My Brother Saving the Girl
When I was in high school, there was this smart and very beautiful girl everybody had a crush on. I remember her getting almost all perfect scores on math quizzes and exams. She was tall and pale, she had long black hair. She never painted her nails or wore lipstick. She never spoke in class unless it was necessary. You never hear her raise her voice. When she wants to call someone, she would approach slowly and tap the person on the shoulder. She rarely smiled, but when she did, it was as if the whole world is actually not a bad place to be alive in. Looking back now, the way she moved in the hallways and corridors was what could be described as ‘graceful.’
She wasn’t perfect though. She was absent a lot. Sometimes she comes to school looking harried – hair slightly unkempt, eyes a little red, with just a small dark patch of skin underneath the lower eyelids. Her uniform is wrinkled some days. More often it’s smooth and white. For all that, I thought it just made her more attractive. I was reading Buddhism at that time, having been forced to it by my older brother who is crazy. My brother said to me, it’s those little imperfections that a person should take to mind when looking for a friend. I asked why. He said, it’s because it mirrors the nature of the world. The world is imperfect, impermanent. Perfection is not of this world. Applying the idea to the girl, she was indeed of this world. She was real. Or at least that’s how I thought about it.
One day, she did not show up for school for about a week. Usually she kept her absences to two at most per week, and never one day after the other. There wasn’t any note or excuse letter from her or her parents. The second week she still did not show up for school. He friends started to worry. Rumors spread around the school. One was that she stopped showing up because she ran away from home. Her parents were strict religious, they were Jehovah’s Witnesses – that’s why she was never allowed to paint her nails or wear lipstick or perfume, even floral cologne which was so popular then and which the girls shared so freely with each other was forbidden from her. They said she found a boyfriend from another high school who ran away with her. One said her boyfriend was actually a college student who has a car and a house. I asked, how can a college student have a car and a house? A friend of mine replied, it’s because he’s rich, man, his father’s a politico haciendero and the college student was the unico hijo and thus an heredero of all the father’s riches. Speculations went on like that for months.
On the other hand, my brother who dropped out from college and has been holing in the house for months started getting dreams. He’s been arguing with my parents a lot. Father talked about his future. Mother talked about his future. What was he going to do with his life, they asked. Meanwhile he just stood there on the doorway of his room and looked at my parents, with their elevated heart rates, with the most innocent expression on his face. He said to them he was going to look for the girl. He said he wasn’t going to be a useless person any longer, that he would be a useful member of society. That he would begin by finding out whatever happened to the smart girl who is also beautiful in my class. In a dream, he told me, the girl spoke to him.
“How did you know it is her. You haven’t seen her.”
“Yes, but you have described her to me numerous times.”
“She ran away.”
“Are you sure?”
“Her boyfriend is rich and he has a house and a car.”
“But you’re not sure. None of you are sure. You want me to find out for certain.”
“Do what you want.”
So after half a year of living like a hermit, my brother shaved his beard and moustache. He went out during the early morning to go to the town barbershop. Had his hair trimmed. He wore decent clothes and talked to my parents about how he’s going to the city to find a job and work while thinking about whether he wants to continue with his higher education or not. My parents were delighted.
“In my dream the girl appeared to me. She was shouting help, help. Her hair was frazzled and it was moving on its own, her eyes were stark-red, no pupils, just red eyeballs. She was falling from a building and I am looking down at her as she’s falling, as if I’m falling facedown above her. Her parents I knew were at the top of the building opposite where she jumped off. They were looking at her. She was clawing her way up, like she’s trying to pull me down. She was kicking her legs, like she’s riding an invisible bicycle. I was telling her to not worry, I will save her. I will save her from everything. From her parents, from her problems, from this ugly sad terrible world. But she was just screaming, she does not hear me. She does not see me. And we’re falling, we’re falling, and we’re a few meters from the pavement. And then I wake up.”