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Old 02-09-2007, 05:59 PM
ronoxQ (Offline)
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Revised this piece: hopefully the judges will enjoy.


AM

What is love? Amar. Conjugated: amo, amas, ama, amamos—amamos? That can't be right—aman. If Ms. Teacher is to be believed, that's all that matters: take one root, attach ending as desired. “All verbs end the same: you only need to learn the suffix once. The root’s the part that changes.” In my experience, though, love is nothing without an ending, a suffix. I love—yo amo—but she loves somebody else. Ella ama.



Ms. Teacher’s right about one thing, though: every love needs a root. In this class, two simple letters start it all: a, m. AM. Amy sits up and yawns: her braces have come off, I note. Amy has no notes: she took French last year, and so kinda-sorta knows Spanish already. This doesn’t impress Ms. Teacher. “Miss Kimball!” she snaps, and Amy snaps to attention. “Perhaps you can tell your classmates the meaning of amar.” But Amy doesn't know the meaning of amar, not really. Spanish isn't the only place she barely manages passing grades.


“Friend?” she tries, and Ms. Teacher makes a sad sort of clucking sound. Amy blushes. “Well, that's what it would mean in French. Ami.” Her accent is stunning, even in defeat.


A mi,” Ms. Teacher pronounces, “means to me in Spanish. Close as they may seem, no two languages are exactly the same,” and she's right. They’re not even close, not in the end. I had hoped to end in amar, to love and cherish till death did us part, and so I wrote a letter and she wrote a letter back. But something got lost in translation, and when they got back to me those two simple letters had an entirely different meaning: Amy was ami a mi.

The root was never a problem. AM was in place, right from the beginning: I was amorous toward Amy, and she was amiable back. Something changed, though, while things were developing and five letters later we were in entirely different time zones. And that's using a mutual language: French and Spanish may look almost the same, but it's almost-the-same like ami is almost-the-same as amar so you'd better have taken notes.


“It's true, you know.” Amanda leans close to me. “Things get messed up even in English. I could tell you I love you, but you might think I'm talking about something else entirely.” Mandy's my friend, but she doesn't like Amy for some reason: she still takes the time to tease me about my love from time to time, which annoys me to no end. I glare at her, and she flushes a deep red.


“Find yourselves a partner!” cries Ms. Teacher. “Get in pairs, so you can practice love together until you both know love blindfolded!” I look at Amy, hoping she'll be my partner through love, but Ms. Teacher already has an eye on her—“You, Miss Ami, still have much to learn.” I end up with Mandy instead.


“You know, love begins in the morning.” Mandy. “I mean, love begins with 'A.M.' Right?”


“Too bad, then,” I reply; “It's 12:04.” Love missed this class by minutes, it would seem; Mandy's face falls. We work in silence until the bell rings. At lunch, we practice conjugation, going straight down the list. “Yo amo,” I start, between bites of sub. Heavy on the vinegar today. “Amas t?


Yo amo,” she replies. “But he loves somebody else. l ama.


“I'm sorry,” I say. I am. Believe me, I know what it's like to love somebody who doesn't love back. And though I may think it at times, Amy's not the only one struggling with the language of love. “I guess what you have to do, then, is just keep stating it. It might seem like you're speaking two totally different languages at times, but if you say it enough times, he's bound to figure it out.”


Mandy looks hesitant for a second; next, she's smiling and nodding. “Don't worry. I think he'll figure it out soon enough. I won't stop trying.” And I won't either, I suddenly think. I forgot before today just how wonderfully gray her eyes are. They're almost a pure silver, and it's lovely. Next on our list is amamos, “we love.” It's a powerful word: it doesn't need a sentence to go with it. “Amamos,” I say, and she's smiling, and that's enough.


We love: a happy ending; but we can't end there. This is Spanish class, after all, not the real world, and after we love I see Amy pressed against a locker, holding some guy with an earring close. “Ellos aman,” I say, “they love,” and my heart feels like it's breaking. Amanda's my partner in love today, and it's a pity we can't stop at amamos but here the happy ending isn't the one that matters: only the last ending counts. It's sad, but nothing can change that vinegary truth.


My notes tell me the root is all that matters—but love's taken root already. We each had the root, Mandy and I, but we've gone from happy ending to tragedy—me with Amy, her with somebody somewhere. She's close to me physically, but emotionally I feel as if she's a pen pal, some girl writing to me from a far-away country. And looking at those letters, over and over again, I can't help but feel that something must have been lost in translation.

Last edited by ronoxQ; 02-10-2007 at 07:54 AM.. Reason: Making it better.