By Valerie Kemp
By Valerie Kemp
It is like this.
The boy walks by in that way the cute ones have. You know, half-loping, half-strutting. Head high, eyes all around. Not sure if they’re the watcher or the watched, but not really concerned. Either one must be good, because life is good.
His life, anyway.
And she sits, breath half-held, half-swallowed. Frozen in that state of “casual” – the one that always looks forced. Cursing herself for being so obvious. Cursing him for not noticing.
Why are they all so oblivious? She wonders, absently striking a pose of disheartened fury. If there is such a thing. She probably just invented it now – her awkwardness always creating something unheard of. She is beautiful that way, but doesn’t know it. A blessing and a curse, or maybe just the way it has to be.
He smiles, crooked teeth and all. So imperfect he cannot be improved upon. It is unfair she thinks, that two odds make an even, and two evens make an even, but the odd that is her is made up of incomplete parts. She is all halves and quarters – unfinished despite so many pieces. Too many to figure out what’s missing.
No, she thinks and boldly points at him inside her mind. He’s missing.
As if he felt her imaginary finger, he turns. Eyes that seem to know so much more about life than she ever will scan the room, pausing with effect on hers for the briefest of moments, but a moment, still.
An old love song she learned in Spanish class, “Contigo En La Distancia” floats through her mind and she thinks (always thinking) yes. That’s it. Someday, somewhere, they will come together. The imperfect perfect and the just imperfect. He will fill her empty spaces. Put her together like the jigsaw puzzle she believes she is.
Yes, she thinks again, and remembers to breathe. The gasp rises from her sharply, pushing its way to the ceiling. The place where dreams sit waiting. Where, if you can reach, you can pluck them down and turn them into a tangible thing.
She watches the flawed boy continue on his way. The blandest of scenery in the journey that is his life. He tilts his head back, staring into the dreamspace with a faraway look, and all at once she understands. She knows what she must do to make her dream reality. For the first time in an eternity, she smiles even though no one is watching.
It’s simple (she thinks, and feels her heart flutter).
She must learn to fly.