We had a one beautiful girl in our class. Her beauty was relevant and in demand from the first grade until her death at the age of 24. Bethany died of an unhappy love affair.
She had fantastically thick blond hair below her waist, soft skin with a blush and huge gray eyes. The fact that she had fat and not the most shapely legs, a small mouth, and a dozen other flaws did not spoil her at all. Such things were simply not noticed back then. Yeah, she also had a bit of a clubfoot, which only added to her charm.
Bethany had an early crush on boys, an early love interest. We were terribly jealous of her. We thought she was the luckiest. And we were so-so and our life was so-so. Against her backdrop. We had our victories and joys, though.
She was the first to lead an adult female life, hooking up with the bass player of a rock band that was popular in our town at the time. All the girls around me in the late ’70s were crazy about guys from the music scene. Either a lyceum student (a future translator), or a military school cadet, or a rock musician – the other young men somehow fell out of our field of vision. It was a mistake, of course.
My first husband, by the way, was also a rocker. But I was luckier than Bethany. My marriage had lasted less than a year, but she had fallen in love once and forever (if death at 24 could be considered “forever”).
Bethany was not only beautiful but also smart. Although she got B’s and C’s because she often skipped school. She was also very good at drawing. I remember one time we went to a country camp. Bethany found some charcoal and some paint somewhere and painted all the walls of our barracks with fairy princesses, unicorns, and princes. We were delighted. The bosses of camp had a scandal and made us paint over everything. But Bethany’s reputation as a beauty was added to her reputation as an painter.
In high school, Bethany started dating an adult guitarist. And dropped out of high school. Bethany told me it was “the one, true love until the grave”. Even though the guitarist didn’t promise her anything and he had lots of girlfriends. And the bastard married another girl.
Bethany was only 17 years old at that moment. She broke down, started sleeping with all the boys in a row. She left home, her parents went crazy. She lived with friends and random men. Bethany started drinking and trying all kinds of crap.
She was a beautiful, intelligent, kind girl. But, as it turned out, weak in every way. Bethany didn’t know how to take a punch of fate. There are women who would be better off not loving at all, because in love they completely lose their dignity, independence and sanity. Crazy love is hell for both the woman and the unhappy man she has chosen. There is no escaping it. And she herself can’t run away from it. It’s like being “tied by the same rope to a madman”.
When she was 19, some translator fell in love with her. He was five years older than her. He married Bethany, took her to his place on the outskirts of the country. She gave birth to a daughter. But even that couldn’t stop her.
Every night she wore makeup, dressed up, and disappeared until morning. She was seen with different men and in places where a normal woman should not and would not appear.
A mutual friend of ours was visiting Bethany. And after watching this nightmare, she asked her husband:
– Why don’t you stop her? Tie her to a radiator, beat her so she’s afraid of you, send her to therapy, tell her you’ll leave her otherwise. Do anything.
– I can’t live without her. I will close my eyes to everything, as long as she does not leave me.
Bethany’s daughter lived with her parents in our town. The girl was three years old when Bethany came to visit. She came with her husband.
A couple of days later, she disappeared. After that, we were called to identify her at the morgue.
What happened? As it turned out, Bethany hadn’t come to see her daughter at all, but to meet her guitarist again. She’d had an enormous amount of hard drinks that night… And eventually she collapsed unconscious and the guitarist called an ambulance.
The ambulance arrived 20 minutes later, she was loaded into the car, where she briefly regained consciousness and spoke to the doctors:
– Save me. I want to live. I have a little daughter…
But it was too late. The doctors couldn’t save Bettany. Her heart failed. At the autopsy, it turned out that she shouldn’t have drank hard alcohol at all, because she had a bad heart since childhood. We didn’t know.
I am 61 today and Bethany would have been the same age. At least she stole 35 years of her life.
I think: good thing I wasn’t such a beauty. It’s a good thing crazy love had passed me by. And that was what beckoned in my youth, what I wanted (fatal passions, fatal beauty). If I could have stockpiled something for the rest of my life, I would not have stockpiled academic knowledge, nor would I have stockpiled experiences of life and love. I would only ask God for sanity and moderation. In my opinion, that is the only guarantee of happiness.
And also the key to happiness is the ability to withstand the blow of fate. Unfortunately, few children are taught this by their parents. But life is a cruel teacher.