Lyla With a Y

The scars on her wrists are an angry red. They climb like train tracks up her arm and disappear into her sleeves. They are not fresh but I still sense in her the same sadness that must have caused these cuts originally. They make me stop in my tracks and stare, feeling an emotion, a familiarity that I cannot quite place. Our eyes meet and I am struck by the uniqueness of their color. They are an iridescent sort of blue and look like one day two round pieces of the sky fell to the earth and took refuge upon her face. Hesitantly I sit down next to her and ask her name. “Lyla,” she says, in a voice that is barely above a whisper. “Lyla with a y.” I smile at her and she smiles back, but it stops long before it meets her eyes. It is the kind of smile that is so forced that you almost expect its owner’s face to crack into jigsaw puzzle pieces, strained by the effort of portraying this emotion you feel so far from feeling. Then we both begin filling out our applications in silence.
We are at the local psychologist’s office, applying for the same secretarial position. Although she is my competition I feel nothing but friendliness towards her. There are two positions available and I find myself hoping that she and I are the ones to get the jobs. Maybe we would come to be good friends, maybe we would fall in love. The possibilities were endless.
The office is bustling with people and I find it hard to concentrate on filling in my name, address, and other mundane information because of how much I am noticing Lyla. I glance over at her paper and see that she is almost done with her application. Her handwriting is neat and precise and I see that she doesn’t live too far from me. Pretty soon I notice that I am staring at her. I notice the way she bites her lower lip in concentration, and the way her freckles remind me of constellations in the night sky. Her lashes are long, her hair is blonde, and all around her wafts the sweetest smell. It’s like blooming flowers, kissed by dew, basking in the orange and yellow rays of the morning sun. She is beautiful.
She finishes her application and glances up to find me staring. I feel my cheeks turning red underneath my summer tan and she smiles that same broken smile at me, letting me know that it was okay and there was no need to be embarrassed. “Good luck and see you,” she says and begins to unclip her application from the clipboard. As she does this, her sleeve slides up on her other arm, the one the furthest away from me, revealing six or seven fresh cuts on her otherwise perfect skin. I breathe in sharply in shock at how painful and vibrant they look. She glances over at me and sees where I am looking and quickly scrambles to pull her sleeve down. Then she stands up, places her application on the secretary’s desk and then quickly exits the office. I feel like I can’t breathe for a minute because of all the thoughts rushing through my mind. What should I do? These fresh cuts told a completely different story then scars. Scars whispered of a painful past, perhaps angsty teen years. But these fresh cuts? I wanted to help Lyla. I didn’t even know her but I wanted to help her. So I got up out of my chair and took my unfinished application with me, leaving the clipboard sitting in the chair I once occupied. I burst out of the office’s doors and stared around me in the parking lot. But Lyla was nowhere to be found. It was as if she had disappeared in a puff of smoke. Like she just vanished.
I got the call the next day from the psychologist’s office, asking me to come in for an interview that Friday morning in order for me to get the job. Feeling proud of myself, I quickly took the appointment and then set myself to work making breakfast. I poured myself a steaming mug of coffee, and put some toast in the toaster with butter and jam. As I sat down at my small breakfast table in my apartment to eat my meal, I picked up the day’s paper and scanned the headlines for anything interesting. Riffling through the pages, I found myself thinking of Lyla and I wondered if maybe she had gotten the job as well. On the last page of the paper I was shocked to come across a photograph of Lyla. It looked like it had been taken professionally, maybe for her senior picture or something. She looked beautiful and radiant, no evidence of the tiredness and the sadness in her eyes. I wondered if the railroad of scars had been on her wrists at that time. Then I glanced at the headline. “Local High School Graduate Commits Suicide.” Everything seemed to stop for a moment. My eyes began scanning the article at top speed, my heart pounding and roaring in my ears. “Lyla Hutchens, varsity cheerleader and in the top 25 of her graduating class at Ridge High School is found dead in her room in what is believed to be a successful suicide attempt. There was no note but Hutchens’ tearful parents and siblings all report that she has been battling depression over the last year and had been receiving counseling at a local clinic throughout all of this.” MY eyes skimmed the rest of the article, falling on the final line of the article. “The eighteen year old will be missed by many in the community as she leaves hundreds of friends to grapple with the reasons why. ‘She always felt like nobody cared about her,’ said one of her close friends, Regina in an interview. ‘But it was never true.’” I found myself sobbing at my breakfast table. I could not remember the last time I had cried but there I was dripping salty tears onto my plate of toast and blurring the article. I jumped out of my chair and grabbed scissors, glue, and paper out of my desk drawer and sat back down at the table. I cut out Lyla’s picture and pasted it to the plain paper. Then with my hand shaking I wrote down the words I wished I had been able to say to her the day before, if only she hadn’t vanished when I tried to find her in the parking lot. Then I stepped outside into the morning light. Sun spilled between the leaves in the trees, casting strange shadows across the sidewalk. I folded up the note and held it outstretched in my palm waiting for a gust of wind to carry it to Lyla, wherever she may be. Finally, a gust came. Fluffy clouds were pushed across the sky, green leaves found themselves blown right off the branches of their trees. The note in my hand was lifted away. It rose up to the sky and unfolded itself while I cried, reading “I didn’t know you, but I cared.”





Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback