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Her

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The first time I saw her, she was holding hands with a girl. I was walking through the huge, crowded hallway of Sarah Lawrence College, eyes down as usual. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a bright flash of color. I looked up. Two girls, hands intertwined, stood in the middle of the hall, blocking everyone else's path. The pink hair I had seen belonged to the first girl, who was talking to a tall, black-haired girl with dark eyes. I hardly noticed the dark-haired girl, though, because my eyes went straight to the extraordinarily beautiful girl and stayed there. Her hair was short and looked like she had cut it herself. She was short, not much taller than five feet, compared to my five foot eight. The pink girl looked to me like a pixie, plucked straight from a different world and deposited in the middle of New York. It wasn't until she caught me staring and looked right at me with her crystal blue eyes that I noticed how ethereal she really was. She quickly turned her eyes back to the dark-haired girl and they resumed their conversation. Dark hair turned to pink hair and kissed her lightly on the cheek, and pink hair walked back down the hall. I didn't notice that I had been standing in the middle of the hallway like a zombie until my roommate, Lauren, caught up with me. "Earth to Kiran!" She whispered into my ear, and I jumped. "Hey, Lauren," I answered, and we continued walking. "Okay," Lauren started, with a gleam in her eye that I recognized. "So. There's this party tonight in the frosh dorm, the one on the quad. You're coming." "Lauren...You know how I feel about parties! And besides, I really can't go, I have a lot of homework," I countered. "Nope!" Lauren exclaimed, rushing past me and down the hall, fast enough that I couldn't say anything. "You're going!" She called over her shoulder. I shrugged and accepted the fact that I would be going to a party tonight, my very first drunken, testosterone-ridden frat party. Oh, joy.
The living room in the frosh dorm was ugly. The pastel wall hangings, battered television, and the plastic-covered couches that lined the room were just plain depressing. Silently, I thanked the universe for putting Lauren and me in the Co-op dorm. Lauren dragged me into the kitchen to make us drinks. When she handed me my drink, I took off for the nearest corner. "Oh, no, you don't!" Lauren grabbed my hand. "We are going to meet people." Lauren, always the social butterfly, gave her red curls a flip and led me through a crowd of kids to a half-occupied table. We both sat down and introduced ourselves. The people sitting around the table all turned out to be members of the fencing club, so for the next half hour I was bored to death by stories of competitions with other schools. During a particularly dull anecdote involving the renaissance festival, I muttered something about another drink and quickly moved away. I made my way to the refreshments table and looked inside the punch bowl at a fizzy pink liquid. It was probably spiked, but I didn't care. Apparently alcohol would be the only thing to get me through the next couple of hours. I poured some into a cup. As I turned around to make my way back to Lauren and the gang, an electrical cord found its way around my ankle, and I fell flat on my face. In slow motion, I saw the punch bowl topple over and spill its contents all over my clothes and hair. For a moment I was stunned, and I laid there collecting my thoughts. Would I get up, or maybe I could just lie there for the rest of the night and go to my "happy place"? A voice said, "Are you okay?" and I sat up and found myself looking into the aqua-blue eyes of the pink-haired girl. "That was a nasty fall, I saw it from across the room," she continued. "Oh! Right. Yeah..." I answered. I've always had such a way with words. The pink-haired girl helped me up. "I'm Sylvie," she said, and held her hand out. I shook it. "Kiran," I managed. I could feel myself turning red. Somehow, this girl was making me really nervous. I looked up at her and she slowly broke into a grin. "You look terrible," she giggled, and led me to the bathroom. I blushed an even deeper red when I realized how sticky I was. "Wash up and meet me out here in five. I've got something that'll make you feel better," Sylvie said, and I found myself believing her as I stumbled into the bathroom and closed the door.
When I emerged sometime later, much less sticky, Sylvie smiled at me, flung her beaded knapsack over her shoulder, and beckoned with a flick of her wrist in the opposite direction. I followed her outside onto the quad. "Are you crazy?" I yelled "It's snowing!" Sure enough, snowflakes were falling from the sky, coating our hair and soaking into our coats. It was pitch black outside, but the snow provided a certain kind of light that made Sylvie's face glow. When she saw me standing still, watching her, she turned around and came back to me. "You know, i've always wanted to kiss someone in the snow," Sylvie said solemnly. "People always kiss in the rain, but never in the snow. I wonder why?" We stared at each other for a long moment, until finally she turned around and kept walking. I followed. I still had no idea where we were going, but I was beginning to trust Sylvie. After a while, we came to a small shed. "The janitors' shed," Sylvie explained. She pushed open the door and flipped on the light. We squeezed into the small, dimly-lit room and found an old table with a few folding chairs in the center of the cramped space. As we settled into the chairs, Sylvie pulled a few items out of her bag: a deck of cards, a pack of Camels, and a small flask. "Do you know how to play poker?" Sylvie asked innocently. "Actually, no. I don't," I