She learned that mistakes are stepping stones to an evolving life.
HONORABLE MENTION in the Twisted Tales Contest by Arakun the Twisted Raccoon , June 2011
FEATURED in the Writing.Com Newsletter: Drama: Exploring the Types of Scenes .II., by Joy , Editor's Picks, May 30, 2018
There are times I think about the decisions I’ve made, the roads I’ve taken, the past actions in my life and the wrong “turns” I’ve chosen that changed my future. I don’t really have a whole lot of regrets. I believe that higher forces and the good spirits gave me these special moments where I had to make a choice. I followed my heart - most of the time. I believe that it is what it's meant to be. Make a choice, take a decision and then go for it. The gods only test the strongest, I learned that so well. I’m sure the easy way out is not really always the right choice. Where is the learning in the easy way, anyway? Some choices were hard to make, and the follow through was not easy either. But, looking back, I know I’ve done OK. I am right where I am supposed to be in my present even if some things are still uncertain and even if my little heart still feels terribly distressed sometimes.
Nevertheless, every now and then, I have some regrets. I should have done something more, something else and I didn’t, but I learned that mistakes are stepping stones to an evolving life. Yesterday was then… yet here is the one regret that comes to mind from time to time.
There was a very nice boy, sort of nerdy, who was looking for friends at Colegio Andrews, in Rio de Janeiro, an International School for foreign students. I was living in Brazil for some months before going to Cape Town, Africa. I was rather shy and liked to read a lot. I didn’t speak much, either. I felt discriminated against even though I was a blond, green-eyed, skinny young girl. I never understood why. Was it about holding books in my hands all the time that make others dislike me? Or was it my shyness?
I noticed him one day – staring at me intensely from across the school's patio. He blushed, I blushed even more and we avoided looking at each other for a whole day. I can’t remember his name, but I can remember his face quite clearly. He was blond and walked with that funny way of lifting his whole body with his heels at the end of the step. His pants were a bit short and his T-shirts were black. Like I said, he was nerdy. He was an extremely good student, a Math and Science wiz. He may have been Jewish or Polish, but I’m not really sure about that. His red pimpled face disturbed me and I named him Moon Face. He lent me a book in English once; he was trying to become fluent in English and was succeeding. I was trying to succeed in Portuguese and wasn’t. The regret is that I didn’t make him my friend the way he wanted me to. I am sure he would have been a very good friend. I have lost touch with other friends but I know deep down that all is well; their lives are going on OK. But I often wonder what happened to Moon Face --- especially after I saw him twice during the course of my life in the strangest and oddest of occasions.
He walked uneasily to where I was sitting – under the peaceful Jack tree. They provide so much shade and it was a sticky, hot day. I looked up at stared deep into his blue eyes. I thought I had dived right into them --- maybe to the Caribbean as they were so blue, a transparent crystal clear blue and I felt nauseous. I hated the idea of being at sea and drowning in those mysterious waters. Maybe I drowned in a past life, maybe I was from Atlantis. No, not maybe. I knew I was an Atlantean. Once, on a boat in Trinidad & Tobago, I looked down and saw the bottom of the ocean and the white sand down below, conchs, a sting ray and coral reefs and I thought that I was going to die right then and there. I threw up. I felt a pressure in my chest, salt water in my nose. I started believing that reincarnation was a fact, that day. I tasted salt in my tongue and I heard cries of despair coming from below; from those tormented waves. What was Moon Face doing to me?
He quietly sat next to me and handed me a thick book written in Portuguese – As Minas do Rei Salomão. I had to read it for school. He’d help me read it, he said. I asked why. He told me, right there, next to me, his cold arm touching mine, softly:
“We are soul mates.”
“Are you an Atlantean too?”
“Yes. We both are.”
“How do you know?”
“Because this 'feeling' is mentioned in Plato’s dialogs," he said. "The survivors of Atlantis would recognize themselves, find them in the future, no matter what. I found you.”
“I think you’re nuts… but who isn’t a little crazy today?” I said, laughing.
