In the beginning, there were her hands. The five petite digits connected to her palms. They could flex and bend at her behest. They have touched and been touched, by others, in an endless variety of moments – tender, sweet, sour, lonesome, curious, entranced.
She remembers holding onto someone's finger when her own fingers barely wrapped around it. Holding onto the plastic and soft fluffiness of her toys and dolls, vrooming her pink bunny in the air like he's an airplane, a superhero – or having a crushed ladybug's stickiness on her fingers, one summer, when her parents were taking her out for a walk.
She remembers clutching onto her knee scrapes when she'd trip on the ground, crying, how it hurt and the grown-ups would bring her along for some band-aids, and she would feel all better after.
She remembers touching and feeling that boy's cheeks, her fingers slowly gliding over to his lips, where she gently and delicately rubs them, left and right to her own content, like skirting the top of creamy yogurt, and soon he would be sucking on the edges of her fingertips, and it would feel good and tingly (how does he find her?), and a little residue of his saliva would be left when she takes her fingers from him.
She'd caress him by the neck; it was quite a hot summer day, and his arm is over by her back, holding her there, and she'd gaze into his eyes – wondering what sort of things she could discern from his pupils, his blue irises.
And slowly, inching closer, they would at last touch their own lips, locking together.
His name is Marcus. She must have been aged 14 at the time, and it was when she was on the verge of graduating from secondary education. In that month, it felt like it was truly summer – the anticipation of the two-month long freedom, and maybe it was the heat in the air that was getting to her. Maybe it was the sparkle the other guys were barely hiding in the last days of classes. Whatever the reason was, she'd felt like kissing someone as a sort of goodbye parting, and it happened to be Marcus. He was somewhat popular, yet had the right sort of a modesty – he wasn't too involved in getting himself liked by others, he kept more to himself, while the girls were picking who to fawn over.
It was a spur of the moment thing, when after she'd finished her Mathematics exam that he was also leaving the exam room, and in the lonesome halls, she went over to him with a sudden fire and cajoled him to touch and kiss.
She had a strange fascination regarding sensuality. When she was in Lycée, she found the school uniform to be seductive in a way she couldn't discern – it was black with white stripes, including a pair of stockings that went beyond her knees. The fabric felt stiff against her breasts whenever she tried turning her upper body around, but she didn't really mind.
It was one day, when she was eating lunch alone outside under the tree,that she spotted a girl, looking around, as if not wanting to be seen. The girl didn't notice her sitting in the shadows, and so the girl went into the brick gazebo – the place usually reserved for outside band practise, or theatre rehearsals.
After she quickly finished her sandwich, she snuck over – what was that girl up to?
She took a peek. The girl was being pressed against the wall by one of the substitute teachers, deeply kissing each other, allowing their passions to go wildly as they moaned in their motions. The instinct was recognisably felt, and she watched the scene as long as she could, without them ever noticing her (she hoped). How tantalising. But the girl never met with the teacher here again afterward.
Amidst civilised society, the base human instincts would occasionally reveal themselves from the facade of politeness. She always adores this truth for some reason. There's a genuineness, a realness that touches her when she gets to see people reveal their naked selves, however briefly in their extreme moods and the sharp reactions that follow.
She's never been one to actively try and get along with others through the stilted courtesies. She knows the need to say hello or goodbye, but where they'd normally want to talk about mundane stuff like "I'm dancing to this overplayed song on the radio by such-and-such, it's so bubbly and addictive!" or the tidbits from daily moments such as "So, my friend apparently is into this game, and his bum is attached to his couch while he's beating this level--"
Instead, she'd perk her ear when the interesting things happen.
Whenever the dramatic moments come, they are treasures. There was a hustler who got onto the same bus she was riding, and started freestyling about Tony Montana and Travis Bickle, and how Anarchy should reign freely over the country, with free love and pot. The bus driver had to force him off at the next stop, even though he made things more interesting than just staring out the window. Then another day, the hustler came on the bus again, this time dressed as a priest, and he quoted passages from the gospel of John, vividly describing the resurrection of the lord Jesus the Savior, and it made the bus riders applaud with tears.
But nobody seemed interested whenever she got her chance to tell her own interesting stories; it always seemed a little off-putting to them, like she would lose people partway through her telling because it was too ludicrous or unusual for their tastes.
She would also have the sudden urge to start dancing, skipping down the hallways where other students would just walk and shuffle to their next period classes. And that was no good, as she started attracting the not-so-goodly kind of attention from people; the jockeys, uber-nerds, generally the sorts of people who had this brotherly love, cliquey instinct running through their very veins. She'd overhear conversations about herself, about how she might have SIDA, or having been loosed from the mental institutions, taking medications with side effects, and that someone should at least have the courtesy to fuck her so to bring her back from the clouds. She was a weirdo, an eccentric.
She had no intention of ever wanting to fit in, and be like them. If that was supposed to be the norm, and where poking at anyone strange was a goodly (as long as teachers weren't looking), then those chivatos and maricons, Tony Montana would say, they'll be meeting his little friend in hell.
