As children barely of school-going age, Mark and Zoey forged an indestructible, sustaining attachment that would ultimately capture and imprison not only their hearts, but their entire existence, for the rest of their lives.
They were unreservedly devoted to and besotted with one another; initially only as childhood friends, then as love-struck teenagers and later, as adults with separate lives who were secretly pining for the connection that failed to release them from their love for one another.
When Zoey left the town she grew up in shortly after she had begun high school, she not once thought that she might never see Mark again. When they said their goodbyes at the airport, he assured her that he would wait for her to return to him someday, and Zoey in turn, swore that she would come back, and leave all that was keeping them apart behind her. When she waved him goodbye, she was anxious to grow up as swiftly as was possible, and return to the only boy she had found a safe-place in. When she looked at him one last time before she boarded the plane, she was overwhelmed by a terrifying and prodding feeling that they were about to change, and that nothing would ever be as it was at that very moment. She was nudged by an alarming sensation that perhaps, she might never see him again.
After Zoe had left, Mark found it daunting to return to the town and the school that suddenly seemed so intimidating without her. He unpredictably felt as though every trace of her had been erased, and that he was left with nothing more than dwindling memories of her. The more he surrounded himself with mutual friends of theirs, the lonelier he felt and the more isolated he became. He would wait impatiently for her calls, while Zoey would become increasingly anxious losing him.
Initially, they would pledge their eternal devotion to one another; they would dream of their lives together and they would make plans for a wonderful tomorrow that would someday, await them. Zoey seemed to adjust painlessly to her new life, while Mark constantly struggled in her absence.
When they were finally old enough to implement their previously made plans and begin their life together, both Mark and Zoey’s priorities had shifted. Zoey first wanted to achieve this, and Mark first had to accomplish that. They were young; there was enough time. They had gradually lessened their calls to one another, and their letters to each other had ended a year before. They had unconsciously created new lives for themselves; lives that didn’t include the other. Both Mark and Zoey had surrendered to the worlds they had created, and even though she covertly longed for Mark, and he secretly pined for her, they convinced themselves that what they had once felt for one another, was simply a child-like, puppy-love love; it was not real.
By the time Zoey had reached her late twenties, she was overwhelmed and defeated by her endless hankering for Mark. When she finally plucked up the courage to call him, she was devastated to learn that he had blissfully settled into a life with another. He had all but forgotten her and the promises they once made to each other. Zoey was devastated by his betrayal, and realised for the first time, that she had never quite recovered from the crushing reality of loving, and losing him all at the same time. She berated herself for leaving and she chastised herself for failing to return to him the moment she grew up. Her childhood was filled with cherished memories of him, and she secretly questioned whether it wasn’t in fact, their childhood, that she was really longing for.
Mark was disturbingly stunned by her unexpected call, but more so, by his subsequent deceit. He had waited for her for most of his life; he had kept a close eye on her through an acquaintance as she prodded on with her life. Mark’s devotion to Zoey remained unchanged and in no way lessened, but he was in no way at all, prepared to inflict the pain and suffering that would eventually destroy her, if he was to expose his terminal illness to her.
Mark was dying; it was a burden he had no intention of revealing to Zoey. Zoey was shattered by his rejection and desperately tried to claw her way out of the ashes that had remained of her once obsessive love for him. When a few years had passed, Zoey realized that she was incessantly wrestling with her untainted yearning for Mark. She wanted to find him; she wanted to hear him say it and she wanted to see it in his eyes.
When Zoey could not pick up on Mark’s trail, she was confounded by the discovery that he had since died. She was angry and shattered all at the same time that he had never told her. She was frantic to learn more about Mark’s suffering, and set out to find the woman he had previously claimed to have fallen in love with. Zoey was horrified to discover that there was no-one else, there never was. She later learnt that Mark’s only concern throughout his illness, was to spare her the anguish and trauma of his impending death.
He was devoted to setting her free and he sacrificed his own heart in the process. It was a love that they were both fiercely connected to; a love that had begun as children, but a love that time could in no way at all, diminish.
Their child-like, puppy love had turned into a kind of passion far greater or equal to no other devotion, even though it had ended before it really had begun. It had lingered from their early years into their adulthood, and even after Mark’s death. Zoey was left behind broken-hearted, fearing a reality where she would never feel about another, as she still felt for Mark.
Through the years and as they grew up; even in the absence of the other, they both knew that the connection they had shared, could never be duplicated. As Zoey continues to wander around aimlessly in a world without Mark, she knows without any doubt, that she would hunt him for the rest of her life. She will tirelessly search for him in everyone else; she will continue to scan a crowd, desperate to find him there. She will close her eyes at night and see his eyes; the eyes of a little boy that once told her a thousand stories. And when she awakes in the morning, she will do her utmost to forget him for just a while, as she instinctively fights to survive an unfinished life without him. He will continue to plague her dreams, and consume her every thought as though he is still alive. He will forever be the one, she equates everyone else to.
Love is just that; love. It is what it is. There is no age limit and there are no levels of passion that is prescribed according to age. When someone you love becomes a fragment of you; when it defines who you are, irrespective of your age, it lingers … forever. There is no age constraint and there is no expiration date.
It will find you … always.