- Simplicio Villarreal
The day I met Empress Lilitha
June 15, 2020
Empress Lilitha has been here since before she was born. She was banging on the big wooden door, demanding to confess she had just eaten a chocolate. She had an appointment, not at any time in particular, but the time had come. The big wooden doors didn’t open, so Lilitha screamed at the top of her lungs. She started to get anxious, as she had a class to go to, and when she looked up from her phone, she turned and saw me sitting on a bench.
I had been sitting on that bench for the last forty minutes, or maybe more. It’s hard to tell, since I had no way of measuring time, other than by the amount of water collected on my raincoat and my previously dry socks.
“ Can we take a selfie?” asked the Empress.
“I saw you from a distance and could tell you were a spirit - a good one - so I want to remember you.”
Only half our faces were able to fit in the screen - a full brown raincoat and a half pink smile. For a few brief seconds, the screen showed an everlasting Empress and a lost, wet spirit. I think she had a different way of remembering, since the camera shutter never went off.
“That should be enough. I better go now - I have an appointment.”
But I hadn’t had enough, so I asked where she was from. Every moment grew more interesting, as maybe only once in a lifetime would we ever meet an Empress with a compassionate soul.
“I have a confession. Open the door.”
The doors didn’t open and Lilitha turned, realizing she had to give up.
“People don’t like me. They say I’m passionate or maybe they think I’m crazy, but I don’t think so. Have you smelled the city lately? It smells rotten, like a cadaver that has been decomposing for a long time. Of course you can’t really smell it, but you know what I mean, right?”
I said I did, and I believed it. We couldn’t smell it, but something dark was lurking out of so many people’s souls. It started when our freedom was stripped naked from us - when our windows turned into display shops and the crows had more time to entertain their evenings with the sight of silly humans bouncing their heads off the walls.
“I have been homeless for a year and a half, just like that statue. Every night I sleep on a bench somewhere in the downtown Eastside. I love this country, but not that street. -
I have a confession to make. I ate a chocolate. Open the door!”
screamed Lilitha as she handed me the last of the chocolates she brought. She said it was the best chocolate I would ever try. I think she told me where it came from, but I forgot.
“Don’t worry, it’s COVID-free, so you can have it. Anyway, the people are rotting and no one knows where to go. I like this building. It’s all stone and concrete - only the doors are something that I could burn. - I have an appointment. Open the door! - I wish I had torched and burned down the door so nothing more would happen. How fun - fire trucks rushing because I knocked and no one bothered to open the door. Maybe I would have been taken to a hospital. Maybe I would have commited suicide.”
“I hope you don’t, for what would we do without our beloved Empress?”
I think her class was about to start because she opened her black umbrella and looked at her phone. Her purse and handbag were leaning against the wooden panels of the still locked door.
“Have you meet King Shah?” asked Lillitha.
“I haven’t had the pleasure. Who might he be, and where can I meet him?”
“That I can’t tell you- about who he is - but you should meet him. I think you’ll like him, as he’s a great king, but I cannot tell you more. Anyway, I have to get going, I hope to see you again. I’m always here. Come more often - you’ll find me."
Lillitha picked up her belongings, and with her bright pink lips, she smiled at me, and then at the sky and the clouds. As she was going down the steps, she stopped and reflected on the rusty metal on the church - another thing that was disintegrating. As if remembering something, Liliitha made her way back up to the door.
“ How should I remember you? Do you have a name? What is it?"
“My name is Luis. I hope I get to see you again.”
“You will. I won’t forget.”
Lillitha left, but the sound she made while knocking on those doors remained. And I thought about how many people were in that exact moment knocking on some other doors, bringing confession or asking to be heard. People trying to understand where their lives went and when will they get them back. And who is inside? Can they hear the pounding? Can they hear the screams that every day become louder because everyone nowadays refuses to hear?
I thought about the doors I am knocking on and who I want to see on the other side.
But what if I’m inside the door, and someone outside is knocking? Have I been too deaf to listen to Lillitha and her voice? Have I been ignoring someone who’s loving and caring, with chocolates outside, waiting for me to open the door?