Actually, she remembers having to throw punches when two of the debate club members tried shoving her against the wall, and they sniffed her over, all the while smelling like cheap body wash and hair gel. She tried poking one in the ribs with a closed fist, but it seemed that all that did was make him smile, like she'd merely tickled him, and he told her that proper punches involved putting your chest into it, the upper body strength – that which she didn't amply have, and so. She wound up giving his sidekick a nosebleed, before she was reeling on the linoleum floor, just freshly waxed, and she coughed blood while the jocks were running to the mens' washroom.
There was simply no point in trying to report it. One of the other outcasts suffered worse than she did, and when he went the lengths to seek justice for himself, the rumours spread about it, and he eventually landed several of the cool students onto probation – only to have himself effectively excommnicated from most of the other people. He'd mysteriously get poor marks in the class group projects, and the others would come up with nice, rationalised explanations to the teacher.
Lycéewas supposed to be a nice time for young people to get along and learn, to get prepared for the universities and real world. She thought of it more as a human zoo by any other name. It's the kinds of behaviours you'd see gorillas doing in the wild – in an atmosphere of competitiveness, of a kind of terrible insecurity actually, the males would rump their chests, trying to be the alpha males of their declared territories (cliques), so that all the ladies and beta males would flock over and give them groupie love. Those who don't connect with the tribe's norms are scapegoated and rejected; either ritualistically murdered out of example, or left to die outside. Nobody would ever mourn them. They are the same principles that underlie the world of prison inmates and crime organizations.
Even though she wound up withdrawn, and having to hold all the pain and tears inside (nobody would ever understand, no matter how much she'd explain) – she knew not to take it too personally. For they did not truly know her – it was more a projection of their insecurities onto her, that which they feared and loathed. And perhaps her so-called strangeness, that which separates her from those duckies.. it isn't strange.
After all, this ugly duckling was sheltering within herself a beautiful swan, while the other duckies grew to be plain yellow ducks, off and ready to join the corporate world at society's behest. If only there was a beautiful haven in the world for a swan to go to.
The only few people who really seemed nice were the kids that came over during house parties – when family friends would visit during the holidays, summer and winter. There, while her parents would be chatting with the other grown-ups, she'd be showing the kids the interesting things, like her tale on the local bus with the anarchist turned preacher. They had a sort of innocence. They were more open and jovial than the other people at school.
There was petite Pierre, who was five years younger than she – and Andre, who was one grade before her. They were mostly always there whenever the house parties were happening; she didn't really know the others' names – for some reason, she's not good with knowing (memorising) people's names, but she knows their faces and their general sensibilities though.
So she'd acquaint them with her collection of sample perfumes, those small, portable vials of captured scents, from which she'd obtain from the bouquet stores.For the hommes, she'd show them the eaux de toilettes (masculine scents) – one spray upon the neck is a nicely, while the fille counterpart is the eaux de parfumes (the feminine sweetness more suited for women). The kids, they would act like they were in a candy shop, and it delighted her so to be able to find their favourite scents from her collections.
Then Pierre would have his portable game system, where he'd be stuck trying to beat one of the Johto gym leaders in a decisive Pokemon battle. His face would be glued to the little, glowing screen. It's quite cute when he's laying on her bed. She'd practise giving him some back massages –while the other kids were either playing a game on her computer, or she'd put a movie for them to enjoy. Maybe it was no movie theatre (the default speakers had poor bass and tonal quality), but if it kept them enlivened, it's fine. She'd imagine this is how substitute teachers feel like when taking care of somebody else's class – it was actually fun to be able to watch over them.
Her first day in school, it was during the last days of summer, and it happened to be a substitute teacher watching over the class. When she came in, the teacher made her come to the front by the blackboard.
"Who are you?" the teacher asked.
She paused, feeling hesitation as their faces glanced at her. There was a quiver in her lips when she said, "Emilia.. LeBlanc."
And the teacher made her write her name down (so the others won't forget it), and the chalk felt dusty in her fingers as she made it screech over the blackness, and there her name was in shaky handwriting. She had to wonder if she could've wrote her name larger, more legibly, but her name was left on the blackboard for the duration of the class, like an embarassing scar, while the teacher wrote her stuff all around it.
And her cheeks felt blushy when her mama drove her home.
But at least.. it was a very pretty day, and she remembers the railway, the LRT train that always seemed to go by faster than her mama could drive – there was the music that came on the radio, and it would feel soothing just to be able to relax in the seat, seeing all the people on the sidewalks and the vendors, the mime tickling someone by the elbows.
When she rolled down the windows, the brush of wind was very nice, making her hair dance along with it.
Later on in life, she would search up those early songs over the internet – it would surprise her about how much she missed, like who the artists were and what the lyrics were really all about, like love and enjoying the most out of each day, like being misunderstood and gluttonying up on sweets at the store, hehe.
