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I didn’t see the rainbow girl for quite sometime after that.
Christmas came and went, as well as New Year. My grandparents Olga and Delio came to visit, and so did my brother Marco and his boyfriend Neri, so I didn’t go back to Portugal for the holidays.
My brother Levi came for my birthday, with his girlfriend Fausta, and suddenly I was seventeen and felt very much like an adult, living in my attic, getting taller, and having bigger breasts. I started combing my hair again because I got tired of looking so much like a witch, but I was still buying army boots and dressing mostly in black.
Then, in March, my stepmother called me and told me my book was going to be published. I couldn’t believe my ears. She said it was going to be published just the way I had written it, with a few minor corrections, and together with the soundtrack my brother Marco had compiled for it.
This was, without a doubt, the most amazing thing that had ever happened to me, and the best period of my life so far. I was seventeen, had an attic, had breasts, and was going to be a published author.
And, the next time I went with my mother and my sister Branca to the psychiatrist, the rainbow girl was there.
Everything happened so fast that I’ve never been able to recall all the details of that encounter, but I remember she was coming out just as we were going in, and we both stopped at the door and stood there looking at each other for what must have been just a couple of seconds. She said something like:
"Hi! How are you since the last time?"
And I must have replied:
"Good! I wanted to see you again."
"Really?" I remember her asking. "Why?"
"Oh, I don’t know…" and I really didn’t know what else to tell her, so I probably just blabbered something like:
"I guess I just like you."
She smiled and before I knew it she had given me a hug, and was saying something like she was late to go somewhere, but that I was very sweet, and could she have my number so that she could call me to go to a party sometime. I said:
And she grabbed her mobile to take my number, and asked me:
"What’s your name?"
And then she told me:
"I’m Kiss Peace, it’s really nice to meet you, but I really gotta go now, I’ll call you!" and ran away to catch a tram that had stopped a few seconds before and was about to move again.
"Bye," I told her and went into the waiting room, where my mother and my sister were looking at me quite surprised.
I kept to myself, though, and left them looking. My mother exclaimed:
"Come on, tell us!"
"There’s not much to tell, Mom."
"All right, all right," my mother sort of mumbled. "You finally show some interest in someone, and you don’t want to share it with us, that’s fine, that’s fine."
Kiss Peace. Interesting nick name. Maybe she was a pacifist. Her hair was no longer pink, it was blonde, and locked in dreads. She had on very colorful clothes again, and was wearing the same orange and metallic gray pants the garbage men wear to reflect the car lights at night.
She called me a few days later, on a Thursday, after dinner.
"It’s Kiss Peace," my mother told me when I was settling the dishes in the washer.
"Oh…" I dried my hands and grabbed the phone, quickly vanishing towards the hall and up the stairs to my attic. "Hi!" I said to her.
"Hi, Lara? How are you?"
"Oh, good, and you?"
"I’m wonderful! I’m sorry about leaving you in a hurry the last time, but I really had to meet my mom, you know?"
"Hey, I wanted to tell you, there’s a party tomorrow night in a boat just behind central station, it’s a trance party, do you like trance music?"
"Uh… I don’t know, really, but I’m willing to give it a try."
"Good! And have you ever been to the Boat of Fools?"
"No, I haven’t been anywhere, really."
"All right, well, it’s a nice place, so before the party, I would like to take you there."
"Do you have a bike?"
"Yes, I do."
"Well, I don’t, but if we meet at Central station, then I can take you on the back of your bike, or you can take me, do you think that’s okay?"
"Great! I don’t live in Amsterdam, so I’m coming by train and I don’t bring my bike with me!"
"No problem," I said.
"Okay, sweet Lara, we meet tomorrow at ten by the meeting point in Central Station?"
"Great, see you tomorrow!"
And we hung up. Again I felt that vacuum of energy all around me. Like most of the Dutch, she spoke English quite loud, and with an accent that sounded like she was a child who still couldn’t pronounce words well.
And suddenly there was just silence again, and she had taken all life away with her once more. Too bad she didn’t live in Amsterdam. I wondered if she lived very far away. I felt so happy talking to her, seeing her, that I would probably like to do that every day like I used to do in Lisbon with Sara or my brothers, or Gil.
The next night we met as planned. I was all dressed in black, as usual, and she came in colors. She reminded me of that song from the Rolling Stones, and she could easily be returning from Woodstock, although she was definitely a nineties version of the hippie’s revolution. She gave me a little hug and said:
"Look what I brought for you!" and she showed me a brown hat with orange fluff all around it.
"It’s cute," I told her.
"Try it on!" she asked.
And so I put on the hat. It fit me really well, and she exclaimed:
"You look really great with it! I knew it!"
"Thanks!" I said.
"You’re very welcome. Where’s your bike?"
"Okay, let’s go, I’ll show you Java Island!"
She took me on the back of my bike because I wasn’t used to taking anyone myself. It was really pretty behind the Central Station, and I had never been there before. We rode along the lake called The Ij, and I could see the lights of North Amsterdam on the other side of the water.
Shuttles were crossing it back and forward, taking people, bikes, and motorcycles. I could see the lights of the shuttles shining in the dark, spacey looking, and several boats floating along there, reminding me of the images of boats cruising the Mississippi.
"So, Kiss, why do you have such a nick name?" I asked her.
"What do you mean?" she replied. "Kiss Peace is my real name."
"Really?" I was surprised. "You mean your mom chose that name for you?"
"Yeah, why? Do you think it’s weird?"
"Oh, no… absolutely not! In fact, it’s a great name, and your mom… is she a hippie?"
"Actually, no, she’s quite a regular woman."
"All right, I see I can’t get anything right."
"That’s no problem, it’s funny that you thought I had a nick name. No one ever asked me that."
We crossed the bridge to Java Island, and I felt as if I was in a dream.
Everything around us was foggy and beautiful, the houseboats in the water, the lights of the bridge, the spacey looking buildings of the new Dutch architecture, the empty silent streets, and me wearing a fluffy orange hat, sitting on the back of a bike, drove by a girl who looked like some kind of shiny pixie.