I’d like to keep this short and sweet. Maybe sweet isn’t the word for it. More like “short and get to the point.” For now, I’m not really bothered, I just feel the desperate need to get this off my chest. Some may say it’s tragic. Some may say it’s sick. For me, it was a combination of both. Even before I knew, I knew? You know? I knew I was an addict. However, not the typical addict – no drugs, no alcohol, no food, no sex.
No. None of that. I was addicted to children. Young ones especially, with their still budding bodies, flushed rosy cheeks and carefree attitudes. I would sit on park benches. Leering. Gaping. Watching. I’d observe how they didn’t give a damn about anything, and rightly so. I mean, at the age of 8, what could possibly matter? Now, before you start judging me, calling me a pervert and whatnot, let’s just say I wasn’t alone in my beliefs. Sure, the whole thing was “wrong and immoral” if we abide by the universal moral code. But for me, it felt natural. Almost inherent to me.
I never asked for such feelings. I never wanted such feelings. Often, at times, I would feel disgusted with myself, to the point where I thought suicide was the only option. I was not able to build normal adult relationships, especially if she had children. More often than not – in fact – every damn time, I’d find myself fantasising about their child rather than them. It was part of me and I knew no matter how hard I tried to suppress it, my feelings would never change or go. So know you know part of my story, let me tell you how it led to my downfall.
It was the summer of ’71. By then, I was working as an author in Paris. I remember the day exactly. From the faint smell of crepes in the air, to the warm breeze that ran through my hair. The job was okay. The pay was okay. I was okay one would say, but I felt empty. I had already been married three times at the age of 31. All left me for richer, younger men. Maybe that’s what added fuel to the fire. I distinctly recall being seven years of age and my father remarried a younger woman. She was 3o years his junior. Maybe that’s where my obsession stemmed from. I mean, when we are young, that’s when we are most influenced by our surroundings, that’s when we are most malleable. I don’t want to blame my childhood for this, but then again, what can I blame?
I met her whilst she was in secondary school. She was 15 years of age. A bit old for my liking, but then again a child is a child. Who was I to complain? Nothing about her stood out, for she was a plain, almost dull looking girl. Nevertheless, I was inexplicably drawn to her. To say what drew me to her would be impossible, but I definitely felt something towards her. It could’ve been her eyes. They were green. My favourite colour was green. Or her smile, and in particular, the two lines that would form at the side of her mouth whenever she would smile.
At first, I watched from a distance. She wasn’t a lonely girl, but she wasn’t popular either. Everyday, at 4:17 exactly, she would walk past my window. In case you’re wondering, my editing office was right next to her school. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure how to approach her. What would I say? Would it sound believable? What if she called me a pervert? What if I was reported to the police? Such thoughts ran through my mind on a daily basis, but they were never enough to sway me. After all, my desire, my compulsion, my lust for those young and budding was the strongest emotion I had ever experienced.
I decided the smart thing to do was bump into her after school, and that’s exactly what I did. After a few “oh désolé désolé monsieur ” we began to see each other on a daily basis. Our run-ins and exchanges were often brief, but after about a month, I asked if she would like to have coffee with me. To my surprise, she agreed. No hesitation, just a simple “oui.” Our conversations never lacked in content and before I knew it, I found myself falling for her. It felt so wrong but so right. Clichéd, I know, but there was simply no other way to put it. After a short while, our friendship developed into a relationship. There was no sexual aspect to it, as her parents were strict Catholics who forbade her staying out after school. As time went on, I could feel her growing more and more distant towards me. Was it the age gap? Was she ashamed? We were as discreet as possible so I had no idea what the issue was.
Two months later, the relationship ended. I was distraught. It was going well. There was no reasonable explanation for any of it. After that, I never heard from her again. Weeks passed and I was forced to move on with my life. I decided France wasn’t the place for me, so I moved to England. In the local magazine, the death of a French teenage girl was reported. It was said that she committed suicide by hanging herself. Upon looking at her picture, the face was all too familiar. The lines next to her mouth were too familiar.
I knew it was her. I refused to believe it. Days went by and I still couldn’t come to terms with it. My Lola? Dull and plain Lola? Continuing to read the article, I learned that her parents forced her to go to therapy after they discovered she was in a relationship with a man old enough to be her brother. Surely it couldn’t have been me? But deep down, I knew it was. I blamed myself for her death. I couldn’t stop replaying our last moments together in my head. What if I had stayed in Paris? Why didn’t I check on her wellbeing?
I used to believe that it was wrong of me to be so sensitive. I would always feel everything in its extremes. When I was sad, it was excruciating. When I was happy, I was uncontrollably joyful. When I was angry, I could feel my blood boil. And when I was unsure, I was completely hopeless. Everything I would ever feel always felt overwhelming. Radiating off of my skin and consuming the air around me. I used to question, why it was that I would feel so much. Emotions came in waves of “too much”. All of my life I questioned whether this was a gift or a burden to feel too much. Too much, too much, too much. Staring into my own reflection, trying to pinpoint where it came from so maybe by facing it, I could finally make it all stop. But, if it were to all top, who would I be then? To take away my sensitivity, is to take away the very core of me. It would mean to take away my consciousness, my awareness, my intuitive nature of everything around me. It would be stripping away all of my empathy. It would mean to take away all colours I see the world in. You remove sensitivity from me and I might as well cease to exist.
I tried, honestly. I tried to move on, to accept the fact that my young lover was dead. Grief consumed me. It got the better of me. So by the time you’ve finished reading this, just know that I’m with Lola now. Not all lives are meant to be lived. Not all battles fought are meant to be won, and this battle certainly wasn’t.