The Fight for Mi Querida Daniela
Gabriel A. Rincón-Mora
It was a fight for love! A brawl borne out of the depths of my soul, inspired by my first and only affection, my last and everlasting adoration.
¡Carajo! ¡TOMA! … hrrrr … Quedate quieto … hayyy … ¡huhhh!
There was no stopping to the madness, to the rage caged within my fists. The fuel was none other than hot-blooded fiery passion. The subjects of my fury were my two best friends, as it turns out, mates from years past. I couldn't believe it! We were in a three-way fight and punches flew left, arms swung right, and bodies were shoved and slammed. So much despair was stored in me that I could not really tell, at times, if I was hitting them square in the face, striking the floor, or beating myself to a pulp. My eyes could only see red, and I don't know if it was blood I was looking at or the color of wrath, just another shade of black. The fight had one name, one source, and one purpose, and her name was Daniela, the sweetest most beautiful creature known to man, my one and only Eve.
It all started in the summer of 1981, in the town of Maracay, a beautifully provincial city hidden under the gentle mantle of a thriving country, the inspirational Venezuela. Gorgeous women paraded the streets and traffic always succumbed to them, and rightfully so, to their gleaming grace and exquisite taste. In the mountains, in the neighborhood of El Castaño, I saw her for the first time. She was slim and perfectly molded; the heavens took their saintly time in creating her. She had short brown curly hair, and it radiated eternal life. Her eyes were a shade between blue and gray, with a hint of emerald green, all of it resting on a soothing soft white pillow and decorated with long, lavishly curled, eye lashes. The black cat-like rays in her iris were as clear as day and as extraordinary as May. Her smile, well, that was simply out of this world. It was truly stimulating, and uninhibited, radiance, full of innocence and with faultless sophistication, and perfect accentuation. Her exquisiteness was so alarming to me that I couldn't bear it! Talking to her was out of the question, not even walking in front of her. My heart plunged out of my chest in reverberating palpitations if I even came within yards of her.
It was quite by chance that I met her in El Centro Comercial Parque Aragua. Barbara, a girl I knew for many years, introduced her to my buddies and me. I don't know how apparent it was but we were all awestricken, without much to say or do. Daniela and Barbara didn't stay long, probably because of the awkwardness of the situation, which wouldn't have surprised me. As soon as they left, we all knew what happened. We all fell in love! I know it sounds naive, and even stupid, especially after such a short visit, barely a glimpse, but, somehow, we had all been graced by her striking beauty and enamored by her penetrating personality. We didn't say much after meeting her and left our separate ways, all numb and even dumb, at least I know I was.
Apparently, Daniela visited her aunt often, who lived in El Castaño, where I had seen her first, which is also where I lived, and that is how I got to see her again. I never got enough nerve to talk to her, though. I would wave and smile, but never stop and talk. I was tongue tied, dumbfounded! I did whatever it took to get a peek at her smile and invented seven hundred and one different ways to see Barbara, in the hopes of being near Daniela. The days passed but the thought of her became a permanent fixture in my mind, always omnipresent.
Much to my dismay, I learned that my two best friends were, each on their own, also trying to get close to her. All this came out in the open during a birthday party for Carolina, one of Barbara's best friends. Obviously, none of us were happy about these revelations and didn't like the idea of chasing the same girl, especially because of our code of respect, our code of honor, as friends, as fools! It was during this party that all hell broke loose, despite our fraternal ties. We tried talking it out, trying to force one another to give up the idea of Daniela but no, no, that wouldn't happen, it couldn't! That's when words escalated to a full blown-out confrontation of colossal proportions.
It didn't take but a mere breath before we were on each other's throats, literally, which brings me back to the fight, the rage, the agony with which I started this story. It was violent! No one could stop us, or even touch us. I don't know how long it took but all I remember is that, at some point, we were all on the floor, hurt, in pain, wondering. Silently, without uttering a word, as friends and men of honor often do, or so I thought, we decided to let the fight judge our destiny, our fate, our future with Daniela. The inevitable verdict wasn't the result of so-called machismo, as many would say, but that of friendship, of true respect. Of course, it was up to Daniela to ultimately decide and accept; but, it was in our hands, as friends, to choose who would try wooing her first, without having the other intervene. I don't think any one of us considered how impossible we found it to even talk to her, or even approach her, let alone chase her. Nonetheless, we made our silent, and very violent, agreement and managed to keep our friendship intact, if not stronger, without ever mouthing, to each other, her tender name again.
¿Y ahora qué?
We fought, we talked, we decided, but what now? I still couldn't talk to her, even after having the green light. What a joke! I couldn't face her, much less with any proposition of intimacy. The only thing I could do is think of her in the still of the night, while my senses were free of her physical being. It is while I was away from her that I was inspired to write a letter, a love letter, THE letter. It took me a whole weekend to write three pages, sheets full of unadulterated, yet innocent, passion, and love. I totally forgot how shy I became when I was in her presence and only dreamed of holding her hands. I visualized embracing her and having her cheek-to-cheek.
The weekend came and went, and Monday, of course, arrived without delay, perhaps too soon! I was to see her again that day. This time, though, I had a letter to give her, my love to proclaim. I still couldn't talk to her or be in her presence without shaking like the bell in my throat, but the letter couldn't back out, the picture painted in its threads wouldn't erase, wouldn't budge. Well, my chest pounded and my voice cracked but I asked Omar, sitting to my side on the next aisle, in fourth period, to hand her the letter. She was sitting on the same row but another aisle over. We were in the middle of our social studies class at the Instituto Educacional Aragua, in fourth grade. As it turns out, not only did she attend the same school I did but also the same grade. Well, everything fuzzed out for me at that point, while she took all of eternity to read the letter. I couldn't see her; all I could do was rest my head down on my pupitre, with head in hands and heart in mouth. Omar suddenly tapped me on my shoulder and passed me a small note, written from a Snoopy, Hello Kitty pad, pink and yellow in color and cutout to the shape of a dog house, with Snoopy resting on it. The note was folded in two. I took five long breaths and opened it slowly, cautiously …
¡Si! ¡Si! ¡Si! -it said below a heart pierced by Cupid.
My life was never the same after that!
November 3, 2001