“We are soul mates. Trust me.”
“All right… Moon Face.”
“It’s how I call you in secret - Moon Face.”
He touched his pale face, blushed violently and bent his shoulders down, distressed. I reached out my hand and touched his long, pale, cold hand and squeezed it. I smiled. I noticed other students staring at me, maybe staring at this odd couple but I cared less. I was talking to someone and someone was talking to me. I finally had a friend.
“Do you believe in Poltergeists, blood suckers, supernatural events, vortexes, black holes, devils, hell, voices in your head and diabolical children?”
“No, I don’t Moon Face. I believe in good spirits, angels, free will, ghosts, karma, heaven, good deeds and good people. Why?”
“Good. We’re opposites. This is better than I thought. It’s really not all about what you see and feel but what you imagine, believe in.”
“I don’t get it, Moon Face.”
“You will, Blondie, one day.”
“It’s how I call you in secret.”
“So… are we dating?”
“Yes. And I’m in charge of… us, alright?”
“All right. Why do you have so many pimples on your face? How will I kiss you?”
“I’ll stop eating chocolate. Besides, I’m still growing up.”
“I stopped eating chocolates two years ago.”
“I hear voices in my head, Blondie. I’m weird. Sometimes I want to hurt... people, myself too.”
"Will you hurt me?"
"Never. I'm going to protect you."
"So... you're OK, trust me."
"I have heard and seen so much."
“And I have lived in three haunted houses once, in Savannah, Georgia. It is a real creepy town, full of ghosts, you know. There are angry spirits in slave holding holes in the walls of many houses in 53rd street; it was like a vortex for bad spirits. There was the spirit of a little girl who died in one of the houses. She was mischievous... always hiding my dolls in the recesses of the closets. She was retarded and her mother, a single woman, would lock her up and leave her all day while she was working. Very sad story. I had to place sea salt on the perimeter of the house just to get the spirits to quiet down. This lasted for a while and then I had to do it again. I was young but I knew "things" because of a woman from Mississippi that cleaned the house. She taught me these things – voodoo things. The girl died of diphtheria and was buried at the Laurel Grove Cemetery. Her father was most likely a plantation owner who came to sell cotton or something like that. Sometimes I dream of her still today.”
“The voices tell me stories from the beginning of times and tell me of the future. They never stop. Sometimes I think I’ll go mad. I want to do bad things. Sometimes I feel that I’m drowning, Blondie.”
“This happens to me, too. It’s OK. It’s from our past. You need to understand this and control your emotions, your negative impulses. You have to do this otherwise you’ll be under their control - negative forces. You must not listen to them. Keep control of yourself. Think positive. Never negative. They are all around us. Do you believe in the 3 W's?”
“3 W's? What’s that?”
“Wherever, Whenever, Whatever. The weirdest, strangest, the most mysterious things can happen to us. Get it? We must watch and be observant. Read the signs. React.”
“Got it. And so you see now – I need you; you need me.”
We were always together. He helped me with Portuguese, under the silent Jake tree. Even though my mother was Brazilian and I lived in Rio many times, Portuguese was a constant challenge to overcome. Rio de Janeiro was like a stopping post, like a fortress, where we stationed in between countries. My father was a diplomat and we traveled around the world. I always went to distant countries and to different cultures; to houses that were never homes. I met the strangest of people and saw that the world – wherever you go, is very much the same. You just change languages. Meanness, arrogance, intolerance and violence are the first historical points found after you live in distant places for some time.
It was time to go and I said goodbye. I held his hand again and his tears wet my arm. We never kissed. We never hugged – I couldn’t. I was too shy but I wanted to hold him so tight that I might have broken his bones as he was so fragile. I didn’t know then how much I loved him. I didn’t know then how much I was loved back.
“I will always be with you, wherever you are. Remember – you taught me so – the 3 W's!”
“Yes. The 3 W's. Never forget this! Promise?”
We exchanged addresses but we knew it was useless. We’d never meet again. I was nearly twelve years old.
