The first time she set her eyes across his face, she had no way to know that he would slowly become the father-figure she had always yearned but never really got, all her life. He pulled her down from the car, and she laid eyes on the shabby but comfy little house behind, and the small thin-haired fat woman who waved to her, a grin spread over her face and hope etched to the corners of her eyes. Mother and father, she learned new words that day and though she never realized it, the top layer of the walls surrounding her heart, they fell down noislessly yet relentlessly.

The very first note of the accordion brought her to the state of a reverie – because, oh, what had music been back at the orphanage? The shrill cries of the cleaning lady, or probably the multitude of spoons clattering on the dining table, out of hunger and desperation. With the notes and sounds and melodies and memories swirling all around the serene atmosphere about her, unknowingly, unflinchingly, another layer fell off the pile of bricks around her heart.

The first kick, made in front of a dozen nonplussed street urchins, the ball flying over the last building in the lane, made her not just their friend, but made her their own. Days would merge with evenings, and evenings would flow into nights, but it was only the call of dear little mother which could bring her out of the heat of the game and the passion of the play. And there on the field, every once in a while, another layer of the wall would find its way to the ground.

The first time she saw him smile, her mind burst into stars, every thought, every memory, every feeling – all coming together to form a constellation brighter than any she had seen in the sky. Somewhere in the midst of awkward conversations turning into heartfelt declarations, the walls she had built from a time she could no longer remember, they came down.

The first step she took down the altar was drenched in trepidation and dressed in white. The flowers woven into her hair showed hastiness yet love, because even though mother’s fingers were no longer nimble, the love in her heart was abound. Hesitant yet determined, the walk down the path was significant enough that even amidst the hubbub of the spectators, her heart did manage to knock down another pile of rocks.

The first time she heard her wail, nestled against the crook of her arm, she knew that here had arrived a creature who’d steal her nights and make it up in the daytime. Small and tender, all flesh and chub, she gingerly picked the baby up and tried holding her in different angles, just for the sake of it. But this time, the takedown was within the realm of consciousness. She could feel the exact moment her whole life had been building uo for, when her heart set free, when the last of the bricks fell to the ground and when there were no more walls to pull her back.



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