Sarah's favorite memory is one she does not remember. She has, however, seen it in her dreams. The light in the bedroom is soft. The light changes the the movement of the girl and her mother into dark intricacies along the wall. The girl moves her hand, making the shape of a flat "c" with her fingers, the fingertips close together. Something that is not her hand forms a swan on the wall. She giggles. Her mother is whispering to her, quietly, as not to wake the others. There is something beautiful and astonishing about talking into the small hours of the night, as if the closer to sleep a conversation is, the more personal everything becomes. Everything begins to carry more weight, begins to hold more importance.
Sarah's mother is telling her of the beauty that she has seen, of the loud of an enormous, cascading waterfall or of the quiet calm of snow falling. They do this frequently, almost every single night. Both the girl and the mother look forward to it every day.
The girl is four years old, and already the person she will be for the rest of her life. To her it is and always will be very simple. If she wants or needs anything she will go and get it, and if something is not to be hers it is not to be hers. Even as a young child, she speaks with an air of confidence and intelligence mixed with curious childlike wonder that lacks constraints of fear of contradiction or judgement. Embarrassment simply does not have a place. This is who she was when she was four years old, and it is who she will always be.
Her childhood is fast and blurry. The only powerful thing that sticks with her is her mother. As a teenager, she fills the role of a rebellious teenager quite well. She plays loud music, goes to concerts, and smokes. She mixes stolen vodka from her parent's liquor cabinet with orange juice from the fridge, and makes mistakes on it. She dyes her hair a variety of colors, tries to paint, tries to write dark poetry. None of these things work out very well.
Sarah grows up attractive, and is often approached by persuasions of the opposite gender. She evaluates them, but not in a robotic or mechanical way. She just knows exactly what she's looking for. If they hold to her standards, she asks them what kind of commitment they want. She then smiles sadly, apologizes, then tells them what kind of commitment she wants. They back off, intimidated or scared. They tell her to fuck off, laugh at her, or just politely excuse themselves. She doesn't care. It's all the same to her. Simple.
Sarah wants someone to spend the rest of her life with. Everyone she's ever met and everything she's ever heard has pointed towards her being happier with a significant other. Sarah is just able to simplify it for herself. If it doesn't work out, then it doesn't work out. It breaks, then you try again. For her love is a choice, not uncontrollable. She sees people caught in a web of it, endless heartbreak and musing over what to do and what to say. It's like a game, with rules and levels of play. For her it is so much simpler. For her there is no game.
This aggressive approach fails to work the first three and a half years of high school. It does nothing to deter her. Boys kept approaching, and she kept asking. They kept pushing away. She developed a bit of a reputation eventually, known as the weird one, or the clingy one, or in some circles, the crazy one. She didn't care.
Then, in her senior year. A boy named Peter turned and looked at her in class. And he smiled. And that was it. It hit her like a freight train. She had never felt anything like what she felt that day, that electricity. It was warm and addictive, a little bit too intense. It lasted a second, everywhere in her body, and then it was gone. She smiled back at him. Maybe if she wasn't who she was, she would have waited, played the game until he came to her. And this is not the wrong way to do it. But she was very much exactly who she was. And she knew there was no wrong way.
She walked up to him after class, a little bit nervous. She had never been nervous before. It wasn't a choice, like it had been before, it just came to her. She reached out, and hesitated. And tapped him on the shoulder. Seconds dragged out as he turned, her brain imagining every possible thing that could happen, any possible thing he could say. She could see them all, and she knew exactly what she wanted. He turned to face her and smiled again. It was that smile that made her so sure, the confidence that reminded her so much of herself. She could see things in him she loved in herself, and she felt this more than anything she had ever touched upon before. His smile lit a fire inside her, and she didn't want to ever let that go.
She took a deep breath, and started to talk. About who she was, what she had just felt, and everything that she wanted. Just right there, in the middle of the hallway. She waited for the inevitable laugh and rejection, or the freak out. All the other times, she hadn't ever felt anything close to pain when the boys did this, just satisfaction that she had struck another one off her list. This time was different. She knew this time would hut.
But he didn't walk away. He didn't freak out. He didn't even laugh. He just nodded, and kept smiling, as if his opinion wasn't important enough to voice. He stared off into the middle distance, lost in thought, mulling it over. Then, quite suddenly, he leaned in and kissed her, hard. She had never kissed a boy before, owing to her rampant rejection streak, and it was something she liked very much. She pushed back against him, kissing him back, reflecting the pressure.
He broke away, a glassy, disoriented look in his eyes. Then, without saying a word, he smiled again, and walked away down the hall. She stood there watching him go, thrown off, surprised, and a little bit in love. It was cold, because it was January, but she felt warm and bubbly, something powerful coursing through her like wildfire. She had found what she was looking for.