Like The First Time

L. Oliva

It was an afternoon of soft rain with faded brilliance of the sun hiding behind the clouds. I went down on a cab with excitement and stood in front of a chapel. The feeling of happiness engulfed me as I walked near the threshold. The inside of it were artistically decorated with colorful ribbons and beautiful flowers in every corner. A bright red carpet extended up to the stairs outside waiting to be walked on.

It was an anticipated wedding. I fixed my necktie and smiled at everyone who stood and faced the center aisle as the church’s orchestra played a warm rendition of the Wedding March. I smiled at the pretty little girl who was scattering petals of different flowers on the path. My emotion aroused as I saw a beautiful lady dressed in white walking on the path where the petals fell. I knew she was smiling behind her silhouette veil. I smiled at her while she walks forward as I waited for her to arrive the altar.

An event from which a wonderful memory will be made and remembered. But I am aware that memories do fade with time, so I promised myself to take care of those memories that are important and keep it inside of my head. But human mind has flaws and very much vulnerable.

Ten years ago, I happen to be involved in an accident. After a week of my slumber in a hospital bed, I woke up with nothing to remember even my own name. In front of me are people I don’t recognize, with mixed happiness and sadness in their eyes. Whatever happened to me before the accident and after I regain my consciousness was a big question to me. I felt like an empty cookie jar.

The only thing right to do at the moment is to go with the flow. They’ve taught me the basic things I need to know about my self. They’ve shown me photographs and from there they introduce me to people that I used to know but I do not recognize at that moment. Months after my physical wounds have healed. My family and I moved to another country hoping that someone or something in that far place can help me remember things. We’ve failed. But our life should continue.

I lived a normal life. I studied and graduated from a good university. My mind was set for the future even though I am clueless about my past. Every day that passed, I yearned for it. My heart remembers but my mind refused. Years come by and we decided to go back to the Philippines.

With enough luck on my side, I got my self a job as a Pediatrician. There was an influenza virus affecting the little kids and that happened during my first week of working. It was tough yet I managed to help them. And one of them was this little girl named Elisa.

“Will I be okay?” she asked me with sadness on her little face.

“Yes, you will be,” I promised her. “Because its my duty to make sick little children well”

“In time for my sister’s wedding?” she wondered.

“Yes,” I nodded.

“I am going to be her flower girl,” she told me.

“The most beautiful flower girl,” I smiled. “So take your medicine and be a good girl.”

I recognized a tiny smile on her face as she was carried by her mother outside my clinic. I was fixing my stuffs when someone opened the door. And it was her, the little girl.

“Will you come to my sister’s wedding?” she asked me.

“But I am not invited,” I told her with a smile.

“I will tell her when I go home,” she said. “Please promise me you’ll come”

“Sure. I promise,” I told her.

She closed the door as she left. There is something in her that made me wonder. She resembled someone that I knew from long ago and thinking more of it only gave me a headache. As if my mind’s refusing to remember.

Days later, I received a phone call from the hospital lobby. It was from Elisa asking me to come to her house. I am great at keeping promises and make it a point to fulfill each and one of it. Not for them but for myself. Every time I think about my past, I felt like being torn apart, the same feeling that occurred to me whenever someone broke their promise. And I don’t want her to experience the same thing.

I took her address from the nurse at the lobby and took a cab and head directly to the address. As I arrive, I noticed the chapel, decorated with beautiful flowers and colorful ribbons along the stairs and the bright red carpet extending outside waiting to be walked on.

I paid the driver and jumped outside the cab. Elisa’s house stood in front of the chapel. From outside I saw their garden. I rang the doorbell. A few minutes later, Elisa appeared in front of me. She was dressed in a beautiful little gown with laces and flowers crowned on her head.

“I’m glad you came,” she smiled.

“Didn’t I promise you?” I replied.

“Can you dance her like the first again?” Elisa asked me.

“What do you mean?” I replied with a question.

She took my hand and dragged me in to their garden planted with Bermuda grasses. There’s an open dome-like shade with Greek-designed pillars, astonishingly decorated with flowering plants. I saw a beautiful lady dressed in white with colorful flowers crowned on her head. She looks exactly like Elisa.

I was stunned with her beauty as she was with my presence. She looked at me as if she knew me. Elisa sat in front of a piano and started playing a familiar tune, it was slow and soft, melodic and wonderful Canon in D Major. I offered my hand and asked her for a dance and she agreed. We started to dance and the rain started to fall from the sky. I saw her tears fell from both of her eyes and rolled on her soft cheeks.

“Alex…” She said.

And suddenly, everything came back to where it used be. I remembered everything. It has been ten years, yet still everything is as clear as yesterday. I remembered her.

“Isabel?” I uttered.

Yes. I remembered her. I remembered the day I first set my eyes on her. I remembered what she wore for our first date. I remembered how we did our first dance. I remembered what made her cry the first time, and what made her smile after that. I remembered everything. I remembered the moment we shared the same feeling of love until the day we broke up.

I embraced her tight and regretted the day we broke up ten years ago even though I know that it is already late.

The decision we made was mutual; it was for our own sake. For our self-betterment, we parted and without promising each other we believe that the future was destined for us. I held her like the way I used to do.

The wedding will start any minute from that moment. I took Elisa and Isabel to the chapel in front of their house. Elisa started walking at the aisle as she scattered petals on the path where Isabel walked with grace and elegance. And I, on the other hand, was happily waiting for her to reach the altar.

The way she smiled was like as if a dream is coming true for her, a part of our life that we will remember most. But memories fade. Present becomes past, and all we have is an image of what it was. And when that image fades, we take an image of the image. And so on, and so on. We have no more memories, only memories of remembering the memories.

I looked at her as she arrived and stood beside her groom as they faced the priest. And then I turned around and walk opposite the path where she chose to walk. I ended up on the same road where I met the accident ten years ago.

For that last time, I loved her like the first time and left.

7 Comments »

  1. Denise Jane A. Ocampo said

    This story really hit me; it touched my very core. I could just make out the pain that the other guy felt seeing his ex get married to someone else. It’s like when you say, “like the first time”, it’s akin to doing that last, desperate attempt to relive the feeling that you once shared, that you once felt for each other. It’s so painful. This is like an advance account of what will happen to me years from now, which hopefully will never happen to me. I don’t think I could deal with the rejection, with the pain. This is really a good piece of work. I love it.

  2. Denise Jane A. Ocampo said

    Scratch that. I choose not to let this story tell in advance what will happen to rael and me. I mean, we can choose to let a story control our lives, but we can also choose not to let it engulf us. This is just to stress how powerful this short story has been. It did not only touch my heart, it moved my soul.

  3. Near said

    May God provide you with enough courage, if ever you may encounter a similar future in this story.

  4. jeni said

    so uh… alam ni isabel yung nangyari kay alex?

    ang lungkot naman, kainis ka T_T

  5. kana said

    naiyak aq…;o;
    so touching…

    uu eggy alam ni isabel…ata…o.o

  6. monch said

    “Like The First Time” is a gem of a short story. The writer efffectively narrated the series of events that builds up to an emotional but poignant climax.

    Can’t wait to read the next 2 parts but i have to finish my own writing or else i’ll lose my job.. ahehe..

    Kudos to u Oli for a job well done. You’re such a prolific talent waiting to be discovered!

  7. […] part 1 : Like The First Time […]

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