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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

The last time I saw Elodie

elodieaBy Ardain Isma

CSMS Magazine staff writer

The sun was just making its way from the east and struggling to overpower the crepuscule, as the morning dew was slowly fading away. I spotted from a distance Elodie’s silhouette, sluggishly departing from the chapel door while making her way to the great hall, where students lined up like early doves to order their favorite dish from the university’s only breakfast bar. I immediately switched from walking to jogging in a desperate attempt to capture one more time her saintly smile that I always needed to rejuvenate my day. She glanced across the courtyard and noticed that I was edging closer. As if our inner selves were already in perfect communion, she substantially slowed her march and ultimately stopped and turned around. “I knew it was going to happen,” she grinned. By the time I reached the front steps and readied to reciprocate, she had already stepped down and grabbed me by the arm. “I had a dream last night, and you were at the center of it,” she said, squeezing my arm as admittance that she was equally looking for the comfort necessary to reenergize her beautiful composure.

I threw a grin, but remained tightlipped. Affirmation like this was just enough to land me the bliss that I so desired. My day had already been made. My arm remained squeezed under hers while she led me to the main couch adjacent to the bookstore, where waves of students vacillating between the bookstore and the breakfast bar waited for the time to hit their classrooms. Then she released my arm, but not my hand that she folded onto hers with our fingers intertwined.

She stood before me like a beauty queen—a Caribbean queen, a mûlatresse Creole with a distinctive slenderness that all men would definitely crave. Sharp, tall, upright and folded under a knee-long blousy dress with open zipper, which made the firmness of her breast impossible to be overlooked. The glow of her face shone even more as the sunray finally broke through the colonial windows to hit the hallway. That December morning, just one week before Christmas, Elodie represented the quintessential example of a dazzling mixture of beauty and simplicity. And when she gave me her smile, her white shining teeth glittered in the sunray, sending chill to my heart and throwing me off to seventh heaven, as they say in the Caribbean.

That morning, like all previous ones, we kissed, laughed and chatted until class time. When it was time to branch to our separate classes, she leaned forward and injected a lengthy French kiss into my lips—the kiss that still remains vividly fresh in my mind. “See you at lunch, Dinco,” she said, slowly releasing her hand from mine and then disappeared in the midst of the students rushing to their classes. Little did I know that I was spending the last moment with the first girl who befriended me and ultimately became the love of my life in that sprawling university.

That day at lunch, I was as punctual as ever, trying to beat her unbeatable promptitude. After one hour waiting in our favorite, usual spot and she was nowhere in sight, I knew then that something was out of the ordinary. With a determined tread, I retraced the path where we last said goodbye and kissed like wild kids in a candy store. I made my way to the last class she would have attended that day before midday, I asked every friend and every professor, I searched her room, her car, but no one and nothing could direct me into her path again. My search dragged for days, for weeks and years with still no trace of this Haitian queen, who mysteriously disappeared from my radar screen and left an emptiness in my heart that was, for many years, impossible to be filled.

Years later, I remain trapped in this perplexity, pondering how unfair life could be. Though, I still plunge into this marvelous realism, contemplating a wild dream that runs the risk to remain just that: a dream, an awesome dream. My hope to ever meet her again has long been faded, but in my self-righteousness, somehow, the dream, I must say, has never been so vividly alive. Wherever she may now be, in heaven or on earth, through me she will forever live on, along with everything she had always hoped for—a free Haiti and her unshakable passion for her homeland, her disdain for a recalcitrant upper class in which she was originated from, our plan to have babies and watch them grow before retreating to the valley of Jacmel, the city where she was born.

In the shadow of dream, lies the fear of the unknown. But also hope keeps all dreams alive. And I have hope, although life can be very daunting and clotted with mishaps. It is a natural phenomenon. Like a small boat, sailing in shallow water, no pole is ever needed to reach final destination; and when things get darker, it is always the emotion, the faith and the passion that will ultimately break all cycle of despair. Elodie was, is and forever will be my elusive Creole, migratory bird that flies high across the sky and lands only in the spring to please solely the one who carries the most attractive charm.

Truly, for me, she will always be my eglantine, the exotic tropical flower that fumes endlessly across valleys to spread its infinite soft, fragrant scent. It is because of all these things, along with her beauty, her charm, our unforgettable shared memories and her ponderously capricious manner that I will forever keep her deep inside my mind, body and soul. It is because of all these things that my hope has not yet been extinguished. Finally, it is because of all these things that I still remain pessimistically optimistic that someday, somehow, along the sandy banks of the river of hope, we’ll meet again.

Note: This story was first published in 2007. It has been republished due to countless demands. Ardain Isma is essayist and novelist. He is the Chief Editor for CSMS Magazine. His latest novel “Midnight at Noon” can be purchased anywhere. Click on this link to order a copy: Midnight at Noon 

Also see: I saw Elodie, I swear

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