Months had gone by after the fateful afternoon. Walls were put up to shield themselves from getting hurt. For the sake of love, they had holes in the walls, unknowingly, to help each other out. Their friendship went through a trying time. Everything took a turn for the worst and they were all torn between their expectations and facing reality.

Maya secluded herself completely from Lena. She was akin to a pearl in a clam, gleaming beautifully,feeding the temptation of others to be drawn to her. But when she senses danger or in this case, disloyalty, the clam shuts tight and it would take ages to pry it open. Her ego wanted nothing to do with the whole affair. It was after all their problem, not hers. Premarital pregnancy wasn’t something usual in their village and people would talk. It was Hiero’s reaction and the dreadful feeling that followed which she could never shake off. She should have revealed how hurt she felt and walked away completely. However, the love she felt for Lena was bigger than her ego. Looking after Lena and the baby became her sole priority.

Lena was constantly sick and had to put up with nausea throughout her classes. The presence of her younger students made her happy and she could put her worries aside. She had brought up marriage many times only to end up arguing terribly with Hiero. Of course Maya and her family would be their only guests. No, they didn’t need an expensive wedding. The old church would suffice and a simple ring was all she needed. Hiero evaded her pleas for the first week by melting her with his touch. He was then rarely at home, having taken up a second job to apparently support his new family. They couldn’t discuss or set a date and Lena has to think about ways to hide her growing belly. The other comfort she has was Maya, although the young girl was a little bit withdrawn. Lena couldn’t imagine a world without her best friend.

One late night when the rest of the village was asleep, Hiero was still wide awake. He watched the night sky from a window in his house. Tonight, it has to be tonight, he thought. The full moon watched him, wondering if he would change his mind at the last minute. A sharp knock on the front door put a stop to his chain of thoughts. “Who is it? ” he called out, never expecting the answer he would hear in return.

It seemed very unreal. Maya was now by the window, wrapped in a black cape with it’s large hood at the back of her neck. She looked beautiful under the moonlight and he couldn’t help but admire her. The white light highlighted her sharp nose,  dark eyes and full lips. Strands of her black, curly hair had escaped and fell around her face. For a short moment,he had forgotten all about Lena. Suddenly, he felt weak. The last months had been long and tiring. He was running away from the truth and he was now ready to spill his plan. “I’m leaving,” he said, looking at Maya’s feet. For the second time that night,  she surprised him by simply saying, “Finally. It’s about time.”

“I didn’t think.. It could happen.. I mean-“

“You know, Hiero, I was recollecting the stories you’ve told us about your travels. You spent a much longer time here than you ever did anywhere else. Why? Don’t tell me it’s because of Lena because we both know you don’t love her.”

 

“I do love her. Just not enough. I took-“

“Liar! You filthy liar! You gave her hope and you lied that you were saving up for the family. You were simply saving enough to run away! How could-” she screamed.

“Maya, stop. Do you remember the night we spent here with Lena? We spoke about our future,” asked Hiero softly.

“Yes, why? You took portraits of Lena and I individually under the moonlight to remember the night. What does that have to do with anything?” asked Maya suspiciously.

“And you remember my answer too? To tr-“

“To travel the world with the love of your life, HA! That rubbish,” she said and searched his room for the camera. Just then, the church bell rang once, it was 1 am.

Hiero reached under his bed and took out his rucksack. He rummaged through the contents and fish out an envelope. “I’ve sold it. Here take this. I have to go,” thrusting the envelope in he hands, he gave her a tight hug, whispered something in Greek and went out the front door.

Maya was shocked at how quickly he left. A part of her wanted to chase him and give him the beating she thought he deserved. She sank onto the cold floor,letting the envelope fall and cried for the first time since the pain she had felt that afternoon by the creek. She cried for the lost love between Lena and Hiero, the growing baby, the end of a beautiful friendship and her broken heart. When her cheeks felt dried and her eyes swollen, she stared at the photographs and a letter which had fallen out of the envelope. There were some of hers and Lena together, the photograph she took of Lena and Hiero and a portrait of Lena under the moonlight. Tears welled up again and threatened to pour. Maya quickly reached for the letter and read it.

Maya,

The best time of my life was the night we spent under the moonlight in my small home. I insisted on taking both Lena’s and your portrait to capture the moment. That was the night I discovered that all I wanted was to travel the world with the love of my life. I knew then, that it was never possible.

I’m sorry, but I can’t pretend or force myself to love Lena simply because of the baby. I’ve sold my camera and saved enough to provide for the first few months for them. You will find the money in the drawer by my bed.

These photographs are for you, if you want to keep them. I took something else from you. Because I want to travel the world with the love of my love. Now, you might understand why I stayed longer in this village. I’m sorry, I wish it worked out the way I wanted it to. Maybe then we didn’t have to end up like this.

Goodbye, αγάπη της ζωής μου.

Hiero.

Missing in that collection of photos was the portrait he took of her. Maya reread the last line over and over again. Goodbye, αγάπη της ζωής μου. That was what he said to her in Greek before leaving. He would travel the world with the photograph of her tucked away safely in his pocket. He never did love Lena. It was Maya all along. She was the love of his life.