Miguel sat on the shelf, admiring Lola the way he always did. He was in love from the moment he first laid eyes on her. Because he was a simple farmer, being in the presence of such beauty tied his tongue. Her face, Miguel would say to himself, must be what angels look like.
Miguel was poor. He owned no shoes, wore overalls, a threadbare chequered shirt, and a tattered straw hat, all of which were befitting of a peasant. They were his only clothes. Burdened by his common man status, he could not bring himself to tell Lola how he felt. His deepest fear was that of her rejection, for this would confirm for him just how common he was. So there he sat, day after day and night after night, arms held open, wishing somehow for the void to be filled.
Lola knew she was beautiful. Her long black hair tumbled and cascaded to her hips. Her large brown eyes accentuated her high cheeks and full lips. Her wardrobe selection was vast and all of it served well her perfectly sculpted figure. With the accents of her jewelry, Lola became radiant.
Lola had noticed Miguel looking at her, and felt flattered, but she was more interested in Ted. His handsome face, his fabulous car, his self-assured manner, offered everything a girl could want. The attraction to Ted and his nice things brought a tinge of guilt to Lola, because she knew these things were transitory in nature, and should not define the man. Lola had a heart to share, but it must be with the right one. This she told herself often.
In his life of privilege, Ted carried himself with an air of confidence. He had a smile that revealed glistening, perfectly straight white teeth. His even tan and muscular physique were second to none. And like Lola, he had a wardrobe of all the latest styles. To his delight, his car, an Italian import, and his jet ski built for two, evoked envy wherever he showed them off.
Ted believed no girl could resist his possessions, his good looks, and his charm. He set his sights on Lola from the moment he arrived. He knew it was just a matter of time before they were together. He believed himself to be quite a catch, and wanted Lola as his trophy.
The bedroom, with its four-poster bed, walnut dressing table, and French lace curtains, was designed and furnished to indulge a little girl’s fancy.
The one large window that overlooked the Pacific Ocean provided a breathtaking view of the glistening blue horizon and the endless parade of ships that sailed by. From the curtains hung numerous small crystal prisms. Each evening as the sun began to set, there would come a bedazzling array of rainbow sprites that would appear on the walls. If the window would be open, the ocean breezes would glide in and cause the sprites to dance and shimmer in celebration of the setting sun.
The shelving near the bed held books of fairy tales, snow globes from around the world, delicate hand blown glass animals, and other such keepsakes. But there was one shelf that was special to the little girl, because that shelf was home to Miguel, Lola, and Ted.
Before anyone, there was Miguel. He was a perfect playmate and was happy to go wherever the little girl wanted to take him. The shelf was his and he happily called the room his home.
Then, one day, a girl arrived. Her face had Miguel spellbound. He knew from that moment his life would be different. It took Miguel two full weeks to finally get the courage to ask her name. When she looked up at him, those beautiful brown eyes made him light-headed. “Lola,” was all she said.
That was enough for Miguel. Her name, he thought, matched her beauty. He said her name to himself over and over until it became a song in his heart. But Miguel didn’t know how to talk to Lola. He was, after all, a peasant in the presence of something that came from heaven. Worried he would say something that would offend her in some way, he struggled to say anything. Being well aware of his station in life, he had nothing to offer other than what she saw in front of her.
Lola found Miguel’s shyness endearing, yet frustrating. She stifled her delight when Miguel would stutter and stammer, but at the same time she wished he had the courage to talk to her. She loved going places with the little girl and Miguel, and she knew he enjoyed it too. But too often were the times in the still and quiet of the night that she ached for someone to talk to.
Finally, her wish for conversation was answered. It came in the form of Ted, who immediately began talking to Lola, taking care to flash a smile from his perfectly white teeth. Miguel could see that she was smitten. He noticed too, that Ted was smitten – with himself.
Miguel watched Ted admire himself in the rear view mirror of his car. It was obvious as Ted talked to Lola he was feigning interested in what she had to say. After Lola would answer a question, Ted would steer the conversation back toward himself, his car, and his jet ski, while being sure to expose his tan by wearing his shirt unbuttoned to his naval.
