Uhm....Workin' on it? This is just the beginning, so I'm not sure exactly where it's going, etc, etc, etc, but basically....there's this girl, and she's awe-inspiring--inhuman (but she is, I promise!) almost, in her beauty, intelligence. And she is majestically flawed. Should he fix her or watch her destroy herself?
I will never be able to forget the first time I saw her.
The end of August, when long warm nights where the sky was dusky lemon with tinges of peach and pink and orange and the days were long and the sun glinted off of every surface faded into autumn and the start of school--shortening days when the crisp sunlight that filtered through the golds and reds and browns to the mottled sidewalk leaves that crunched as they died beneath your feet dropped into cool nights, silent because everyone is doing schoolwork. Sweet welcome breezes, scented with tangy lemonade and overly sweet popsicles and creamy ice cream, shifted to the constant flow of chilled air that rustled the dry leaf corpses, frail and crinkled like lost bits of paper, that clung to the stripped branches with an almost desperate tenacity and lay on the ground, fluttering weakly, tossed around, like featherless baby birds, thin pink-grey skin too diaphanous for the wind that tosses them about.
I was at the mall on a Friday night, shopping for new clothes with my older brother Dan and his best friend Jeremy. The mall was full of people, all swirling around like fish in an aquarium--there were different schools of fish. There were the emo kids, hanging around Hot Topic, dressed in dark jeans and T-shirts, copious amounts of hair flung in their faces in a way that looked careless but you knew they probably checked it in every reflective surface. There were the older women, hanging desperately to their youth, dragging their pudging husbands behind them, getting their hair colored, shopping for their kids, always smelling slightly of food as they walked past you. The endless couples, with those smiles so wide they should have been fake, holding hands, or linking arms, smiling and laughing obliviously. The preppy kids that only shopped at Hollister, or American Eagle, or Aeropastle, or Pink, and proudly proclaimed so with every article of clothing they owned, swaggering by in various shade of plaid.
No one was at the mall alone--everyone had at least one friend to hang out with, because being at the mall by yourself meant you were a loser. People that didn’t have anyone to go with didn’t go, or found some pseudo-friend or relative to go with. At least I thought all people were like that, but she was there all alone. I think, if she had the choice, she would be alone almost all of the time.
I caught my first glimpse of her in the Macy’s guys department, where Jeremy wanted to look for new jeans. I was pawing absent-mindedly through a rack of T-shirts, thinking about the implications of consumerism on art and expression, when I caught a glimpse of black hair on the other side of the rack. I glanced up, reflexively more than anything, but my gaze was held when I actually saw her. I wasn’t the only one staring either--I could see several guys gaping at her from the other side of the aisle.
She was all sleek, messy black hair, tossed uncaringly in every direction, reaching down her back like some sort of silky vine, tendrils curling up against her leather jacket. Several caressed her face, that pale, creamy, ivory face, set like a star amongst her ebony hair. She was beautiful, no one would ever doubt or question that, but the degree of her beauty was almost terrifying, and the more beautiful for that. Her beauty seemed unnatural, wild but somehow also more refined than humanly possible. She had a gently angled jaw, smooth like a river rock, with high cheekbones and full cheeks, pale lips, full and rounded, pursed as she contemplated a white button-up. But it was the eyes that made her so incredibly beautiful--they were like some sort of magic bringing an angelic statue to life. Her eyes amaze me to this day, and will never cease to inspire awe and fear in me. Her eyes were very large, tilted up, open but far away, musing about things that are incomprehensible to most people. Those eyes were bright, even while narrowed at the shirt in her delicate hands. One eye was a translucent, almost electric blue, though I would come to learn that it could darken to a violent sapphire depending on her mood. The other was a mossy green, bringing to mind forbidden forests and olden days when humans were much closer to animals. Both irises were darkly rimmed, and her eyes were framed by long lashes as dark as her hair, thick and fringed.
My first thought was that she had to be some sort of illusion, perhaps induced by the overwhelming fumes of body spray that wafted through every section of the mall. She didn’t seem real--she seemed somehow beyond, somehow better, too fantastic to be merely human--a mirage. At that first sighting, she looked like an angel sent down from somewhere, a perfect being come to save our souls. I should have known, of course, as she would often remind me later, that perfection does not exist.
Later, I would always consider it a miracle that she looked at me. Me. Of all the people who doubtlessly gazed at her each and every day, she looked at me, she saw me as even I couldn’t see myself, she saw some beauty that was lurking deep inside, some beauty that called to her. Or maybe she found me curious, an anomaly that needed to be explored, though I would always maintain that she was the one who was interesting--I was as average as American pie, a staple, an extra, even in my own life. I was no star, no focus, no one of interest. But she saw something, and the glance in my direction was not another of the cursory flits that she used when considering most people--she looked at most things around her like scenery, a background, wallpaper. But for some reason, she actually looked at me.
Our eyes met. And for an instant, so brief I would spend the whole night wondering if it had actually happened, we connected. I could feel her...that energy, that constantly working mind, that otherness...I could feel it inside of me. I could feel her exploring me. I saw the world from her eyes, and she saw it from mine. And then something cracked, and I was plunged back into my reality. I felt like a mother whose newborn had been plucked from her arms, an artist whose eyes had been ripped from his skull. She was still looking at me, and I, unabashed in my confusion and disorientation, was gaping at her.