by Jiana Abela Nakashima
This was going to be my last entry to you, Molls, as I have been debating for some time, of joining you. Honestly, while simultaneously hating you and wishing you were here for me to throw all your stupid books, CDs, and eyeshadow pallets at you, while screaming in your face of what a jackass you are for leaving me. But still, I wanted to be right there with you from the moment I found out you were gone, and the intensity of that urge has only grown since. As much as I would still like to, I met a strange man, yes, a man, that said a few wise words which changed my mind. It wasn’t just what he said, it was what he did, and the strange tingly feeling I can’t express, which took my fears away. I’ll explain eventually. And don’t give me the look I know you’d give me. The one where you’d tilt your head a little to the right, squint your eyes, raise an eyebrow, and grin a little. You always loved newness. Adventure. Thrill. Strangeness. That was always you and never me, but I guess all our time spent together meant a little of you rubbed off on me, the stickler. And yes, I am taking his advice. It was good advice! You’d be so proud of me diminishing skepticism. You’d be smirking, practically on the brim of laughter at me now. Ah, Molls. Anyway, let me start from the beginning.
Today was the most mundane, pitiful, awful day ever. While I’m aware that I used those same three words to describe yesterday, I guess we can both just be disappointed with the monotonous nature of this horrid life that I have been living. I woke up again with the same stupid thought, what’s the point of getting up? Really, Molls, I could’ve slept forever with no care in the world. There’s nothing to live for, nothing to smile about. Dragging myself, internally kicking and screaming, to school, my day dove further into the pit of hell. High school sucks. See, part of me understands why you left every time I enter the building. Watching all the little demons walking around they laugh, stop, and glare at me, then laugh again with their little sidekicks. Every time. It makes me sick. But the fact that you left me here in hell alone makes me practically bedridden. How could you?
So, I walked drudgingly to class just to sit in the same prison, cell-like rooms. The same white, brown stained walls taunted me as the lights beamed down blindingly. Ms. Crawley stood at front with a stoned face, book in hand as though it were a gun instead. You know her, that crazy, old, wrinkly, ruthless woman. Never a cracked smile or kind word from her. Most the room glanced at me with panicked and pitiful expressions, then they quickly darted their eyes after a few seconds. Typical responses since you’ve been gone. Then walking my way were the same few hags, literal depictions of scum-on-earth. They passed notes around me this time, whipping their heads back with laughter after looking down at me. Probably mocking my mangled and dry curly hair. Or, laughing again that my clothes are outdated, dirty, dingy. They never cared that Molls was gone, never cared that my I cried every night. I spaced out and imagined that they were all burning in the dungeons of hades they probably called home.
School finished at the same time, and I drove home with the same feelings of dread that lingered from the moment I woke up. Passing the same, boring streets, my head spaced into dwelling on the hatred everyone at school felt toward me. I began talking out loud to you, “Molls, they hate me so much. You were the only one that didn’t hate me. We did everything together. All our science classes were together, remember we both wanted to be doctors? And we ate lunch together every day, picked on Mr. Roberts, the janitor, while loving the side eyed smirks he gave us. No one hated my sweaters, glasses, and jeans, because they were always balanced out by your corduroy pants, long sleeved V-necks, shell necklace, and pretty face of makeup. You didn’t take snide comments. You didn’t tolerate any attempt of bullying your way, or others for that matter. You didn’t even care if anyone hated you, your skin inches thick. Molls, you had edge, and I had nothing. I still have nothing. Walking down the halls, no one glared when you walked but instead, they admired you. Because of that, I was tolerable. You left. Now, I’m hated. No one even knows me, and how can they hate someone they don’t know?! Molly Janice Smith, I hate you. I know you, and I hate you.”
I swear I took it all back. I was saturated in guilt the rest of the 28-minute drive back as frustratingly slow, hot tears slid down my face.
When I opened the door, Dad gave the typical “Hey hunny” from his chair in the front room. While I heated up the plain angel hair pasta from the fridge, Mom went on about a million different parts of her day, then as if remembering that I’m the child, she asked how mine was. Gave the typical “oh, it was great,” which she took like usual, I then left the room and sat with dad, staring at the TV which played the most recent NFL football game as I added cheese to my pasta. Mom hovered, obviously feeling bad, and wanting to say something else but, like usual, couldn’t get it out. I ignored her, left my plate in the sink, and went to my room.
Molls. This is the part of the story where I broke but also found hope. Keep up the best you can.
