She was absolutely gorgeous, and yet, the myriad and countless pictures of her that I captured deny the fact. The albums are mournfully misleading, only evidence of her forays into unfamiliar territory. All I have are my wisplike fickle-fallible memories and a few morbid mementos to remember who she was. Despite her complexity, her individuality and her inspiring standards, one of the most important lessons she taught me is that when you meet that one person, her absence is tolerable given time and ample distraction. Never forgettable, just tolerable.
I vaguely remember her political and literary stances, her stubborn and elite taste, and her insatiable monologues barked in artistic stacatto, sharp words angled against a fat leatherbound sitting open on her lap. She emanated a brand of corrosive intelligence that made my frail psyche quail in submission; she never needed to convince me that she was right. She inevitably was. I never managed to extinguish her inhuman libido with my sexual appetite, but somehow, she always managed to make me explode in no time with a few fluid motions with her mouth. Her beauty was raw and spartan, and her frowns were far more endearing than her smiles were; they made me crazy and hot because they unclothed the fervid woman within her, undid the elaborate dresses that masked her toned flesh and unforgiving personality. Her soft curves and hard lines. Being with her reminded me of hot, feverish nights and sunny afternoon breakfasts.
I never told her why she made me salivate in hunger – that she was a ravishing connoisseur of music with a taste for Jane Austen and an incorrigible thing for brown men. Maybe she already knew. I remember her well and not by choice. Everyone else I’ve known has been so bland and plain beside her. She sang such haunting songs, she wrote such pretty words and it’s unfortunate that then – the present – wasn’t another chapter in a fairytale. Unless the story was about how all good things end.
But when she attempted to smile for the camera, she looked suddenly unsure, suddenly aquiver. Her teeth poked out frightened and insecure in little clumps of white that peeked further every time she tried to smile harder. Her eyes scrunched in a mocking caricature of their normal, affectingly fierce gaze. That piercing stare went with her chic wit like high heels go with haute couture and long legs, but it is nowhere to be seen in these pictures. It upsets me that they show her grimacing, trying to be someone she was not, someone she was not capable of being, and someone I could never love. The images are a false memory, serving only to remind me of someone I never knew. I’m slowly accepting as I sit here with my scrapbooked memories, that she never talked to the camera like she did to me, that it was her anger and her passion that made me feel alive as I doused the flames with soothing words and mumbled affirmations. I heard her question several times that final fiery night. It was the same question she consistently asked every time I pointed the camera at her. Should I smile?
I always shook my head at her. Look angry. Look like the Amazon you are. Still, she smiled. Now she is gone, and all I have are these lying polaroids lying around my desk drawer. It is tolerable. Barely.