words by ED & KATE musicians “BEST YOUTH” photographed by FREDERICO MARTINS 

BEST YOUTH

“Aline had never seen a fox in the wild until that night. She always pictured them as silent, reclusive creatures, hidden in shadows, but there she was standing a mere twenty feet from one. The fox stood motionless right in the middle of the street, with it’s bright shimmering eyes fixated on hers, breathing slowly like a 1970s Challenger running on Idle. Confused and scared, she wondered if she had finally lost her mind. If what she felt had spread so fast through her bloodstream that it had consumed her brain, conquering all the neighbouring organs with flashes of heat and tremors. “Has my heart gone rogue?”, she wondered. And if there was in fact a rebellion going on inside of her, was she the ageing emperor clinging to power or the People who rebelled against all odds? Whichever side she was on, all those questions and doubts were distilled to a simple thought: “This is how I want to feel for the rest of my life.” Aline´s mind had always struggled to find out what love really was, how it worked. All her life she was expected to end up like one of those couples on old TV Commercials, where everything is in it’s right place and everyone is happy. She should aspire to be “normal”, to have a normal life. The great big cookie cutter perfect future. If she wanted to find true love, this was what she needed to do, and as doubtful as she might have been, Aline yearned to score that elusive magical state of contentment. So she decided to give it a shot. She was given little rules and directions. A sort of checklist that, properly completed, would make her extremely likeable. And likeable, it seemed, was something every girl should strive for. “What’s the point of being liked if it’s only because you check a few square boxes on somebody else’s list?”, she thought. That unnerving feeling had always been present in the depths of her mind, but she decided to play along. If those were the rules of love, she was determined to pass with flying colours. But after trying so hard to conform to those standards, something was amiss. She finally had a perfect relationship, a perfect life, a perfect future, yet she felt completely drained, as if she had been losing part of herself all along. Aline felt she was investing her love and not getting any of it back, and that made her question its value: “Love can’t be a transaction, how could you possibly put a price on love? And if it is, what does that say about MY love? Will I get any of it back if I give all of it away?” Everything collapsed right at that moment. Aline broke away from everything in her life and went on a journey, an odyssey to the depths of the heart, one so deep that she was actually afraid of what she could find. But beneath all the rules, behind all the facades and play-alongs, beyond the fake implanted feelings of belonging and purpose, Aline found… Aline. It was all about her. She was the piece that was missing. For the longest time, she was convinced that giving all of herself away would lead her to true love, that if she managed to please everyone around her, the Universe would pat her on the back and reward her with the secret to finding it. But the secret was out, and it was the complete opposite of what she believed: She just had to do whatever the hell she felt like doing. Not in an egotisticalidonotcareaboutwhatotherpeoplethink kind of way, but merely to put her own feelings and desires first. A whole existence spent searching and there it was in all it’s splendour! Life’s grand slam! That revelation spread like an atom bomb inside her: a sense of independence and self-confidence had gained power. Aline was no longer a mere reflection of those around her, she was her own. Suddenly the fear was gone and her mind was as clear as the summer night sky. Aline stared into the fox’s eyes and approached it quietly. She kneeled down and whispered to it:

“Love is a black hole that lures you in and keeps you guessing. It’s just waiting there for anyone who wants it, needs it, dreams of it or just happens to stumble upon it. You should dive into the obliviousness head first… You never know what you’ll come back with, and that’s what makes it special.”

But the fox was unmoved by Aline’s words… It’s slow growl deepened and, in a flash, It lunged toward Aline pinning her to the ground. Before she could move a muscle, it had sunk its teeth so deep into her neck that she was unable to make a sound. Panic flooded her and left her completely frozen… She was certain it was the end, that she would die at that moment and worse of all, it would have been her fault. “What was I thinking? I’m no match for a fox, foxes are smart and cunning and vicious and fierce. They always have their way, no matter what. I thought I had the upper hand and look where it got me… ” Suddenly the fox let go and ran into the distance. She gasped and felt her neck to assess the damage and was surprised to find it was only lightly scratched and bruised. The fox had let her live. Aline went back to her life and immediately felt the warm embrace of routine and predictability. She felt safe, and it turns out she could now love that feeling way more than she did before. Everything was in it’s right place and everyone was happy. The fox watched from a distance and grinned, knowing it wouldn’t be the last time they would meet…”