The following is a short story I wrote, called ‘Liza and Jude’. It means a lot to me, and I hope you enjoy reading it.
The soft glow that had been lingering all evening seemed to disappear in one swoop, all the adventure suddenly gone from within Liza as the sun disappeared, only to be replaced with aching limbs and a softly beating heart. She had no more enthusiasm left to give, had nothing left within her at all. And it didn’t make sense and it was all too much, and yet, as she looked at Jude, she knew that it would somehow fit into the scope of all things them.
Liza hadn’t realised that she had lowered herself down into the tall grass; dinosaur grass, Jude always called it; or that he could only see the very top of her head peeking out from the strong blades that had formed a cage around her body.
She didn’t know that when Jude looked upon her, he saw a rare and beautiful bird that he had to treat with caution; a wild thing that would become aggressive if he moved too fast, though anxious if he moved away. She was a phoenix; breathtaking yet breath giving at the same time. How many times he had caught himself mesmerised by her odd sort of beauty; the beauty that takes a few minutes before actually becoming truly beautiful.
She would turn to ash the moment you wanted her to the least. She would fall, and fall magnificently. And then she would push herself off the floor and fly with hope in every sweep of her wings. Jude didn’t know strength until he knew her, nor gentleness of the same kind. He was completely and utterly enamoured by her, though to whom he would ever admit that to he was unsure.
She lifted her head as though God’s hand itself were beneath her chin, and saw Jude’s navy T-shirt through windows in the grass, small pockets into a world suddenly far from her own. With her head lifted towards him, she could hear the ocean. Hear the waves roar in their majesty; united in their stand and yet somehow still managing to crash against each other in their wild temperament.
She saw the colour of toast, too, as his hand reached down to help her up, as his bare feet came to a standstill beside her crossed legs. She hadn’t known any man to be beautiful until she had met him, until she had seen the passion in his eyes and the grace in every movement; from the long strides he took as he walked, to the way he looked through the lens of a camera.
And Liza liked the look of him, in that small moment between breath, in that distance between his hand reaching for her own. She liked Jude in the time it took for him to help her up, a brush stroke of wonder. And she liked him in a way that makes you think she didn’t like him at all.
“How did we become friends?”
The sky was dissolving from blues to pinks to purples, awaiting the oncoming night, the moon yearning for a standing ovation. It was then that Jude asked the question. And it was a question that Liza knew the exact answer to, because she had often asked it herself. It was a song well sung, a dress well worn.
Liza-and-Jude, Jude-and-Liza. The names became known as a single word upon the realisation that Liza and her many peers from school wanted to live life in different tangents. Isn’t that how discontentment usually begins? When one conversation closes and you will another to open? The quickly coming end to high school and the never ending questions about what your future holds; a cycle that quickly entangles those in the tender twilight of eighteen years of age. Liza and her peers had lived life in one conversation throughout all of high school, bursting forth from the same words that created like-mindedness and commonality.
And then it was over, and their conversation turned dull, because there were no assignments or teachers or crisp white blouses keeping it together. Liza would look back with a vague smile on her face, but not much else. The memories were simply there, like blue tac on the wall that you see every day without really noticing. Every now and then you dwell on the matter, maybe at two or three am, trying to scrape off the remnants. But you never quite get around to peeling off the whole thing, because it’s engrained. It’s the new normal, and soon you forgot how it got there, or that it was you who placed it there in the first instance.
That’s how Liza and Jude became friends. Upon leaving high school, they found each other, and they made a conversation that needed no seasoning. They simply wanted to speak the same language for the rest of their lives.
They were watching the sea as their conversation took place. The water shined differently at night to how it did in the day. Shined in a way that could only be described as fractured and blue and silver. Liza didn’t know if Jude saw the ocean in the same way that she did, but somehow that was okay. Her toes splayed in the sand before curling into it, matching Jude’s expression of discovering the sea for the first time, a child unsure of how to react to the feel of the tide coming and going, to the waves that are a consistent source of change, a rage of organised chaos.
Something within her wanted him to keep asking deep questions, a part of her wanted awkward eye contact.
But neither happened, and neither continued to speak. Invisible hands covered their mouths, forcing them to swallow their words until the letters turned to butterflies in their stomachs. Jude didn’t know that she was waiting, that she was calling. And it was all inside, and no one else knew, but she had never screamed so loud in all her life.
Their silence wasn’t an easy silence to be in, like all of the ones they had shared previously, but forced upon them in an untimely manner. But they both accepted it in a way that only they could, and so it went on.
What Liza didn’t know, was that when she was silent, the world wept. And because she didn’t know that, not yet, the world wept for yet another night as she kept it all inside, over thinking the words she wasn’t saying out loud.
Thanks for reading,