Maya laid in bed, staring at the ceiling above while she dissecting the recent events. By now, her heart already has a gaping hole in it. Her best friend, Lena, who would sooth her wounds before, seems to enjoy rubbing salt on them instead. Maya knew she had to tell Lena the truth no matter how much it would hurt. She shut her eyes now and recalled the way her best friend had reacted.
Lena saw a pale-faced Maya entering her room one evening. They exchanged polite questions back and forth. It could be the pregnancy that made Lena more intuitive now. There was something bothering the young woman, she knew. The empty talks were a distraction or a strategy of paving the way before she explains the actual reason for her visit.
“Maya, what is it? Tell me,” Lena asked, or rather, commanded. Maya looked up slowly and met Lena’s gaze. She told her about Hiero leaving and left out the bit about her portrait and him not loving Lena. Maya wasn’t sure how she had expected Lena to react. She turned away as soon as she finished. Lena inhaled sharply and held her breath. “Leave,” she hissed. And that was the last time they spoke to each other. All those years and times spent together by the creek didn’t play a part anymore. Maya turned and left, not even bothering to close the door.
Tossing and turning in bed now, Maya turned to her side and thought about the news she received from Lena’s mother this afternoon. It was a healthy girl, Theodora, who was born 2 weeks ago. The first stab to Maya’s heart. Lena had waited two weeks to tell me?, she thought silently. The older woman’s closed fist and Maya’s open hand met halfway between them. The chain Lena always wore exchanged hands and Maya looked at her full of questions. “Lena left to a teaching school abroad. Theodora has been given up for adoption,” said the older woman as Maya welcomed the second stab. “Lena left a message for you. I don’t know what it means. She said, ‘I know’,” Lena’s mother hoped Maya could explain the meaning behind her daughter’s sudden departure. Watching the young woman staring at the pendant was all she received as an answer. So, she left Maya to tend to her wounds.
It was late night by the time Maya stopped reliving the memories. The sun was long gone and the moon shined bright in the sky. Maya was wide awake, her mind empty save for one word playing repeatedly like a broken record. “Meraki. It means you do something things with love, passion and a lot of soul,” said Hiero once. “Meraki… Theodora…,” Maya said out loud to the empty room. For the first time after all the pain, she smiled. That night, she slept with the chain around her neck, the pendant clutched in her hands and a plan for the future.
Theodora realised she had been holding her breath all along. She puffed her cheek and exhaled loudly. There were dried trail of tears on her cheeks and she felt them as she buried her face in her hands. Theodora was lost for words. Inhaling deeply numerous times to calm herself down, she managed to ask Maya, “Why? Why did you look for me and bring me up from the shadows? You didn’t have anything to do with me. Why, Maya?” The private scholarship, the vacant cafe, the job at the bakery were all made available to her because of Maya. She had anonymously paid for Theodora’s tuition fees and kept the place vacant until Theodora could afford it.
“Because I love you as my daughter,” said Maya gently and Theodora felt a mother’s love for the first time in her life. Fresh tears fell from her eyes. “But… if that was the last time you spoke to her, how did you know she died?” asked Theodora. Maya smiled and toyed with the pendant. She chuckled and her eyes shined brightly. Looking up, her gaze fell on her favorite pair of eyes. Theodora had, after all, inherited them from Lena.
“I do not wish to carry secrets to the grave, I might as well tell you. My father once said, that we leave a small fragment of our souls with our loved ones. The size of these fragments depend on the love we share. That is how we know, if our loved ones are unwell. Or you can call it intuition. Lena has half of my soul. I have 2 fragments of hers – our friendship and you. Back then, it would be deemed insane if things could happen the way I wanted. Things have changed now. I’m beating around the bush, aren’t I? I loved Lena. That was the reason why I never got married. She wasn’t just my best friend, she was my soulmate. Lena was the love of my life – she still is and will always be. I felt it this morning, the familiar pain – pain of loss. I just knew she was gone.” With that, Maya felt a tremendous weight lifted off her shoulders and she cried. She cried for lost love, unexpressed love and the love she has for Theodora. Lena is gone forever, but she lives in Theodora and that was enough for Maya.
He wished every night for the same thing no matter where in the world he was. Under the moonlit sky, he would shut his eyes and pray. At this age, he had lost all hope for it to be fulfilled. Hiero had gone to bed the night before, uttering the same mantra. That afternoon, he went on his usual walk to the fateful creek. Despite old age, he was still fit, thanks to the activities in his youth. Patting the left breast pocket to make sure his wallet was still there, he took his walking cane and headed to the creek. Two female voices greeted him from the other side of the trees as he neared his favourite spot, where the three of them had spent their summer. Not wanting to bother them, but curious as to who could be here since the spot was well hidden, he walked quietly and peeked from the back of one of the tree trunks.
For a moment, Hiero thought he either dead or had gone crazy. Of course it couldn’t be Lena, he thought, but her eyes! He then turned to see the companion of the young woman. He held his breath as his gaze fell on the older woman. All those daily, late night wishes and rehearsed speeches of apologies vanished. Spellbound just like the first time he had seen her with Lena that summer, he couldn’t move. It was too late, his cane had fallen against the trunk and onto the ground. She had turned to face him, her eyes locked on his. Oh, those eyes he had longed to see again during his travels! “Maya,” he managed to whisper. Theodora recognised him instantly from the photographs and couldn’t believe she would be seeing her father after all these years. A new chapter has now begun for the three of them.
You can read the other chapters of Meraki here. 🙂
For those of you who have followed this story, thank you! I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you’re here for the first time, HELLO! I’m Ema & I love to write. Do check out my other posts. Cheers xoxo