It was an early summer morning when I met her. The air was already damp with the kind of warm humidity that makes even nakedness unbearable. Despite the heat, she wore skin tight jeans, dark dark blue. They looked like real denim, but I could see where their true elasticity helped accentuate the small curve of her thighs and ass.
She was wearing a loose fitting white tank top that draped over her chest and sides. The likeness of Jim Morrison was front and center, colored in a scale of greys.
She was standing on the corner of my city block with her big brown eyes fixed on the sky, squinting a bit to shield them from the sun. A cigarette dangling from her lips and her hands were cooperating to fix her hair into a pony tail, a low one. It was dirty blonde and reached a few inches below her shoulders after it was finally secured.
She shifted her weight onto her right side and placed her left foot on top of her right one, like a nervous child on the first day of a new school year. Her flip flops were shedding at the bottom from slapping against the concrete.
The curve of her lips mimicked the whatever the silent message her irises were aching but failing to convey.
For a second, I caught myself wondering what a thousand others must have wondered. How could someone so pretty be so angry, be so sad? And wondering like a concerned parent after their child wanders home displaying visible Implications of bullying, who did this to you?
I was there, watching her from a short distance, there weren’t many people awake yet. Not here. So I was hoping she’d feel my eyes moving up and down her being, and she’d scold me for my boyish impulsivity. Then in an angry tone, I’d imagined her telling me to get lost. And I’d be on my way. And she’d be unattainable. Like a catalogue model spread across innumerable covers, her photo shopped paper legs always damp from the shameless drool of school boys, I could walk away from her because she was hardly even real.
Instead, when those big brown eyes unfixed themselves from the sky, she turned toward me and offered half a smile. For which I was grateful. The whole thing almost drove me over the edge if it struck me straight away.
I hate summer.
She sighed. Her voice was powerful given her thin frame, but feminine; an aggressively coy roar from a lioness.
I smiled, a full smile, in response. Unsure what to say, and hoping she’d take the lead. I was out of practice, and had been, historically, out of luck.
What are you doing out here so early?
She asked me. And not in the normal way people ask such things. You can hear it, in their voices, eager for you to ask them the same question. Eager to turn their average city lives into epics and still ironically lament about their self-described pitiful existence. Instead she sounded genuinely interested to know why I was standing there, dumb and silent. Rehearsing a coherent response in my head.
I stifled a laugh and let her inquiry soak in my mind for a moment. Or two.
What am I doing here.
I mumbled audibly and nonchalantly. Stupid. I sounded like a parrot.
I shook my head and looked down. My frayed jeans sat on top of the black sneakers I’d thrown on to watch the sunrise. Not in the sky, but all around. I figured I’d try something new. So many people climb up onto the roofs, hungover, hungup, in young dumb love, to watch the sun leap into the sky. What about the streets, and buildings, and the strained eyes of joggers.
Trying to assess the beauty of a true sunrise.
Poetic as it was, it didn’t feel right.
She could tell. She was staring at me, patiently, understandingly. Trying to gauge my pain. Waiting for more.
I didn’t know what to say. My girlfriend up and left; said she didn’t know who I was, and she didn’t want to. Told me I didn’t have the flare she’s been looking for. Her ghost is in the apartment now.
Despite her being alive, somewhere, all she was had become dead to me. Should I tell her, I wondered, that I was up so early to get a head start praying for a new life, or because I didn’t plan on being much longer? I doubted revealing either would be wise.
You don’t have to tell me.
She laughed. Our shallow breaths filled the empty space where any other girl would tell me she knew exactly how I felt.
I watched her turn her head to catch a glimpse of her reflection in the window behind her. She cringed and turned away, attempting to hide her reaction. But the guilt spilling from her eyes as they met mine confirmed we all saw it. Myself, her, and glass her twin.
I smiled at her again.
I’m here because there didn’t seem any right place to be I guess.
I shrugged. She nodded, accepting my honest but evasive response.
I paused for a second, wondering if I wanted to direct the same question to her, or if I wanted her to remain distant, surreal, and unbound to humanness.
Her smile was growing and I was becoming weaker.
I knew how wrong it was to let myself want to move on already. I knew it’d be me who was hurt. But I did want to fight what I felt.
I extended my hand, and she her own. As they met I felt the softness and coolness of her skin. I regretted letting go of my hold as she reached for a cigarette from the pack in her pocket.
She lit it, inhaled, and closed her eyes.
She exhaled, and opened them once more. She took a step closer to me, examining my features. I felt vulnerable as her sad eyes searched me.
How can I help you?
I asked her as sincerely as I could.
The streets were becoming more alive now, the summer heat causing all those exposed to it to drag.
She moved even closer to me. She was about two inches shorter than me, I stand 5 ft 10. She smiled at me like she knew something I did not. Like words in a language can not be translated, and their depth may not be appreciated by non native speakers.
She tilted her head back, and kissed me. I parted my lips to let her inside, but she darted her tongue past mine but once before pulling away, and smiling, eyes and all.
Things will get better Navin.
She assured me.
But I can only help myself.
She turned her back and walked without a sound away from me. Her kiss lingering and tingling on my lips. Though it was insignificant compared to the buzzing in my chest.
I watched the most human goddess I’d ever met glisten in the last heavy waking blinks of the sunrise, and fade away.