by A W Miller

Who is that girl?

She's beautiful and leggy and I don't know her name.

Her eyes are dark and narrowed and scary. She just scanned the room in the blink of an eye. And when she blinked, I could hear her dark and heavy lashes batting against her cheek, and when she opened them she read my soul.

Her lips move ever so carefully and she pronounces every word with thoughtful consideration. And when she speaks, her voice comes out smooth yet raspy, in some sort of smoky effect and good Jesus it's so sexy and it drives me wild. If she said my final words to me on my deathbed surely I could die a happy man, couldn't I?

She moves like a cat, almost crawling through the air. She places one foot in front of the other delicately and floats through space and I wonder if there is even gravity around her. Even as she moves, her dark and shiny hair seems to move about her head as if she were walking under water, wildly yet gracefully flying around. Her motions are all so fluid, I feel like I'm at the ballet and really I'm watching this girl get a cup of coffee.

Sometimes I see her out in the world, the sun shining on only her, her footsteps disappearing immediately so nobody can ever track this creature, no one can know where she comes from or where she goes. She wears sunglasses and looks at nobody (not me ever) and I wish I was that cigarette that she presses between her lips and drinks from so sweetly. I wish to be the object of her cravings, to be inhaled into her lungs, even if it means I will be burned away and destroyed forever.

In my dreams, she appears as a masked figurine, casting no shadow. She dances around and teases me throughout the night and finally, when my hand is but a breath away from hers and my lips eagerly reach to drink from her rounded mouth, a dreaded buzzing sound comes and she blows up in a puff of smoke. And then back in reality, she taunts me still, brushing past me in a crowded hallway or reaching across me for a spoon as I desperately inhale her, a delightful smell of a mix of cigarette smoke and incense and shampoo and sometimes her perfume mingled deep within. Her face passes so closely to mine it's unnerving; I have but a single centimeter to move to taste the honey of her skin.

I don't know her. I don't know her at all. I don't think I could ever speak to her without passing out. I want so desperately to let her see that I alone know how luminous she is; that I am the only one who will ever understand that she is such a glorious creature on the outside only due to the pure beauty that resides in the sparkle in her eye and mind. Oh please my angel, my goddess, my Aphrodite, if only you knew. I can't think, I can't move, dear Lord I can't even breathe knowing that she treads the same soft earth as me and that maybe, just maybe, she wishes upon the same star as me.

Maybe I don't remember how she gets to my bed, and maybe I'm simply choosing not to tell anybody, not even myself, but somehow one chilly night with a full moon, there she is. Her breath smells of vodka and her skin smells of coconut tanning oil and for a moment I'm afraid that her buttery body will melt under my covers. Her hair is tousled about on my pillowcase like a maze that I'm dying to find my way through. Her cheeks are flushed and warm and her eyes open only every now and then but when they do it breaks my heart. And though she may not realize it, though she may not even care, for the time that I am with her, that I am inside of her and she is breathing and moaning softly in my ear, I am transcended to another world and I never want to leave. For once, my dream is rubbing her soft skin against mine and her tiny hands are running down my back. When she falls asleep, I probably spend an hour staring at the little tattoo of a broken heart on her inner thigh, wondering who could have pained her so badly to make her want to forever etch it onto her flesh.

In the middle of the night, I roll over to find her missing from my side and through sleepy eyes I see her sitting next to the window, cloaked in my mother's chenille throw. As she coolly smokes her cigarette, the moonbeams reflect on her forehead and create a dreamy halo amidst her blackened silhouette. She exhales her final drag, closes her eyes (her dark lashes extending like spider's legs) and then in a moment of strangely dignified glory puts her cigarette out on her forearm. She remains frozen in this mildly neurotic and yet freakishly beautiful pose for what seems like a lifetime, not ever flinching much less breathing. Following this display of either passion or insanity (to this day I cannot decide which), she gets dressed in the dark, moving quietly as an Indian hunter and at the same time teetering unstably from sleepiness and whatever leftover White Russians flowed through her blood stream. I want to scream out and grab her; I want to let her know that I am not like the rest of them, that I would cherish her beautiful and pained soul for life but instead, I lay there stupidly pretending that I am still asleep when I have never been more awake in my life. She slips out the door like a shadow and for the rest of the night I am immobilized in amazement, the lingering smell of smoke being the only thing convincing me that all that happened to me that night was not a dream. It was not a dream.

To this day, I remain in a state of shock from that night. My friends notice the change in me and yet I refuse to speak of these events. Though I would love to shout it from the rooftops, I feel that no matter how I tell the story, I will never be able to do justice to the pure beauty that I witnessed that night. I fear that people would only see as far as to label her a drunk and a whore and perhaps a sociopath and be done with it. Nobody will ever be able to understand unless they witness what I did, but if and when they ever do, I know they will be as captivated and entranced as I was that night that I hugged my flannel sheets and watched through half-closed eyes. Every night I send a prayer out to the gods and angels of vodka and cigarettes to please send this dark-haired messenger back to me but they never answer. And though every now and then I see her shuffling about, nursing a hangover with a cup of coffee, she but hardly acknowledges me with a blink that may only be a piece of dust in her eye. Because I am still hardly wiser since that night that I let her leave, I continue to simply watch her from afar, never approaching her, never reminding her of what she shared with me, and never letting her know that it meant the world to me. However, part of me does this because for some reason, I suppose she actually would not care at all. She would laugh and toss her hair and tell me not to be stupid, and then she would flick her cigarette butt in the air and walk away as it burned painfully to me but never to her.

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