February 15, 2010
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We met in the stairwell of a parking garage. She was running down the steps, two at a time, destined to fall. As she did I found myself praying for her safety. I was shocked. The unexpected passion was like nothing I'd never felt. I sped up to reach her but she picked herself up quickly and I lost the opportunity to touch her. My fingers ached. I picked up the books shed dropped and handed them back to her, hoping, praying for our fingers to brush each other but they didnt. The books were all hidden behind black book covers and I was surprised at my disappointment. Im not what youd call the curious type, I take what Im told and dont ask questions. But Id wanted to know what these books were. There were notebooks too, and I hungered to see what was written.
"Hi, Im Jim"
She moved the stack of secret books into one arm and held my outreached hand.
I got my wish. Her hand was soft as silk and it took all my self-control not to pull her towards me as I held it, tangle my other hand in her long black hair, the ends dyed purple. Something about this girl enchanted me. Maybe it was the way her bangs, in need of a trim, hung over her eyes. Or maybe it was the way those eyes, when she peered at me from beneath the shroud of black, managed to look both dead and sparkling with life in the same moment.
"Thank you" she said, and I realized I was still holding her hand, staring.
"Oh, youre welcome" I replied and let go, snapped out of my daze.
She let her hand dangle in the air for a moment, then retracted it slowly and began twisting her rings around her fingers.
"Im on my way to meet a friend. I'm late, but I guess I should be more careful."
"Yeah, maybe you should try one step at a time"
Id meant it as a joke but she nodded her head solemnly, as if that were the first real truth shed ever heard.
We stood there for a moment, me staring at her, and she began to fidget.
"Well I wont keep you"
I wanted to keep her. I wanted to take her and keep her forever. She would lie next to me at night and I would touch her as I pleased. She would be mine and I would be allowed. She would tell me her secrets as we played under moonlight. I would kiss her fingertips, one by one.
She nodded and began to move past me.
"But, um?"
She stopped, pushed her bangs out of her face and looked up at me. They were gray, I now saw. Her eyes were a beautiful shade of gray.
"Well, this might be sort of strange but.. would you like to have coffee or something with me sometime?"
She looked me up and down, obviously pegging me for the 3-piece-suit I was and my heart dropped into despair. I was merely a lifetime as she was eternity. But after sizing me up she tore a scrap of paper from one of her notebooks, scribbled down what I suspected (hoped with all my soul) to be a phone number and slipped it into the front pocket of my suit jacket. She glanced up at me one last time, a shadow of a smile playing across her lips, and continued on her way, two steps at a time. I found it odd how she went. She said she was late, but when I first saw her and as I watched her now, she looked more like she was running away from something than to it.
As I finished climbing the flight of stairs and headed towards my car I thought how lucky I was that she hadnt noticed the ring on my left hand. I sat down in my car but did not start the engine. I sat there twisting the gold band around and around on my finger, but I did not think of Annie. My thoughts tangled around tight jeans and red fingernails, lips red to match from teeth, slightly crooked, biting them over and over. No, I did not think of my wife as I sat there, on my way home. I didnt think of the dinner shed undoubtedly have ready when I walked in the door, or the "Hi honey. How was work?" that would undoubtedly fall from her lips, or the sex we'd had the night before. No, I did not think of these things.
I thought of her.

As night fell across Annie's face and I was sure she was asleep, I slipped out of bed and moved to the closet, feeling around the pocket of my jacket until my fingers found the prize. I pulled out the slip of paper and moved quietly to the balcony, sliding the door open and then closed behind me. Free with the stars. I dialed and stood, barely breathing, waiting. No answer. I sighed deep into my soul and moved backwards to bed.

I think there is some rule that says not to call a girl for three days. I could barely wait three hours. The next morning I called her again. No answer. I waited anxiously at work all day. Jittery as if on speed. As I left, once again I dialed her number and began to think for the first time whether I was coming across as desperate. Someone answered the phone, but it was not her.
"Hello?" It was a man's voice.
"Umm, hi. I'm looking for Esha?"
There was silence and the then he started, voice shaking.
"Yes, this is her phone. I am her brother."
I was becoming irritated. I'd been waiting to hear her voice, aching for it.
"Well.. is she there?"
Now he was crying. What had I done? Was my voice too harsh?
"She's dead."
My world collapsed inside my skull.
Shock after complete destruction.
"She fell. Down the stairs."
He was sobbing now, wailing in my ear, but I couldnt say anything. I couldnt even say Im sorry, even though I was more sorry than Id ever been, so I hung up, walked to my car and drove home.

Annie asked me what was wrong and I said nothing. I did not eat and when I finally fell asleep as light was breaking I dreamt of her. She was sitting, whispering something, gently gnawing on her fingernails, never hard enough to break them. My whole body ached to hear those secret words but I was too far away. And I couldnt move, I couldnt get closer. Every night for a week I had this dream.
one night it was different. I was next to her as the hushed murmur fell from around her teeth. I stopped breathing. I listened. And I heard them.
"Thank you."
As she sat by the window staring up at the sky she whispered,
"Thank you. Thank you."
I took her hand away from her mouth and she looked at me, eyes gentle and pleading. I kissed her fingertips, one by one.

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Th Reader! said...
Mar. 6, 2010 at 10:48 am
That was so sad. I can't believe she died!
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