by Shan Shaikh

Comfort felt so far away. I began to appreciate the feeling of solitude and misunderstanding. I never once thought I'd be rewarded for my work paid with sweat and tears; neither of which were distinguishable. This life I was carving out was starting to make me feel like I was the last sculptor on the planet. My passion and goals were like two wild wolves. I had them on leashes, but if I lost my grip, they'd be gone forever. Out into the wilderness, they'd go. Where someone else would take them in and make them howl like I used to.

But I stumbled across a brand new form of nostalgia. The kind that brings back a familiar word, but a new feeling. It's contradicting, I know. But life's a contradiction. We're raised to share, but forced to look after ourselves. I was too busy looking after myself, that I missed you. I missed you crying. I missed you getting your heart broken. I missed you surviving the hawks. I missed it all. And when I met you, I knew you were somebody. I run into a lot of nobodies; don't get me wrong, nobodies are usually filled with great stories. But there are some people that you meet and you just know they're gonna be somebody. You were somebody I wanted to be with. Someone to waste time with. And although my tag-along spoke for me that day, I was bent on making sure you remembered me.

Discomfort sat on my shoulders like two-ton weights. I didn't like where I was, and I didn't like what I was doing. I've never stopped chasing my dream, but I was definitely sent into a cyclone this year. I don't know why I was with her. You were on my mind. I guess I wasn't done. You have to be done with stuff like that before you begin something new. Embarrassment followed me like a shadow. I hated it. I needed to get away and seek the shelter my passion provided. Only in that would I be able to continue.

When I burned the year and a half away, and spit on the ashes, I felt free. That was the last time. The last time I'd fall into the same hole. Now I'm walking around it. I don't care if someone fills it with cement, or leaves it there for someone else to fall in. Things are going to happen for a reason. I can't control that. But being free was something I could control. I was carving something beautiful, and I could carve at my own pace. No chains. No weights. Just my time, and my art.   

Sure, she was pretty. She liked to talk to me. But, I could see the same kind of art-work in her. A repetition of mistakes that would fill my canvas with all the wrong colors. I knew what she was, and I wasn't going through that again. Besides, it wasn't her that I needed in life. Aggression was something I could produce. If I ever needed someone, it would be someone who could keep my flames from burning down the forest of opportunities. 

That cream looking sweater was a lot softer than I had imagined. When you embraced me, I felt amazing. I should've kissed you. I wanted to. Why didn't I? God knows. Heck, what does he know? I knew what I was doing. What I didn't know, was that I knew what I was doing. That freaked me out. My mouth was full of invisible marshmallows, preventing me from formulating some sort of Casanova response. Spanish was my excuse. I hate that class.

Yeah, hawks were everywhere. They're always everywhere. But I was determined, just as I was determined to add a new color to my canvas, to take you out. You flipped like the teenage beauty you are. And I began to sweat like the 30 year old teenager I am. We ate cows and pilgrim past times. You enjoyed that shake, as I enjoyed titling every song on the jukebox. It was more fun than I expected. You made my vessels tighten, making my heart work extra hard to pump blood into my body. That's the only logical explanation for my heart beating so fast. But, between you and me, I think you just drove me crazy. Drove me all the way to foosball and air hockey. I swear I fought to win. I'd never taken anyone there before. You split right on the grass, and my tag-along missed it. He was just in time to see us hold hands though. That was nice.

I took you to your palace by the car-wash. We must've walked for hours. Mother planted the bomb, but you still went ahead and lit the fuse. God, were you persuasive. The way your sweet, soft lips locked with mine. The way they glided over each and every curve our smiles made forced me to smile even more. You threw your arms around me. I love it when you do that.

Now, I've been painting with this color for a while. Or at least it feels like a while. I have to say it's a color I've never experienced before in my life. This reward came during the most crucial moment of the construction of this art-piece. I had to make sure, before I began filling in the blanks, I knew what I was sketching. I rode miles today to play cards and drink Dr.Pepper with you. Today was the first time. We're fresh and new to ourselves, but it felt right. I grazed my cheeks against yours, and ran my fingers through your hair like a comb. As you whispered the words, the key, I felt your body tighten with mine. Our souls bound together. My hands sending your skin into a scorching cool breeze, and your gentle curves pressing against my rugged shell. We laid there staring at the ceiling's stars with robotic symphonies as our after pleasure.

I was being spoon-fed a taste of your life, but I had to take control when the past was getting closer. I know who you are. The photos helped me get closer to the truth, but I've known who you are for a long time. It's until now, until the comfort has returned that I'm sure I know who you are. You're the girl that saved my life. And I love you.