she's Perfect, that Lily Christianson

Declan, she asks me, sending my heart skipping as my name drops from her lips. I look over at her imploring face, that soft white oval I see in my mind again and again. She asks if I had ever dreamt of anything more than this, this already perfect scene spinning circles around us.

“Of course, Lily,” I reply, a drop of sadness infusing my voice with a serious tone. “It’s in our nature to never be satisfied, to always dream and aspire for more and more.”

I begin to ramble: “I mean, sure, I’m happy now, but I can’t help to wonder if I could be happier than this. I know from experience that, sometimes, my vision of happiness falls apart in my hands, but other times I find greater happiness around the corner, y’know? I’m here, now, happy as I’ve ever been, but could it be better? Would I have more happiness if I had a designer wardrobe? A four course meal for lunch from that delicious restaurant up the street? A slowly melting ice cream cone in one hand and a child’s own hand in my other?”

I turn to her again, and she’s smiling back at me.

“Sorry, sometimes I don’t know when to stop,” I stammer, caught in her intoxicating gaze.

Her laugh, too, is infectious, and I echo it mere moments after it bubbles out from her. Even the water in the harbour seems to share her sentiments, the water sloshing and gurgling as it rises and falls, splashing against the sides of boats.

And then she says that my last thought would increase her happiness a hundredfold, and a thousandfold if on the other side of the child was the man she loved.

Our eyes are locked, our lunches forgotten.

Her smile melts into a grin, twitching at the side of her face. She turns away from me slowly, eyes cast out like a net over the seascape.

I turn, too, but not until I’d committed every curve and crease of her profile to my memory, locked safe forever. She was everything I’d ever wanted, ever imagined. Nothing seemed out of place on her, nothing foreign or unnatural. She was, well–

“She’s much too perfect. Those perfect women are always so hollow.”

I felt as if suddenly awoken from a dream, unable to discern if what I had witnessed was real or not.

Lily’s voice beside me rang sweetly in my ears, calling me further from my reverie. She had to be back somewhere soon, so she was getting up to go.

I sigh and bid her farewell, watching as she sways off into the crowd. I sit there for a few minutes, eyes locked on the horizon, a tangle of masts and cables and lines foregrounding the slender line between sea and sky.

And as I finally rise to leave, scooping our twin boxes in hand, I notice that hers is untouched, full to the brim where mine is near empty. It’s unimportant, though, because I think I’ve just been on a date.

A date with Lily Christianson.

The End

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