Those days I desperately wanted to fall in love. I wanted it all; the joy and tenderness of a first kiss, the feeling of a heart ready to burst with gladness. The giddy sensation of reciprocation, knowing someone loved you back perhaps even more than you loved them. I wanted to marry, have children, and wake up every day next to the person I cared for. These were the desires that most filled my heart, their presence filling me with longing. So it came as a shock to me when I realised that the first man to stir feelings within me was the one who had robbed me that night.
I only realised later, when I re-examined the events of that evening. The soft touch of those dark hands had made me shiver, but with desire rather than fear. So too had my breath caught in my throat, and my pulse quickened. My mind had been too fogged with confusion to read the signs properly, but I had read enough to realise that I was attracted to him. I knew also with enough certainty that we would probably never meet again.
It hurt to think that a possible lover had come and gone so quickly, but I was certain that someday soon I would find someone else. I put the events of that night out of my head, and continued with my existence. Parties, gatherings, all served to keep me entertained, but every time I saw thick black hair it pulled me back to that moment. The more I struggled to keep him out, the more I thought about it.
I constructed a little fantasy around him. In my head, I called him Nathan. We would see one another behind my aunt’s back, meeting at the spot where he had ambushed me. He would take me to the secret lair where he stored all of his stolen treasures, and we would kiss passionately until I had to go. Oh, how I ached for that fantasy. It made my heart bleed to know that it had slipped away.
I took to wandering the streets at night, reminiscing and fantasising. I always carried a knife since I had been robbed, but I didn’t know if it would help or even if I would be strong enough to use it. But I carried it anyway, lending myself some extra courage by feeling its handle concealed in the folds of my dress. But always within me I carried the vain hope that one day soon, chocolate coloured hands would close around my mouth once more. It was stupid and self-destructive, but I wanted it. So I kept walking the streets, regardless of the danger.
It was on one such night that I found myself walking in a place I had never been before. The moon shone brightly on the cobblestones, and though I was lost, I found myself enchanted by the sight. I was on the edge of the city, where the river met the sea. This was the working part of town, where the poor slept. There, floating on the surface of the water, was a single rose. I reached for it carefully, trying to keep my fingers dry. I fingered the petals carefully, feeling their softness. As I did, a single petal fell.
“What have you done?” There was a shout from the darkness. It was a voice I recognised, though the tone left me fearful instead of relieved. This was the dark-skinned thief, and he was angry for some reason.
He came up behind me, and I spun around. His face was terrifyingly angry, and I cringed away. He grabbed me roughly by the arm and I tried to pull away. His grip was too strong, and I found myself being led somewhere. My hand found the hilt of my knife, but I didn’t pull it out. As stupid as it sounded, I was curious to know what I’d done to deserve such wrath, and I didn’t want to risk hurting my dark fantasy. So I let myself be led into the unknown, feeling strangely exhilarated.
I could only hope I didn’t regret it later.