Oui – she'd delight in picking out the nice and goodly sweets from the counter, but as she soon discovered, it gave her a few holes in her teeth and she had to visit the dentist just so he could repair her cavities, as she'd lay down and the buzz and whirring of his drills was unbearable, and it always made her mouth feel a little stiff afterward, though lemony fresh. (She hated it whenever she had to get her gums numbed by injection; that meant it was a major crisis in her mouth, and the pain verged on being unbearable for a few days afterward.)
She'd tell these stories to the kids in her room – even opening her own mouth for them to look. A few of them might be a little grossed out, but the rest were fine with it.
And then, she would take them outside.
"Have them back by 10!" her parents told her, and that gave around two hours for her to take the kids down the neighbourhood.
The sunset.. it reminded her of the ranch on the outskirts of town, where her parents would visit occasionally to discuss some investment opportunities, and she would run through the endless field of grass, her arms wading, outstreched as if they were birds' wings, and she would close her eyes and feel the wind and the air through her velocity – without any fear of tripping or falling upon some obstacle. It would be beautiful.
Here, the sunset rang throughout the homes of her neighbourhood, and the rays would pass through the trees' branches, and she would be telling some light jokes with them while skipping along on the sidewalk. Pierre was still immersed with his portable game system, but he got into the mood of jogging with the others; it was a sort of race they were in now, and they were headed towards the galleria, that mall where there was an assortment of things to see, bouquet shops to visit, and an arcade bustling with young people getting feisty with the controls.
She told her parents that it would only be a walk to the park, but really – the park, there was only so much you could do over there. She'd save it for last, when she could have a bonfire lit and tell the spooky stories under the night.
"Alors!" she said to the kids, when they were by the galleria's parking lot. "Stay close with me, and be sure not to get lost inside."
The mall had a different air; she would usually visit by herself, or when her mama forced her to go shopping for additional clothing and flowers. But with the kids, she felt like she was the teacher who was overseeing the students during a field trip somewhere. 'Tis an exciting feeling, but it also made her more self-conscious of other people seeing her as a doofus.
She would be their tour guide, their leader, and the first thing she took them out to was the Belgian chocolate store – 'La Belgique Gourmade' the sign said above in red lettering. The store was nice enough to give samples of their chocolates, and she told the kids to keep more hushed, as she led them over to the section with hazelnut and almonds.
"Wait, are any of you guys allergic?" she asked them. "Like to peanuts? Chocolates?" and one of the filles told her, "I don't like peanut butter."
"No peanuts for you?" she went.
The store manager said, "If you're worried about peanut allergies, any chocolate without nuts is safe to eat. We make the nutty ones in separate facilities."
"Ooh," she went. "Goodie!"
She wound up paying 20₣ for the chocolates purchased; they'd already fattened themselves up on dinner earlier, but some of them wanted to immediately delight with their purchased sweets, so everyone went over to one of the tables, where they opened the boxes wrapped with gold ribbons, and she took it as an opportunity for a brief rest.
There was something delectable about the taste of chocolates; when they enter your mouth, and you chew them, it makes music upon your tongue. It wasn't just the sweetness though; the same sensation existed when you would kiss someone nice.
And perhaps.. subconsciously, she was acquainting them with the niceities in life – the niceities she'd find herself, that other people didn't seem to be aware about, so that the kids wouldn't grow up to be as dull and repressed as much of the adults she encountered. They'd think of her like a real life faery, with the good moments she could make with them, and it would insulate them against the pressures that would eventually deny them happiness.
She didn't want them to turn into the ugly duckies that populated her school. She wanted to preserve their unbridled joy, that happiness she saw radiating from them. Their innocence. Like Holden Caulfield from the novel Catcher in the Rye, where he would promise to catch the kids who fell from the cliff – they were so beautiful, playing in the rye, and they could fall down the cliff into that grey and dreary world they called adulthood.
At that moment, she was almost verging on being an adult herself. There was the independence – no one could really tell you what you could and couldn't do. There were deeper realms in relationships; what once was cuteness as she cuddled with her teddy bear, it turned into lust and longing for that one someone she could pour herself into, wanting to touch them all over, and be touched herself in ways she'd never imagined.
But there were also the pain and disappointments. Some of the people she once thought she liked, she turned out to loathe them as she saw that their niceness wasn't their true self. There was social pettiness – the rumours and gossip that would shame a person into isolation. There were neurotic people who instinctively hated her presence, for no reason other than perhaps that they find her strange and out of touch with their sense of normality. There was the inevitable boredom of following through imposed instructions, for the assignments and exams, the sake of getting passable grades out of fear of failing and being left behind.
But no matter what, as long as her heart kept beating on, she would promise to live her life through as long as she could. Behind the greyness and ugliness, she felt there were ounces of happiness and beauty to experience, no matter how rare they may be, no matter how obscured those treasures were beneath the facade of dust.
For her name is Emilia, and that is her. ("Emilia.. LeBlanc.")
Even if she has died in the hospital at Germany at the age of 24, forgotten her memories inside another realm, her body a mere replica of itself, she is Emilia, now and always.