Before we moved inland, I had a friend I’d never been without. For now, we’ll call him Taorem, though his real name is so much more beautiful.
We were born in the same hospital, in the same month, the same week. We practically lived in each other’s houses, shared families even. This meant that as children we were almost inseparable. Yet we were often kept apart. We could hardly spend half a day without launching into an explosive fight – mostly verbal, sometimes physical. So we were separated – “for our own good.”
Really, all we were doing was marking our territory, laying down the boundaries – we shared so much that it was often unclear to us what belonged to the other.
Throughout our early years, we spent much of our time creating new worlds to explore – urban jungles in the park or rich forests under our duvets. However, it wasn’t long before everything changed. In fact, it wasn’t long after our young childhood freedom and innocence was stolen by the enforced conscription of education that our world collapsed. He had to leave – to be with his family Taorem had to follow his parents to a strange country, a different world that seemed a lifetime away. Along with his brother, he walked away from the only place we knew.
Only a couple of years later I too had to follow my family to the land she grew up in. It was as strange to me as any foreign country I’d been to – there were no beaches, no seaweed, no seagulls. How could I live somewhere so far from the untamed wildness of the sea? How could I belong here?
But part of me was glad to have left behind the empty memories of joy I’d had on the coast. Without Taorem I felt I was somehow missing something, like I’d lost an important part of life, but being so young I had no idea what this was, what it meant. With this new land came the possibility of new life and the chance that I could work out what it was I was missing, solve this puzzle that twisted my young mind into knots.
When we were little, our parents joked that we were an old married couple. Now I wonder whether they were witnessing the beginnings of an eternal bond. Of course, I have no idea whether he still thinks of me, or if he’s found the thing I’ve always been searching for since he left. I thought I’d found it once but I must have been lying to myself.
After Taorem left, I didn’t realise that part of me had followed him to his new life. It resides with him, whether he knows it or not. I try to call it back but it refuses, still clinging to him and the hope that one day he might return. It never will come back to me unless I somehow manage to unhook its claws from the empty promise of his reappearance.
We were young, so young, that I never knew what it was that I felt for him – Taorem was like my brother and yet he was so much more than that. I could never explain how it was but I’d always thought that nothing could keep us apart – even through the strained efforts of teachers to separate us we always ended up together somehow.
And now, sometimes it’s all I can do to stop myself thinking of him – seeing him, hearing him, feeling him.
If he doesn’t remember there’s nothing I can do, but I can never forget Taorem.