Six days later, I left Brazil and traveled to Africa. I could have stayed in Rio. I was doing so well in school that I was offered the option of staying with an aunt, finish school then go to Cape Town later. I didn’t. I wanted the rains of South Africa, Table Mountain, the scorpions, the baboons, Fish Hoek and the sharks, the natives, Springfield Convent and the mysteries and wonders of the most fascinating but most dangerous place in the world. I was there for four whole years. Years later, on our way to Spain, my father’s next post, he decided to cross the Red Sea on a cruise ship and stop in Egypt so that we could visit Cairo, Luxor and the see the Great Pyramid of Giza.
The heat scorched my lungs as I stepped out of the air-conditioned car. I couldn't breathe. stepped back and nearly fell on the hot, desert-like sandy earth. I searched for air and my lungs were burning. Skeletal children, impatient and pale, surrounded me. They screamed, begging for something, anything and pulled my arms and dress as well as my blond hair – something unseen in this part of the world, maybe forbidden to the eyes and imagination. I was violently pulled by my father and we were surrounded by body guards.
We quickly went into the entrance of the pyramid and I felt the peace and power of the entrance chamber and magnificent structure. First, I couldn’t see because of the darkness which enveloped me like a hungry mouth; then the silence took over my senses and mind. I just stood there and looked up and around and felt the spiritual evidences inside the smooth white limestone. I heard horses and Arab Sultans, Pharaohs and funerals, I saw mosques and fortresses, slaves and Romans, Caliphs, Kings and historians; I suddenly knew of passages and grottos, secrets and horrible death – I was spellbound by the tons of mass over me – so many pieces of “evidence” I could not tell or even explain. My mother was scared of almost anything, even of her own daughter - me. So I was quiet, in awe, and my heart was beating faster than ever. My foolishness and distraction led me away from my group, from my parents and from the echo in the rooms.
I was suddenly lost when I turned and walked into a small door which closed slowly behind me. I screamed, I shouted. I cried but only silence. I leaned against the hardness of the cutting granite and the immense blocks cut my skin. I saw no more beauty. Air caught in my throat, denying me its life giving essence. My heart beat erratically as a panic attack gripped me. Lost, forever in the ageless wisdom of this mystifying archaeological place. I sat in the dark corner of the chamber. When I finally let go I felt his hand on my arm. I looked up. It was Moon Face, looking at me curiously. He stretched out his long arm and I held his cold hand, standing up. He cleaned my wet, dirty face and wiped my tears, lovingly. I smiled.
“What are you doing in this room, Blondie?”
“I got lost, Moon Face. I heard whispers, voices… like as if my ancestors were calling me, I swear… but what are you doing here?”
“Same as you; I like visiting distant places whenever time comes. What a coincidence, huh? I saw you at a distance. I couldn’t believe my eyes. You look lovelier than ever.”
“Are your parents outside? Are you lost, too?”
“No. Yes. No. But I came after you. You shouldn’t be here, you know. Let’s go.”
“I missed you.”
“And I, you, Blondie. Come on.”
“Why are you all dressed in black? Your hair looks strange, combed forwards. Is that gel? Why do you have a piercing on your eyebrow and on your nose? I don’t like it. I want my Moon Face back. You look different.”
“Well, I grew up. Besides, I wanted to look different, be different to others.”
“You do. I don’t like it. Who are your friends? Are you different inside, too?”
“No. I have no friends. It was only you. Come on. Let’s get out of here or you too will be unaccounted for thousands of years and destined to continue so for ages to come.”
He pushed the heavy door, softly. I was blinded by the light coming from a long hall and men dressed in long, white robes and turbans held my arms nervously and carried me away, shouting. I told my mother and father – who were as pale as clouds in the sky – about Moon Face and what he did. We searched for him and his family but they - he, must have gone in the so many tourism buses scattered outside the enormous site, under the steaming sun. Just as Moon Face appeared he vanished in thin air. I was about to become sixteen years old.
