“I should not do this. I must not do this.” Voices inside Alba’s head.
Confused about her urged to be, Alba questioned her imminent actions. She was told it was prohibited. She was taught to be a sin. She wanted to combat the demons of her ardor, but she felt too involved to escape them.
Emotionally distraught and prey to guilt, shame, and fear, Alba was about to have another prohibited encounter with her past. As she was selecting her outfit for the night, her intrusive memories revived to the time she was a teen.
Alba used to be a cheerful, smiling teen until her orthodox conservative parents caught her kissing her best friend.
Her parents sent Alba to boarding school. A private Catholic school for girls, located far away from her best friend. The teachers, older nuns. Persistently indoctrinating the students with the core standards of the Church. Attributing bad behavior to the devil and manipulating the students while preaching about hell. Expecting them to become moral, rigorous women but evoking fear and indignity about themselves.
After four long years of abject distress, Alba learned how to live in hiding. She misled her family into believing that she had understood the seriousness of her past. Over time, her theatrical performance turned into a nightmare as the memories of her sins transmuted into physical desires.
Constant flashbacks of her past were triggered by her needs. Alba tirelessly suppressed these needs by distancing herself from unnecessary situations. Situations that could bloom her emotions. She tried to shut down her emotions as a way to cope with her sinister reality; a survival mechanism that stilled a profound anguish into her life.
“I was dumb. I was nothing.” Alba would repeat to herself.
She would repeat this over and over again.
But not tonight. Not the night that she was going to have a clandestine encounter with her past, with her best friend.
Alba ran into the bathroom, to wash her face with cold water. She breathed deeply. But, all of her efforts to dismantle her desires were futile. Desires compound with shame and guilt.
She proceeded to ignore the ethical dilemma inside her head.
“I am strong. I have solid moral values. I can see her as a friend.” Lied Alba to herself, while putting thigh high tights and a short black dress.
As planned, Alba arrived to the Echo Park Lake. She intentionally arrived ten minutes late, expecting to find her best friend there. She was not there.
She took out from her purse a metal flask full of whiskey. She had two or three sips from it.
“Maybe she is not coming. Maybe she realized this is a mistake.” Alba thought —
She noticed a dark shadow walking towards her.
She rapidly hid the metal flask inside her purse. Started to look at her surroundings, trying to force herself to cool down.
The sky was blue and purple. The bent palm trees were radiant and shined different colors. The weather was warm but fresh.
“What a sweet, prohibited night.” Alba noted in her mind.
Alba could not resist to look back at the shadow, and directed her sight towards her. The shadow had turned into a delightful image of a red haired woman, pale skin. Chloe.
Alba overjoyed of excitement, forced herself to stay calmed.
“Chloe cannot find out how I feel.” Alba said to herself.
Chloe smiled. Alba’s heart melted.
“I want to drink from that flask too, Alba!” Was the first thing Chloe said to Alba.
Alba laugh, embarrassed but content. Nothing had changed between them.
She took out the mental flask and handled it to Chloe. Chloe drank from it.
They walked in between the bent palm trees. They drank whiskey. They talked about their lives.
Alba had not seen Chloe for so many years. She had so many questions to ask her, so many things to tell her.
“Do you remember the last time we saw each other?” Chloe asked.
A drastic unexpected silence invaded their encounter. One… two… three… four… seconds of silence. The longest four seconds of their lives.
Alba looked down to the floor, not knowing how to respond.
Chloe situated herself in front of Alba, and slowly came closer to her. She whispered three or four words that Alba was unable to understand. She could not pay attention to anything but the presence of her beloved Chloe.
“Maybe I can blame the alcohol for my actions.” Alba thought while still looking down to the floor and said aloud, “Fuck it!”
Alba moved up her head and kissed Chloe in the lips. Soft pink lips. Chloe kissed her back.
Chloe noticed that Alba was tipsy. She was feeling pretty tipsy as well.
They kissed for almost eight minutes, until Alba began to feel Chloe’s cold hands under her short black dress. She felt a warmth in between her two legs —
Unforeseen, intrusive memories inundated Alba’s mind.
“You are not our daughter. I feel shame about you.” Memories of her parents screaming at her.
“We are here to correct you, to save you from hell.” Memories of the older nuns at the Catholic boarding school.
“You do not belong here. You belong in hell.” Memories of her classmates when she confessed to them the reason why her parents had sent her there.
Alba could not experience so much rejection and distress again. So much guilt and shame. She pushed Chloe from her side and ran away from her and from herself, once again.