Catalina by H.M.C
I’d climb in her window at night. Sounds boomed through the house and we’d listen. Sometimes it was her mum yelling at some poor shmuck she’d brought home to soothe the loneliness. Some feral from the pub down the road who had it comin’. I’d hold Cat tighter on those nights and I could feel the pain resounding through her body. She’d stiffen, but act like it didn’t affect her. Maybe it was more embarrassment than anything else.
Cat’s dad was long gone – another bruise in the long-line of life beatings she took. It was just another thing that should’ve turned her into an ungrateful punk of a teenager, but it never did. She should’ve been a right bitch, really. Most chicks our age were.
We used to think that no one could understand how deep our love was for one and other – like we were the only ones in the Universe. Her face lit up like no one else’s. That’s the beauty of first love, there’s a passion and yearning so new and vulnerable, falling from grace feels like death. It’s laughable to think back now at how dramatic we were. At the time, we were always right.
Other girls would talk to me. Cat hated that. She was jealous. Imagine a beautiful girl thinking I’d leave her. I told her every day she was perfect– remind her she was all I’d ever want. Sometimes I got sick of it.
That day I watched her in her short skirt with little mushrooms on it, sitting mid-way up her thigh, tempting unsuspecting eyes, including that of the male teachers. My attempt … anyone’s attempt at ignoring her was futile. One sole fell off her shoe and she’d taped it up with packing tape and could get away with such an act, while others wouldn’t fare so well.
Catalina Berkenstein was the prettiest girl I’d seen. Long brown hair fell down her back and rosy cheeks beamed against creamy skin – stuff dreams were made of. Dreams I’d rather not share with the likes of you. No offense.
I’ll share some, though. Some things are important to talk about.
I watched her with friends and when she came forth and deposited a kiss upon my lips my belly burned, and so did other things. ‘Did I mention you look exquisite today?’ I held her by the back of the neck and she pressed against me. It wasn’t easy staying cool. ‘Stop it, tease. There are people present.’
‘You know that turns you on even more.’ She grabbed me in that spot. Crap.
‘Hmmmmm.’ Mrs. Yule crept up and glared at us, a hard line for lips. ‘Redman. Cat. The bell’s gone. I don’t usually have to ask kids to leave school at 3pm.’
‘Yes, Miss.’ Cat put an arm around me and we glided along the footpath, star-crossed lovers, leaning in with secrets. I watched boys and girls pass by on foot, bikes and in high-schoolers’ rusty-old cars – envy in their eyes. My heart swelled, and my head, too.
‘I told you not to wear those shoes today.’
She looked down and pouted. ‘I’m sorry. I forgot.’
This was how the conversation went. Something like it, anyway.
We bypassed my front door and the old shed was a welcoming site, reminding me of after school specials, holidays and make-out sessions on the old sofa. I loved that shed. I pulled out my Honda 250 while Cat stood waiting, school-bag by her foot. She jumped on the back and put her hands around my waist and I could smell her. I felt her breasts on my back and fired up the engine, leaving the shitty school day behind with a roar and an open track. The dust flicked up from the road and the engine snarled. I weaved, dodged and twirled like I’d laid the path myself. I mostly had! The first jump came rolling up toward us.
The best part.
We zipped up the incline and Cat clutched my shirt. We lifted off, hearts racing. She laughed in my ear – tinkling sweet – like she always did. The exhilaration and the gentleness of her … a perfect mix, to make a young boy happy. The second jump came; we wobbled, and on the landing, crashed.
We came off. We came off often and Cat was pretty tough. I heard her giggle. Well, I thought I did. When I leaned back to grab her …
It’s hard to talk about.
Her body twisted unnaturally and there was blood. I thought maybe she was just in shock.
When I went to her, there was nothing behind her eyes – the warmth was completely gone. I tried to move her hand, gently shake her, but there was no response. The world went quiet.
Every day after the accident, I’d ride past Cat’s house. I knew she wasn’t there anymore, but I had to pretend. Needed to. I rode past every day for about a year before my mother found out and told me Cat’s mum would prefer if I didn’t sit there, staring at their house anymore. Some freak kid-stalker. I’d never climb in that window again and kiss her ear to wake her. I’d never smell her skin or stroke her hair to help her sleep. The thought of that was unfathomable for such a long time. Yeah, go on, laugh. I sound like an old man, ay? Stop it.
Cat was my first love. Some people lose their husband or wives after fifty years of marriage. I’m not saying that their pain is any less than mine, please don’t think that. It must be torture.
I’m just saying that I envy them their time.
I really, really do.
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