Once upon a time, there was a girl and a boy, and they fell in love. But before that, there was just a girl. A girl who carried her Story with her like a shawl draped on thin, unsure shoulders.
The shawl was made of simple things: enough wit to combat naiveté, memories of familial love to keep her warm, and a will so strong it was capable of propelling her through distant lands, her determination making her fearless…in a way. But within the shawl there were also woven dark threads that scratch and itch: doubt and deep fear and loneliness. To conquer all three, she stitched silver wires along the edges to fortify the shawl’s protection. She wore it like a cloak, an armor, wrapping it tightly around herself. Wrapping it around her heart. And so she lived unaffected in the midst of the ever-changing world swirling about her.
Or so it would seem.
Once, there was a boy. This boy carried his Story on his skin, the words tattooed down with invisible ink. Though he did not itch or scratch as the girl did with her shawl, there were bare patches of unblemished, inkless skin that he did not know what to do about. He was missing words, his Story incomplete. He worked hard and studied long and traveled to places looking for those missing pieces of himself. But no matter where he went, or what he did, he felt the emptiness stretch across his skin day by day, year after year, until soon it reached his heart. And so he lived restlessly, trying to find change in a world that had gone still around him.
Or so it would seem.
One day, the tides began their new cycle, and the boy shook himself awake from stupor. There were new words, wondrous words, being washed ashore by undulating waves. Words that were unmoored from their origin and brought to rest by the boy’s feet, a little weary and trodden from their travels but still brimming of hope and wonder and a hint of a smile. The boy scooped up the words but they fell, sifting through his fingers, except for the smile which would stay with him. He placed the smile on a bare patch of skin, right on his forearm, and it stuck. It wasn’t a tattoo but it was good enough. It filled him for a while.
The next day there were new words lying quivering on the sand, their edges curling with each lap of the frothy waves. The boy’s pulse quickened at the sight, and without thinking, he began picking them up one by one. But as soon as he held them in his hands, they vanished, leaving only imprints of feelings on his palms: a soft sigh, a gentle laugh, the warmth of a touch. The boy opened his mouth to cry out his despair, but a gust of Wind plucked his words and carried them away. He went home and waited.
The girl shivered under her shawl though the night air perspired with balmy heat. Earlier that day, she’d sent her wishes and dreams skipping along the cresting waves, but she hadn’t known that the Ocean would take them away from her and claim them for reasons she couldn’t fathom. Now she felt alone and afraid and dreadfully cold, and the shawl with its many silver threads only weighted her sagging shoulders, no longer able to offer comfort or warmth. The tides were changing and a restlessness had woken up inside her. A restlessness that opened a gnawing hunger inside her soul.
A hunger for what? She didn’t know, but there were moments when her hunger turned into sadness, an emptiness, until she longed for relief, her soul crying. It wasn’t until the wind that made her shiver brought down words upon her shoulders—words that were strange and gilded and beautiful—that she would forget her grief, forget herself. The new words, now oddly familiar, settled upon her skin like an invisible shawl. Except this one was as light as whispers and oh so incredibly warm. She slept soundly for the first time since she left home.
Day after day, the boy waited by the shore for the wandering words the Ocean brought in. Night after night, the girl wrapped the Wind-borne words around herself, and smiled.
The Universe, seeing how the boy and the girl shared a soul, a heart, finally conspired to entwine their fates together. One day, the Wind surged and lifted up the boy on its strong gusting shoulders, taking him across the span of the Ocean, which smiled up at them, and gently deposited him on the sandy shore where the girl sat waiting for words.
They stared at each other.
Stars above glistened and quivered up in the night sky, a quiet thrill coursing through them as they cast their gazes upon the two fated souls. The Wind feathered down into a gentle breeze, riffling through pink plumeria blooms, the scent heavenly. Even the Ocean nearby murmured a lovers’ ditty. It was as if the whole world stood waiting with bated breath, waiting to bear witness to this wondrous, magical encounter.
“Hello,” the boy said with a smile.
“Hello,” the girl answered.
And the boy felt new words being written on his skin, tattooed down to last a lifetime, and he was happy.
And the girl shed her silver-lined shawl, keeping her Story inside her heart instead so she’d always know who she was and where she came from. The boy took her hand, and
flowed from his skin to hers, and their Stories became infinite and true.
Once upon a time, there was Me.
And then, You.
We each had a Story to tell, a Story to share, but together, our stories became one. This is the Story of Us.