Ted had noticed how Miguel looked at Lola, but he was not worried. Ted knew Miguel couldn’t compete with him. He would remind Miguel of this whenever he could by telling him how common he was with his few paltry possessions and his rags for clothes. At every opportunity, Ted would say that he himself was exceptional, and Lola would soon forget Miguel ever existed.
Ted and Lola were becoming inseparable, and Miguel was growing weary of playing the part of a spectator. He made up his mind to find the courage to talk to her and tell her how he felt. He waited for the right moment that night, and just as he was about to finally speak, Ted spoke first.
“Miguel, I know what you’re doing,” said Ted.” Do you see my car, my jet ski, the clothes I wear? These are the things that impress Lola. What have you got? What can you do for her? Do you think she cares about a lowly peasant such as yourself, someone with dirt under his fingernails? I think you better go back to working in your field and forget about her.”
Miguel was silent. He began to think that Ted might be right. What could he do for her? He had no possessions. His shyness kept him silent when she was near. All he could ever offer her was the love that burned in his heart, but little else. The image of him as being nothing better than the dirt from the field crushed Miguel and he lost what little courage he had left. He sadly thought to himself that Lola will never know of his love for her.
But Lola had been watching Miguel, and knew he had finally summoned the courage to approach her and talk. She could see a look of desperation in his eyes, yet along with that there was an expression of warmth not present in Ted. In Ted, there was nothing reciprocal, and she began to weigh Ted’s looks and possessions against what she knew Miguel had to offer.
The next afternoon, the little girl along with her family, left for the day. Ted seized the moment to impress Lola with his latest possession, a new motorcycle. Miguel remained silent as Ted flexed and smiled and caught glimpses of himself in the shiny chrome of his newest toy.
Ted was offering Lola a ride, but he was caught in mid-sentence by a sudden shaking. It was an earthquake and the shelf in the room was rocking back and forth. The rainbow sprites began cavorting wildly. The snow globes toppled and rolled in augmented semicircles before falling and shattering. The glass animals were sliding on the shelf, as if in a frenzied stampede, until one by one they dove over the edge where they too shattered as they hit the floor.
In another part of the home, a gas line had broken and the rooms were filling with the dangerous fumes. All at once, aided by the stove pilot light, the gas exploded. Miguel, Lola, Ted, along with Lola and Ted’s possessions, were ejected from their shelf and fell, landing amidst the broken glass, water, and books. The resulting fire was rapidly spreading.
Miguel landed on top of Lola and was covering her with his body. He told her not to worry, that he would protect her. He began to sing to her the only song he knew, A La Puerta Del Cielo, to keep her focus away from the flames.
Lola, never before witnessing such unselfish bravery, realized that not only did Miguel really love her, but after all this time, she was in love with him.
In the meantime, Ted and his motorcycle had fallen in another direction. The chrome trim reflected the assemblage of rainbow pixies that danced in time with the earth’s tremors. Ted saw himself in the chrome, highlighted by the pixies, and became transfixed. He thought the rainbow highlights were the perfect accessory to complete his persona.
The heat from the fire was intensifying. Miguel could feel the strange sensation that his body was losing its rigidity. His arms began wrapping around Lola, and he continued to softly sing as he embraced her. He could feel the weight of his loneliness lifting. The terrible void that had troubled him for so long was filling as their bodies began to form around each other.
Lola also felt her body beginning to soften. She sensed that the physical boundaries of their bodies was losing its definition, and that they were fusing into a single, sanctified being.
As the fire continued to rage, they became lighter than air. They swirled and danced about and above the room. They continued to soar, above the trees, the clouds, and into the heavens. They found themselves forever free and together.
Ted was still mesmerized. He and his image gazed at each other as the heat bore down. It wasn’t long before they too became one. And the rainbow sprites happily danced, as they always did, until the sun went down.