After Spain we returned to Brazil. We only stayed there for a couple of years. We were sent to Switzerland and in one of my school vacations I went to Israel against my mother’s wish - besides, I was at war with her. What best place to go to but to Israel, live in the Golan Heights, work in a Kibbutz, drive tractors and become independent? And so I went.
I fell in love with Tel-Aviv the moment I arrived. I wanted to go to the Holy Land, float in the Dead Sea, drink red orange juice, eat Falafel and taste a Sabra, watch sunsets on Haifa's beaches, visit the mountain Fortress of Masada (I had read all The Trojan Horse books by J. J. Benitez and wanted to go to each place he mentioned in his stories about Jesus Christ) and tour the old walled city of Jerusalem, my dream come true. I was young, adventurous and with my whole life ahead of me. I was invincible. I was lonely. I was hurt. I was lost. My father had died a year ago. I was nearly nineteen years old.
It was so dirty I couldn’t breathe. The stench that came from the sewers in the middle of the streets inside the old city of Jerusalem was unbearable. I was walking down the dangerous Muslim Quarter of the Old City. Even though following the map’s directions, one can get completely lost the moment you take the wrong turn or if you decide to go for a lonely walk down the narrow, dark and suffocating alleys that might take you on frightening adventure in this religious, sacred but unforeseen place.
It is not a city of peace and I didn’t know it. I was young, back-packing, wearing jeans, had long and lose blond hair, a lovely Indian style blouse and full of dreams. How can innocence be described but with rainbows, chocolate and laughter? Suddenly, I noticed an Arab man staring at me. He audaciously touched my blond hair. Some men followed me, speaking soft words in Arabic – others, would scream and point at me! I started walking faster and faster and stepped on a stone and fell. My jeans tore and my knee started to bleed. I wanted to scream, cry but I was scared; I had to run, go, and escape. I felt imprisoned in 100 gates. I managed to get up and walk away but when I turned into a narrow street, the more I walked the narrower it became and mysterious little doors either opened or closed shut when they saw me. Dogs barked, women hissed, children cried and men followed me, talking loudly. Suddenly a hand pulled me from a little dark street and dragged me away. It was a young man. He was tall and thin, very thin. His grip was firm but careful. When we arrived to an open area, some sort of open market full of vendors and baskets, mules and pottery, clothes and sun-dried fruits he turned to me and I gasped for air. I grew aghast. I covered my mouth and manage to say his name while tears mixed with saliva in my mouth:
“You saved me... again! How can this be? Oh you really saved me! I was in such distress. I was a fool, again, right? Like the last time, I made the wrong... turn.”
“Yes, Blondie. Do I have to keep an eye on you every time you make a wrong “turn”? I have other things to do, other places to go to, business to attend to - I'm learning some new stuff – like right now – I was on my way to a "congress"... when I sensed you. I saw you take the wrong direction. You have to pay attention now, hear me, Blondie? I might not able to be there ... the next time. Stop when you come to crossroad in your life or when you have to take a turn! Think. Observe. Listen. Then... you decide calmly. Promise me! If only someone was there for me when I was younger - but they were not ... Will you promise me? I must go. I’m very late. What a coincidence, huh? Are you going to do this foolish thing again?”
“Yes. I mean, no! And yes, I promise! You won’t need to worry, Moon Face. I promise.”
“Good. I must really go now. People are waiting for me. Remember, whatever you do in life, make the right decisions.”
I smiled and remembered – the 3 W's. Never forget your promises. I bent down, picked my backpack up, touched my painful knee and when I looked up he was gone. Once more. Gone. Moon Face had disappeared in the middle of the crowded road. Goosebumps spread all over my body and I cried so much that I shook and trembled; when I walked I tripped, missing my step. It was Moon Face in Luxor and it was Moon Face in Jerusalem. While I walked down the dark little streets and followed narrow passageways I remembered his cold hands, I remembered the sunset under the Jack tree and the brown leaves falling on the empty bench where he was sitting. Waves of sadness touched my heart like streams pushing my blood into the horizon. I sensed, I knew it was him there - yet, today, older, and wiser I often wonder if he ever existed or if he was ever really real.