I remember the icy chill of a pale pink glass against my warm brown skin. The sweltering heat of a Southern Arizona summer.
“Dasia.” My name from her lips was more of a question than a title. Nonetheless, I turned around to face her. She was still, standing in the open doorway. Cool air leaked through and I could almost hear the hum of an air conditioner, the bustle of women gathered around to discuss horror novels and honey scented candles. “Yeah?” I asked, instinctively straightening my back. “You could come around to the garden if you want. It’s cooler there or even inside? I made cupcakes the other day. If you’re hungry that is.” “I’m good,” I smiled politely, always politely. Lyla had grown flowers in my heart last April and Spring had never tasted sweeter. But vacations end and petals crumble. As the world around me turned a sickly yellow, I realized that we weren’t supposed to even talk anymore.
Lyla shifted her weight from foot to foot. “You’re…You’re acting how you did when you first came. You know me, Dee, please don’t act like a stranger.” I laughed aloud at that because sometimes it’s far too hard to be polite. “That’s ironic,” I mumbled. She closed the door behind her and my chest began to tighten. I turned back to face the pale blue skyline, ever interrupted by creeping mountains. After rubbing her hands on her jean shorts, she sat beside me, feet hanging off of the porch. “I never wanted it to be like this,” she whispered. I looked down to see that her hands were fidgeting. Dirt was crammed under her white painted fingernails. “It’s good,” I started, before taking a shaky breath. “That you’re still gardening I mean.” She took a band from her wrist and tied up her blonde hair. That was Lyla, pale blonde hair and red rose buds messily arranged on chubby cheeks. “Well, you know that I stopped for a while but then I just missed it. I’m tired of missing things. I’m done with it.” She shrugged as if it were simple. I sort of turned my head away. It was a lot for me. “I miss you a lot,” she added. Of course she did. “I wish I didn’t miss you as much as I do,” I responded, squeezing my eyes tightly shut. I felt her blue orchid eyes on me for a couple of seconds before her head rested itself on my shoulder. I relaxed slightly, letting her body fold into mine. “I’m so so sorry,” I heard her say with a quick kiss pressed onto my shoulder. I waited a while before saying, “It’s never going to be the same y’know. Things aren’t going to stop being terrible just because you apologized.” It probably wasn’t the best thing to say in the moment and to be fair, things were never really terrible for Lyla. Maybe in her head. I didn’t really have the allowance to simply carry my problems on the inside. It was another story for me.
I don’t want to sound self-pitying but it was bad enough being a girl. It was bad enough being black. It was bad enough liking other girls from time to time. But Lyla had known that I was a misshapen collage of all of these things, plopped down in the middle of a desert, and had still broken my heart. It was something that deserved more than an ‘I’m sorry’ and a two-day old cupcake. “I don’t care what my friends think anymore,” she said, laughing softly. I laughed too. “No really,” she added, sitting up straight. Then she said a curse word that her mom would twist her ears for. “You have to understand you didn’t acknowledge me once. I was invisible… That just doesn’t happen for no reason.” “You were never invisible mi amour,” she said. Lyla had an affinity for languages she wasn’t fluent in. She had sat up straight and kissed my cheek. “I knew you would be…mad.” “More like hurt,” I interrupted, rolling my eyes. My anger only came later with my new friends, rage was easier when you had someone to complain to. “I didn’t know how to be…I guess just be. We had every Saturday morning, this perfect time together where it was only the two of us. After we said goodbye to our parents at least… I didn’t know what it would be like in school. How I would explain it to my friends. My family.” “So you were scared…I understand. I still wish you would’ve told me, but I get it.” “You didn’t come to the book club with your mom the weekend after we got back to school and I knew I had messed up. Really really bad. I thought you were done with me.” “Maybe I am,” I said, which was so obviously a lie as she had decided to rest her hand on my thigh with no protest on my part. “I want to restart when school comes back. I want to try again.” “Ly-,” I started. “I know you still care about me. You…you have to.” We fell into a silence once more and the mountains had once again become the focal point of my eye. I knew that I wanted Lyla. I wanted Lyla in the way that I wanted air, the way I wanted to breathe. But things had changed. “I love you,” she said, quickly, as if the words had a mind of their own. “I-.” Maybe sometimes it is important to get out of your own head. I knew that and I still do. So, in that moment, I did what I wanted to do.
My lips met hers and the dry air that surrounded us turned electric. She was so darn soft and of course, smelled like cherries. As we fell into an ethereal rhythm of seemingly desperate touches, everything around us seemed to slow. I could feel the unfurling of lilacs and clean water rushing and in that moment, I was as pure as an untainted river. Every touch brought reassurance to every piece of golden brown skin. I was beautiful with or without a pretty girl kissing me, I was beautiful. “I love you,” I smiled, breaking the last kiss. Her lips brushed against my forehead as I had begun to giggle. “I love you. I love you. I love you.” My Lyla, my daffodil. Who would’ve thought?