The first time I saw you, you had liquid emeralds for eyes and they desired me. They lusted over my thick hide and rich meat that could save your family for the winter. So when I felt the cold steel of your knife pierce through me, I did not fight back. I let you take my life so you could save yours.
The first time I remembered you, your hair was slicked back but a lone, stubborn curl refused to cooperate, making my left hand itch. You smiled at me, flashing a dimple, and called me, “Ma‟am.” And oh, how eager you were to fly. So I watched. I watched you join the biggest con game on earth—war, just to leave the ground for a while. I also watched as your plane was blown into smithereens.
The first time I knew I loved you, you did not exist. I looked for you in the sky, in the ocean and in every nook and cranny of the land. I married a girl with freckles and had twins. While I was happy, I knew I would always wait for you.
The first time you found me, I knew the wait was going to be a part of my lives. I opened my eyes and there you were, smiling, as if you knew, too. We broke our mother’s body but she loved us with every bone she had, nonetheless. That was one of my happiest lifetimes; chasing shadows, getting into brawls and learning every line on each other’s palms. But the best part would always be waking up every morning, certain of your love for me.
The next time I met you, we were both adults and life had come first. I was hard, ambitious and stern—more so than you. You managed to keep that reckless glimmer in your eye somehow. While it was easy for you to discard your armor, mine was molded deep into my skin. You took your time anyway, as if making up for the other lifetimes. And before I knew it, you left galaxies between my thighs and unmade every lesson life had taught me.
Some lifetimes, I would find you with your heart in another soul’s hands. To watch you kiss your wife to work and dress up as a ridiculous Santa to your kids’ delight was an exquisite joy on its own. But to watch you wait for the grinning boy incapable of happiness in Pinto was the second hardest thing I ever had to do. He did not arrive and yet, years later, there you still were.
Other lifetimes, we never even meet. I learned not to look for you in a child’s laughter, a model’s hips and a scent in the train. I just had to be so you can return to me just as I would return to you always.
But for now, I am content to have you in my arms, your dark hair spilling over your pony tail, tickling my nose. “Which was your favorite?” you ask. I look up at the vast emptiness of the universe and trace my fingers over your night skin. “Different bodies, same souls. Same love.”
Viel is a BA Communication Art student at the University of the Philippines Mindanao. She is now on her fourth year and will graduate on June.