admitted, feeling six years old. "That's ok, neither do I, to be honest. These are really for Go Fish." She held up the deck of cards and started shuffling. She grinned, and I grinned back. Sylvie reached for the flask and took a swig. She handed it to me and I did the same, feeling the sting of the liquor hit the back of my throat. Sylvie dealt the cards out: seven for me, seven for her. She pulled a cigarette out of the pack and lit it. She sucked in and the tiny embers at the tip glowed. As she blew out the smoke, she pushed the pack toward me. "Want one?" she smiled at me. "Umm...yeah," I decided, and I awkwardly took one and put it to my lips. Sylvie saw my obvious nervousness and laughed. "You've never had a cigarette before?" I shook my head. She plucked the stick out of my mouth and put it to hers, lighting it with her tie-dye Bic. She handed it back to me and I took it, noticing the lipstick stain on the tip. I sucked in too hard and coughed. Sylvie laughed even harder. I shook my head and handed her the cigarette to put out. The booze kicked in, and I started to feel dizzy and light-headed. I started laughing, too, and both of us giggled for so long that we almost couldn't stop. I took another drink, and we started playing.
Six rounds of Go FIsh, a few cigarettes for Sylvie and several swigs from the flask later, Sylvie and I stopped and looked at each other. "I've just realized something," I giggled.
"Mmm..?"
"I'm sitting here with you, playing cards and drinking, and I don't know anything about you! Not your last name, or even how old you are!" I exclaimed, very tipsy. "Ah, well. That shall be fixed!" Sylvie cried, equally tipsy. "Well, my full name is Sylvia Lynn Adams. I've always thought about going by Sylvia, y'know, like Sylvia Plath, but my family has always called me Sylvie, and it just sticks. I'm a junior, which means I'm-" she pretended to count on her fingers, "Twenty." I suddenly felt embarassed, and whatever effects the booze had had on me before faded quickly. A junior? She would definitely not want to hang out with a freshman, still a teenager, practically a baby! She seemed so sophisticated, too. Warily, I replied, "Kiran Elizabeth Johnston. Freshman." Sylvie looked me up and down, then slowly broke out into one of her signature grins. "Eighteen, then, eh? You seem much older. It's okay, though, I like 'em young." She winked. Was she flirting with me? It was hard to read Sylvie. My cheeks grew hot. "I'm just kidding!" She laughed when she saw my face. "Don't worry, Kiran." I felt relief at first, then something else, a weird feeling that I couldn't quite put my finger on. "So," I began, changing the subject. "What's your major?" She thought for a moment. "Well, technically, my major is supposed to be Comparative Religions. What I really want to do, career-wise, though, is paint peoples' portraits. I've loved art since I was a kid, and I took a community college class on painting while I was still in high school, back in Seattle. What about you, though? What are you interested in?" Sylvie leaned forward and rested her chin on her hand. I cleared my throat. "Well, I guess i've always wanted to be a writer. A poet, actually." I said. "Really?" She looked genuinely interested. "I love poetry. I've always thought that the best gift someone could give you, the most romantic thing anyway, would be a poem. One day, I want someone to write a poem for me." She ran a hand through her hair absentmindedly. The conversation carried on like that for quite awhile, usually with me being nervous and Sylvie laughing at my nervousness. After a little bit, though, I found myself loosening up and laughing. "So..." I tried to think of something clever to say. We were silent for a beat. Sylvie spoke up. "Girl, there's this concert in the city next weekend. Ani Difranco is playing, and i've been looking forward to this show for months. Have you heard of Ani?"
I shook my head no.
"I think you would like her. Very cool vibe. Do you want to come with me?" I opened my mouth to say "No, thanks," but the word "Yes" found its way out instead. All of a sudden, Sylvie looked at the bulky, out-of-place watch that hung on her delicate wrist. "Jesus. It's 3 a.m! The janitors will be here in an hour or two. We'd better split, I guess." She said. I felt inexplicably sad. Even though I knew, realistically, that we would be seeing each other soon, around campus and at the concert, I felt an emptiness in leaving the shed, like all of our memories would be left behind. It seemed like maybe she and I wouldn't have anything in common besides this night, and if we talked tomorrow, we might unintentionally ruin our ideas of each other. Maybe Sylvie was only doing all of this because she felt sorry for clumsy, poor little Kiran who tripped and fell in front of an audience, an awkward teenage girl who had never smoked in her life. A small fish in a big pond at Sarah Lawrence.
I quickly told my brain to shut up.
I focused instead on Sylvie. She had stood up and was putting everything back into her beaded knapsack, which I now knew had come from a thrift shop in the city. I stood up. "Well, uh, this has been amazing, Sylvie. Thank you," I told her. She stopped packing and just looked at me for awhile. Usually, I would look away, but this time I held her gaze, amazed at how long she could make eye contact without making the situation awkward or complicated. Or maybe it already was. She wore a half-smile and her sea-colored eyes shone. I half-smiled back at her. "You know," she whispered, "Your eyes have a little gold in them."





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kiwi12 said...
Aug. 25, 2009 at 12:27 am
This is sucha cute story. Is Kiran is a guy? I can't tell.
Overall, it is very well written.
 
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