Last week’s story was so long I thought this week needed a short short story, a mainstream one this time. Enjoy!
By Casie Blevins
I used to watch her, just watch, see her talking with friends down the long hallway, cracking jokes with her friends. Her cheerleading skirt bouncing upward when she would prance instead of walk. Her long lean legs trimmed in white socks and sneakers. I watched her to catch her smile.
It was like moonshine on a cold grave, seeing that smile. I could see just the corner of her canine tooth on one side, her lips pressing against her teeth. It looked effortless on her part. It splashed over to me, a reflection of happiness, of joy sometimes and set my heart to burning in my chest, the heat bubbling out as sweat on my forehead.
Sara, I would whisper. Sara, Sara, Sara.
She would never notice me.
Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. Friday went by. No notice. Then the long weekend stretched ahead of me without her. Unbearably long. Dark.
Then Monday again. Months.
One day her eyes slid over to mine. Her name was in my mouth, squeezing out of my lips. Strickened, I stuttered, silently, of course. All silent. Her eyes slid away from me and she was gone. The cornsilk of her hair pushed behind her ear with one polished nail. She didn’t turn around.
One cold day her gaze snared on mine. She was alone, she carried her own air with her, it whirled around her, making her cheeks red. When she passed by she turned her head, her eyelids blinking impossibly slow, her lashes brushing her cheeks, then open again. I couldn’t see her teeth, her mouth was closed. She had no words for me, but she held my gaze, impossibly, impractically, all the way down the hall, or at least to the first classroom, an eternal moment. Her lips parted, her tongue wetting them, and then the air was gone; it followed her.
I suffocated there in the hall.
She spoke twice before I heard her, before she was real. Her voice breathy, sure of itself her confidence a casual thing, an indictment of my silence, my shyness, my introversion. I shrank as she ballooned beside me.
I watched her carefully, unsure of her corporeality, certain of mine. I waited in part to waste away or dissipate. I felt vaporous and indistinct.
“Hi.” She said again and I knew her to be real.
I opened my mouth but nothing came out, not breath, not sound. I was of no substance, here was the proof.
I watched the downturn in her mouth, her eyes crinkle with something–disappointment? and took a deep and labored breath.
I love you, I thought. “Hi,” I said. Was I smiling? Grimacing?
She returned my remark with an airy smile. “Did you write your Chem paper last night? You have Miss Wiggins, too, right?”
I nodded. I took Biology. I could help her with chemistry though, I could piece together the elements of our unique bond and make it stronger. I could–
“Well, good luck, I hear she grades on a curve.”
She slipped away from me again and stunned, I realized we had spoken. She had spoken, multiple words strung together aimed at me, winding all around me, ensnaring me. I was gutted, a rabbit at the end of its fight, taking its last breaths, the light going out of its eyes, all before the wolf.
I was happily at the bottom of the food chain.
And then she was someone that I never knew, could not know, would never know, she was in the past. She grew up, graduated, and I followed after. I moved on, lived a lifetime, or at least a year without her. I forgot her for a time.
Until I saw her.
She was walking, low heeled shoes and dark tight jeans, flowers on her shirt. I paused, taken aback. She paused too taking me in, a slight smile on her lips. Then her eyes crumpled and I saw something in her falter. “Um,” she said.
What was this? Was my beauty unsure of herself? How could this be? It emboldened me.
“Cameron, right?” she said.
She knew my name?
And then she stunned me. “I always liked you, you know. But you never seemed to notice me.”
“I even made up some stupid thing about a paper once. High school’s so stupid, right? All of that idiotic dodge and play.”
I closed my mouth. Here was my chance. Here she was, this girl of my dreams and she seemed…interested.
“Hi, I’m Cameron.”
She laughed. “Hi, I’m Sara.”
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