After sitting in silence for a bit, just staring at my wall of CDs by our favorite band, The Black Keys, it hit me. I’ve talked to you so much in my head, out loud, in writing, I figured it was time for me to come find you, be with you again, so we can talk in person. As angry as I am that you left, I need to know more. I need a reason. Why did you leave? You said your parents’ divorce wasn’t that bad… you always seemed to be okay. What made you leave? What was it that pushed you over the edge? How could you leave me? I’m tired of being exasperated and stuck in the middle of hating you and knowing that I need you, Molls. Life has been too lonely without you.
The room felt suffocating, and I just needed some space to think. So, I left the house at 9:12pm, smirked remembering that we named my old hunk metal, Sue, and drove to where you last were.
Pulling up the hill to the mountain we so often drove to while looking city lights, giggling about boys you’d flirt with, or boys I’d never talk to, and singing our hearts out to Whitney Houston, my breath hitched. This drive will never feel the same. Overcome by confusion, feeling abandoned, betrayed, resentful, the once bright lights blurred and once cheerful music fazed out, all dulled by the withering, uncontrollable sobs that overtook my body. Streams of salty tears gushed from my eyes. Shrieks of panic filled the car, becoming the only thing audible. I couldn’t anymore, Molls! A million thoughts whirled in my head, an anthem of voices urging me to accelerate.
Now muttering, “Everyone hates you, Addison. No one speaks to you. You’re not important. Molls was the only one loved. Molls was the only one that listened. Molls is gone! MOLLS IS GONE!”
Speeding up, headed straight for the brightly painted, year-old wooden fence that separated the parking stall from the edge of the cliff, I drove straight toward it, just as they all said you did, relentless and screaming at the top of my lungs. Here’s to figuring out the ‘why’s’. Here’s to being seen by someone again. Coming to you, Molls.
That was, until I heard your voice. A clear, confident, calm,
“Stop.” My foot slammed the brake, body violently leaching forward, as my head hit the steering wheel, drawing some blood, but luckily with not enough force to make the air bag go off. My body had gone into autopilot, foot moving from the right pedal to the left, and abruptly stopped the speeding car I was racing.
I cried out “Molly.” Again and again, in a havoc, tears streaming with no stop in sight.
Okay, I know this will seem really out of nowhere, but then the strangest thing happened. I’m over here sobbing in the car, alone in the parking lot, at least I thought, when suddenly, I get this tiny little knock on my window. Don’t ask me why I rolled it down, but I did. Just a little! A tiny crack big enough so I could hear what the dude standing outside my car had to say. The tall, and lanky man wore blue jeans, white converse, with a grey hoodie pulled so far over this head that his face wasn’t visible. So, so, creepy. This isn’t the man I first mentioned, but simply the one that directed me of him. You’ll see. So, yes, I listened to what this guy had to say. Which wasn’t much. Actually, he didn’t say anything at all.
All he did was drop a small, green covered book into my car. Molls, it was freaky. Hardly breathing, anxiety blaring, I froze. You, being the strong one would’ve fought this guy or at least have thrown the book out of the window but me, you know how I am, I froze, and well, mouth slightly agape, I let the green, thin little booklet sit in my lap – glanced down at the title “Susurro Amoris” and when I looked up, dude was gone. Vanished. There wasn’t even a car around!
At home alone, heart suddenly racing, breathing uncontrollable, I rolled the window back up, put Sue into drive, and sped home. Once back in my room, I began pacing. Here’s my thoughts: If he wanted to drug me, I would’ve passed out by now. Or be dead. Okay, maybe there’s something dangerous inside? Open the book, don’t open the book. Throw the book away.
Finally letting curiosity win, I hesitantly took the book, “Susurro Amoris” and flipped it open to the first page, a small section of contents. It was like this,
“The Susurro Amoris”
Ways of the Susurro Amoris
Truth in Susurro Amoris
Find the Susurro Amoris
Life of Susurro Amoris.”
Molls, it seemed so familiar. You’d be so proud of me when I remembered your love for Latin. The strange, weird interests of yours that you’d try to rub off on me was finally useful, as I pull out the Latin book you gave me for Christmas. Which was a horrible gift, by the way. Flipping through the dictionary section, I found the “Susurro” as Whisperer, and “Amoris” as love. If it weren’t for the mystery and strangeness of it all, I would’ve giggled at the strange name.
