HER NAME WAS SIMPLY EVA by Shabetei ()
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For a brief moment and for no particular reason at all, I thought of her today. Maybe it was the walk home. Maybe it was the warm breeze of the unseasonable weather. If I take my time to remember, I can bring the past before me as though it was just yesterday.
The memory brought to mind the smell of the wind off the lake and the sound of the tide at my feet. I feel the sun's heat like the summer I recall when I first met her. I can almost see her small elf like face beside mine in the water.
She was a very small and thin, fragile child of an age I couldn't determine. Her name was Eva and it suited her well. The unique petite features of her face were like those depicted in illustrations of children's books. She had a low raspy voice for a child and a strong accent and I never knew where she came from.
Occasionally I would visit her and watch over her, keeping her occupied while her mother worked about the house. I guess it could be said that I was baby-sitting her, but it was not a duty of labor but that of friendship. Being such a short lived acquaintance I can't even recall why I was there. I was still somewhat a child myself. There were some years between us in age, but not much in mind.
Most of the afternoons we spent together didn't seem in the style of other children's and I let Eva have full control of them. She didn't care to play with dolls or toys much, though her room was filled with them. They caught my attention; especially the richly dressed dolls from foreign countries that lined her shelves. Her bedroom seemed too elegant for a child's room, but it reflected the rich life style she was surrounded by. I felt she was more fortunate than most children with all the things she had, but she cared little for them.
One sunny day instead of going outside to play we sat leaning on the windowpane and gazing at the old spooky house of the neighborhood that we saw in full view from her window. We both longed to venture through that house and made up stories for each other as though we did.
Eva would lead me by the hand here and there around her house. Once she took me into her brother's room where she was told not to play. There she showed me what she called, "the neat stuff he had". She said he was going to school to be a doctor of some kind. She showed me two transparent plastic statues that he had on his desk. One was of a man and the other a horse. I felt uneasy looking at the red and blue organs and veins that ran through the vulgar figures. But Eva felt no discomfort by them. She just took one of her dolls and put it on the horse and shouted for it to "getty-up". I can remember holding my hand over my mouth to avoid laughing too loud. Eva made my uneasy feeling vanish, although I recall telling her we should leave the room. I think it was then that I realized I was getting older; when I could no longer feel the fantasy as Eva did.
Days were always too short while Eva and I were together and I can only recall a few well. Some days we mastered with imagination as though we visited other worlds. Other days we danced in the rain and tried to fly with umbrellas. But most of our summer days were spent combing the beach for treasures from the lake. The sand was always hot and the water always soothing and the sun would shine down into the water and make the treasures sparkle.
And now as my memory brings me to standing on the beach, it's our departing I remember vividly. For it was there that we would wander and tell our best secrets. It was there at the edge of the lake that we stood and allowed the tide to pull the seaweed back and forth between our toes, like cotton through a currycomb. And it was there that she told me she had to move away.
I remember the child still within me wanting to cry, but I was older and buried childish emotions. I felt sad and empty about losing my companion, but to Eva, moving was just another adventure.
We spent out last hour together laughing. We were laughing because Eva had told me her father had three belly buttons and I believed her. I had no reason not to believe her. Such a short lived moment and yet one of my strongest memories is Eva's laughter.
Eva made me laugh when she giggled and smile when she sang. I envied her liveliness and cherished the youth she had given me. But mostly I admired her childish wisdom.
The child within me will always remember the children I have met. And the memories of Eva remind me of a song. Now the winds from the past blow this verse through the back of my memory and it depicts Eva perfectly: "For I've seen children with faces much wiser than time; and you are most certainly one of this kind."
Eva in her delightful way with one hand on her hip and one atop her head danced a small dance around me and then she was gone.
(A true memory, vague but strong enough to need to be written)
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- Victorian House by JERRY HINDS
Image Comments (2)
jstro () 2:59PM | Sun, 28 May 2006
A well written and moving piece. It's sad how people who touch our hearts suddenly move away and leave a void, often never to be heard from again. You captured the friendship, and the void, perfectly.