Lilia closed her eyes. The bus was loaded with people returning from work. Even if it was 4 o’clock in the afternoon, the sun was shining bright, and it was so hot that it was difficult to breathe. People were sweating and standing very close to each other like sardines in a can. The passengers were very quiet, probably tired of the hot weather that hit Montreal. The only sound that Lilia could hear was the ringing of the buzzer. The grass was yellow, burned by the sun, the trees stood firm, and the branches pointed down as if they were trying to touch the ground and dye. It was the last week before the beginning of the school year. Lilia had a headache because of the heat. Normally, she would listen to music; by this day, she was thinking about Him…
The girl was supposed to meet Him today, they hadn’t seen each other for two weeks. Perhaps, two weeks isn’t that long, but when it’s your first serious relationship, it feels like an eternity. She was always criticizing soap operas; it made her laugh, the feelings of the characters seemed exaggerated and fake. However, everything changed the day she fell head over heels for Him. She was hoping to spend the rest of her life with Him. Her thoughts were naive, but at that moment, they seemed real. Lilia didn’t realize that by chasing her love, she was losing herself.
She was supposed to meet Him, only Him. That day, he also invited his best friend, his sister, and her boyfriend. Lilia didn’t mind because she didn’t want to fight again with him. They were going through a difficult period in their relationship. She hoped that this period would end and everything would be as it was before. Lately, they’ve been arguing a lot, sometimes they just seem to speak different languages. Lilia was always the one who apologized, even when it wasn’t her fault. Once, she decided to wait for Him to apologize first. As a consequence, he didn’t call neither texted her for several days.
Moreover, he often shared his problems with her, and she did her best to help him. However, when Lilia was telling Him her worries, he didn’t really care. He was always saying: “it doesn’t matter, that’s not a big deal. You shouldn’t complicate things”. Lilia was listening to Him and started to believe his words. From time to time, he criticized his girlfriend for the way she was thinking, how she was interpreting things, and even how she was dressing. Lilia ignored those things and never said that it hurt her because she idealized Him and hoped to create a perfect relationship.
Lilia didn’t really enjoy hanging out with his friends. They were making jokes that she didn’t understand, and they had different values and priorities in life. It’s always interesting to interact with people who share different interests and are from other cultures. However, when people have different values, it becomes a barrier.
Lilia started to feel uncomfortable. She was worried that something terrible was about to happen. Sunny rays were breaking through the bus window, but Lilia’s hands suddenly became cold and wheat. Usually, they were like that before an exam, but today she felt nervous when she had to walk off the bus. She wished she could close her eyes and wake up another day.
The girl saw Him at the end of the street. He was energetically gesticulating and laughing with his friends. The teenagers didn’t notice her. Lilia decided to come closer, her throat was dry, and she couldn’t say hello. They started to laugh as soon as they saw her. They were all wearing black sunglasses, and hers were pink. She felt lonely, but she also started to laugh; she was trying to be part of the group because he was there.
Together, they were wandering in the Old Port. Everyone was talking except Lilia. She didn’t really know what to say and how to jump into the conversation. Photos, the best friend of her boyfriend, was completely ignoring her. When she was walking next to Him, Phtonos stood between them and started to talk very loudly to catch others’ attention. Lilia felt lost, and her boyfriend seemed very far from her, even though there were only Phtonos between them. She imagined that someone was building a massive and high barrier between her and Him, as large as the wall of Berlin. The more time passed, the more difficult it was to cross that barricade.
The sky was turning grey, it was very humid, and while they were walking, it started to rain. Lilia suggested going to a restaurant. She was thinking of a good place where she celebrated her birthday a month ago. She didn’t’ remember the address, but Lilia had a developed visual memory. Normally, she could recreate the path in her head. This time she was so nervous that she went the wrong way, and the others followed her. She felt ashamed, and He became really mad at her because everyone was wet. Photos was really excited, as if he was waiting for this moment to happen. The evil companion started to walk away, and Lilia’s boyfriend followed him as if he was hypnotized.
Lilia was standing in the middle of the street. Next to her, the couple from their group discussed and tried not to make eye contact with the lonely girl. A few minutes later, the infernal duo returned. It continued to rain; the smell of asphalt was in the air, it was muggy, but Lilia’s hands were cold.
The group finally found a place where to eat. Everyone was enjoying their meal, Lilia lost her appetite. Her hair was wet, and cold drops of water were falling on her face. A passerby would probably think that she was crying. She was sitting next to the window. It was dusk. A bright celestial object caught her attention. Lilia imagined that it was a planet similar to the Earth. Lilia wasn’t listening, neither hearing the conversation of the people around her. She started to think that perhaps she came from another planet. This could explain why she didn’t understand people from the Earth. Lilia closed her eyes and imagined she was running across a purple field and smelling exotic flowers that only existed on her planet, called Noisulli.
Everything she imagined faded when she had to go to the ATM machine to withdraw some cash. When Lilia pressed a button on the machine, she found herself in a completely different place. She was standing on purple grass. She could freely breathe and smell the eucalyptus that was growing everywhere. The first thing she noticed was that people around her looked different from humans. Instead of having a heart, they had a piece of the puzzle. She observed that some hearts had a very simple form. Others were complex. Several hearts were big, some were small, some were red, others were grey and even black. Surprisingly, some people had a whole instead of a heart or that was missing a piece and had a lot of scratches. Lilia was fascinated. On Earth, when you meet a new person, you cannot understand what they are feeling. On this planet, it was different. By looking at one’s heart, you can imagine what they went through.
Lilia noted that the couples that passed by had hearts that formed a whole if they were put together.
Suddenly, the girl heard a constant, annoying ringing. She was standing in front of the ATM machine with her phone in her hands. It was almost 11 p.m., her mother was calling her. Lilia left the money. She heard the voice of her boyfriend who was calling her, but she opened the restaurant’s door and left. He didn’t follow her. Lilia threw her pink sunglasses away and disappeared into the crowd.
By Nataliya Nazarova