Reading through the tiny book, it confused me. Apparently, the book was claiming that there was something more to live for than just the life we have here. The Susurro Amoris, whisperer guy, was basically the main point of the book. Supposedly, he held the key to peace, and happiness. The book went through promises kept by the guy, and kind words spoken to broken people, and they were healed. It was too good to be true, but I wanted to hear it from him. I wanted to see him, hear him, try to figure out for myself if the words could be true.
I just had to find him, Molls. It was 12:49 a.m. by this point, but that wasn’t going to stop me. I was desperate for answers, and in need of knowing why your voice had stopped me, why this book was given to me, the truth about this book, and if it was worth living for. If he didn’t have answers, it would’ve been straight back to you Molls. I had to go.
See, the book mentioned the guy talking on a mountain. So, the National Park made sense in the moment because it was the only place, I could think he’d meet me at. He sounds unearthly in the book, maybe somehow, he’d know about my search of him and meet me there. It was a sliver of hope, magnified by sorrowful loneliness and desperation which drove me to Umatilla National Forest, about an hour from Elgin. He mentioned being some sort of fountain, so, I was headed toward the main waterfall at Umatilla. I know what you’re thinking that I’m crazy. Molls, I just had to go see if he’d be there. Meet me anywhere.
Driving there, everything was racing again. The car, my thoughts, the rain along my window. Thundering along in rhythm with the speed was my heart, my breathing, the blasting music. The hour drive was a blur of my mind tangled with doubt and apprehension.
“Will he be there? Is he real? What will I do if I find no one.” Then the fears,
“Mom is going to kill me. She won’t be the one to do it. It’s so dark here. What if he’s not the one I find?” And Molly, the sadness didn’t go away,
“Molly, I miss you. It’s been a year and my heart aches. I can’t do this. There was no better friend and I feel so alone.”
I kept driving, as my thoughts continued spiraling. Tears induced by panic and hopelessness dribbled down my face, as I pulled into the pitch-black parking lot of Umatilla National Park. I took a shaky step out of the car, body trembling in the darkness as the eerie quiet of nothingness creeped around me, looming dramatically over me, around me, at every turn. I remember throwing on another jacket, shivering, pulling on my backpack, shining the light on my map, and descending the path that led to the waterfall.
Molly, I walked through the forest for what felt like hours. I was treading the park in circles, I know it. It felt like that walls were caving it, the trees, darkness, and suffocating cold was closing in around me. Eventually, giving up, I couched down into a ball and began sobbing. There was no Susurro. And every fear was becoming a reality as I sat in the darkness, lost, afraid, hopeless.
Then, as if I were imagining it, light began to peek through the ridges of the looming mountain in front of me. A soft and gentle, yet dazzling, yellow glow began to illuminate the starry black sky. New oranges, pinks, and the soft yellow brushed against the black and dark blues.
When there was enough light to finally see where I was at, I gasped at the beauty I quite literally stumbled upon. The trees glowed, brushed ever so lightly by the new rays of light, revealing intricate dark brown trunks patterned with slivers of light brown, looking like beautifully healed scars. Intricate, raw, strong. Their leaves, detailed in an interwoven pattern of a soft quilt-like, fern green. The leaves and branches were stretched high above me yet loomed gently in a soft arch tenderly falling around me. When I finally looked straight ahead, an iridescent waterfall, seeming stand-still, looming gorgeously in front of me, seeping lightly and without a sound, into the glass-like, body of water circled around the waterfall.
Stunned by the magnificence of what was around me, I was no longer thinking. Molly, I forgot about you. I wasn’t afraid, wasn’t sad, simply in awe. It was untroubling, tranquil. My neck was tilted back, as I aimed my eyes up to admire again, the dainty leaves interwoven above me. Fixated on the place I stumbled upon, I had completely missed the man walking extremely close to the water, almost on the water it seemed, but I blinked my eyes a few times, and reassured myself that he must have been on the rocks along the edge. He walked toward me, humming a pleasant melody, with his head turned up as he watched the sunrise. I swear, Molls, he looked like an angel. It wasn’t his oddly normal clothes, blue jeans, white t-shirt, and brown boots, but it was the angelic way he walked, how he moved, turned, glowed in the tiny glimmers of sun. As if hearing my comments on his appearance, he turned, and smiled a genuine and warm smile toward me.
“You must be Addison.” There was no guess, no hesitation, no stammer in his voice. It was as if he sung every word in a celestial pitch, I couldn’t have placed my finger on. Despite the soothing nature of his tone, my body began to tremble, and my mind began it’s spiral… how did he know my name?
