saying is that those visions can be related with your psychological state. I recommend you to intensify the treatment with Dr. Guerra, I’ll personally talk with him”.
“You’re saying that I am going insane?”
“No, absolutely not”. He laughs. “I’m just saying that emotions can be the motive that you still didn’t regain all your memories yet. Now, you might need to overcome your own resentments in order to heal emotionally as well”.
They all left the room, she looks at me with scared eyes and I don’t know what to do or say. Guille also leaves to give us some privacy. She sits up and rubs her face anxiously. I sit on the bed, next to her legs, facing her.
“Valentina, Macario killed my mother didn’t he?”
“Yes, he did!” I answer without hesitation, she needs to trust me and I just can deserve her trust if I am honest with her.
“He was drunk” That wasn’t a lie, but it wans’t the entire truth either.
“Why? Val, please!”
“He was your father Juls, and your mother divorced from him long time before he… well, he never accepted the divorce…”
She starts crying and I just tell her that I’m not saying anything about this subject again, at least until she recovers. She agrees.
Camillo and I are talking for about two hours now. He’s been trying to map my emotions' patterns, so he might finds out a way to help me to ‘heal’ completely. We’ve talked about my days in Africa, my dreams about Val’s eyes, the nightmares with the missile strike, and my recent visions about Macario.
"Juliana, I need you to understand, and more than understand, you have to accept that things won’t be easy. There is no way to overcome the pain without facing it. Embrace your feelings, all of them. Fear, love, hate, hope… Let yourself feel, free your own mind and heart”.
"Beautifully spoken, doctor!” I tell him with an ironic tone. Val shoots a sharp look at me and I breathe deeply.
“Perdon, I don’t mean to be rude. It’s just not easy to do as it is to say” I try to retreat myself and then she smiles at me.
“I acknowledge that, you’re right. Eso es sobre creer or no creer (it’s about believing or not believing), I can’t force you to think as I do. What I am trying to say is that, the rough times can seem to last forever, but it doesn’t. Think about the seasons of the year, for example. Each of them has the same amount of months (three each), but each period of our life defines how long it’s going to last. In the summer, the heat can be too much that we might get dehydrated and lose our strength to keep fighting. In the fall, everything can appear to be falling apart. Winter, the cold and the dark days may seem to last an eternity…”
“Just like this one…” I complete his sentence.
“Just like this one for you Juliana! You got the idea. But, nothing lasts forever. Life is made of cycles: hours, days, years, seasons… life and death. Sometimes we have the chance to restart, as you’re having right now. So, as a homework, I want you to think about how you want your next cycle to be”.
“Like, what I wish to happen in the spring?”
“Yes, that’s a good point of view. How do you wish your spring to be?” After that, Camillo closes his notebook and leave. Val takes him to the door and hugs him. She comes back to my side and kisses me softly and I completely melt. I look at her and I try to find the courage to ask her something that has been on my mind for quite long.
“Val, did I hurt you that day when I ‘saw Macario’ for the first time? Sorry to bring it up out of nowhere, but I’m just kepping this doubt inside my head for a while now...”
“No you didn’t. You actually said you would die to protect me Juls”.
“I really would” I smile, but she seems worried.
“Don’t say that, please. I don’t want you to die. Not again Juliana".
“Val, oye. Se me muero, que sea de amor por ti”.