“Don’t be afraid. I’m the one you came to find.” My mind went blank, as I sat staring in awe and unceasing fear.
“Susurro Amoris.” He then walked over to where I sat freezing, huddled on the floor, leaning into a tree and sat in front of me, closer to the water in a little pool of sunlight. The bright beams twinkled on the water, making the scene look utterly magical behind him.
“You come to me burdened, heavy, broken, and my heart mourns with you, for you. I am so sorry that you have grieved and suffered alone all this time.”
This man didn’t know me. Yet he spoke my name and empathized with my pain. He sat there and waited or my response as his light brown eyes stared tenderly into my deep brown eyes. He seemed genuine, unrushed. His words were comforting, and for the first time in a year since you’ve been gone, Molls, I felt like someone cared. There was nothing I did, no words, no actions, no relationship built up, and in two simple sentences, I just felt seen.
I broke. Huddled up with my knees to my chest, face bent down, and slowly rocking, sobs spilled out uncontrollably. I didn’t have it in me to acknowledge the man, apologize, or try to speak, I just sat there and cried, unmoving. By the time all of it had practically left my body, I could hear him breathing in front of me, slow, and steady. He sat there the whole time. With my head still down, but normal breathing finally returning, I heard him humming a beautiful melody. I wondered what song it was when he said,
“It is well with my soul.”
“I-I, I’m sorry?”
“The song I’m humming. It’s called It Is Well With my Soul.”
“Oh. It has a beautiful melody.”
“Yes, it does. I love the piano accompaniment with this piece. It is delightful. Now, what are your questions, and why have you sought after me?”
“Well, it kind of requires a story…”
Molls, I practically told him everything, and I talked for what felt like hours. But once I finished with the expression of everything that had been on my mind since you left, oh my goodness, I felt relieved. Lighter. It didn’t just end there. He began to tell me stories of beautiful fairy-tale like heroistic characters that slayed giants through supernatural strength. He spoke beautiful poems, and stories of selfless characters that gave all their money as tokens of humility, charity, love. The softness of their hearts, their openness and willingness made them stronger. The more he spoke, the more I understood that he was a key figure in many of the stories, but never spoke directly about himself.
He was just a stranger about an hour ago. Then I realized as he sat before me, that he was beginning to know me more intimately than anyone else ever has, and still, he smiled, reassured, and made me feel loved.
“Your life has meaning, Addison. It is not your time yet, keep pressing on. There is hope amid the darkness, and a light at the end of the tunnel”
Spoken every so gracefully, I knew I had done nothing to deserve such kindness. It seeped into the core of my being and made me smile for the first time since last November.
He then stretched out his hand, seeming like a sort of invitation, a gesture toward acceptance.
What was probably a good five-minutes of my wary stare toward his hand, he remained still, waiting for a decision from me. Then I was sure,
Placing my hand in his, suddenly I was standing and being led toward the natural pool. Warm, sweet-smelling water had greeted my toes, then my body, as we began to swim toward the waterfall.
Stopping on a rock in the middle of the little pool, nearest to the waterfall, we stood there, watching the slowness make its way down to join the rest of the water when the man finally spoke about himself,
“I am Susurro Amoris. I am the way, I am the truth, I am life. You’re loved and accounted for. You sought me out, and you found me. Remember the peace in this moment. From now on, when you call on me, I will answer. It won’t always look like this but know that I am here when you ask. When you do forget, read the little green book, again and again and again.” He smiled warmly and his hug radiated with adoration.
Body tingling, I felt unafraid. I felt refreshed and not sorrowful. Molly, it was mind-blowing. I felt the peace he mentioned.
“This living waterfall has been here since the beginning of time, and replenishes, rejuvenates, relinquishes, and restores all that walk through it. Walk through it now, and return to your life, but remember this freedom you felt when you emerge. Live.”
The kind man with the gentle smile and radiant skin then leaned down, softly kissed my forehead, and pushed me through the waterfall.
Suddenly, I was gasping for air, no longer surrounded by gorgeous trees and a looming waterfall, but I was back in my car at the place it all began. I suddenly looked around, panicked. The airbag out in front of me, and it seemed I had broken just in time for Sue to stop before the fence, not ramming through it.
My head was pounding, as I turned my head to gage my surroundings. Everything was in place, the airbag was a bit of spotted red from blood, and in the passenger seat beside me, a little green book with the title “Susurro Amoris.”
Jiana Abela Nakashima is currently a student at Colorado Christian University studying Psychology with a personal interest in Creative Writing.