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There once was a girl. She was of average looks, and she knew it. She was of average clothing, average weight, and average shoe size. But she was not of average mind. She was an extraordinary thinker. Not the type of smart that grows from sitting buried in textbooks, eyes glued to lined paper, hands with permanent imprints from grasping a pencil too tight. But smart in the way of the world, of becoming lost from reality. Or maybe her reality was simply more real than ours.
This girl, she seemed to be so absorbed in life itself. So unaware of societies thoughts, criticism, approval. She would lie outside under the sun and stare at the sky for hours. She liked to say she was watching the clouds, but I know she was playing out stories in her mind. The clouds were not just clouds to her, they were her friends that made her laugh. The sky could never leave her. It was always there. She loved it. The birds sang to her, lulled her to sleep. I once heard her call a robin her mother.
This girl, often misunderstood, was looked down upon by the children in her class. They did not have much time to judge her though, for she hardly ever showed up. She found more knowledge wondering the trees than in a small room that’s ceiling covered the sky she treasured so dearly. She explained this to the teachers. She told them to try it, to go outside and learn from experience. I doubt they ever did. But I did.
I followed her one day, out into the trees. I tip toed behind her, the sly cat I was. I pretended to be a mountain lion, slick on its feet, hidden in the shadows. I became a shadow. Her shadow. For days I would watch her, follow her into the deep wood. After too long, I would turn back. Or I would lose her in the shade of the leaves.
This might sound like a despicable deed, a nosy one to say the least. But, you see, she intrigued me. The way she walked, so lightly on her toes for a girl of almost 6 feet tall. She hardly made a noise at all. She was graceful, like the birds she saw as family. And her eyes. Her eyes were pools I could swim in forever. An electrifying blue, I swear they could glow in the dark, ignite the darkest room. Her hair was a bit crazy, a tangled mess. Her curls flowed down her back, scattered yet beautiful, like I imagined her thoughts to be.
One day I managed to follow her for hours. I missed a full day of school to stay on her trail. I wanted to talk to her. I would never dare speak in class, for I wanted to see her in her element, in her world. I was right on her trail, so close to her that if I reached out I could have stroked one of her curls. However, I did not believe she knew of my presence.
Yet, suddenly she turned around. Her eyes stared back at me, as blue as the sky. But her subtle, content grin she always wore was now a frown. I reached out my hand to hers, to comfort her, why was she so grim?
But my hand, it could not hold hers. It passed straight through her skin, and all I grasped was the forest air.
“Who are you?” I breathed thought shaking teeth.
“I am just a reflection of what you want, a trick of your mind. You see, James, I do not exist. Why do you think that I was never punished for skipping class? Because I do not attend class. I do not go to school. I came to you, because I had to see you. I wanted to hold your face, at least once. Experience the world one last time. Make every moment precious. I was afraid to let you know, to let you see. But you have been so persistent, following me every day after your classes, and today you leave class to do the same.”
“ I am sorry, I do not understand.”
“James. I died four years ago. I was very sick, so sick. But they let me come back, I cannot say who…. or what. They let me come… because I wanted to meet the one. The one whom I would have loved, and who would have loved me. And that would have been you James. And I do love you. But I should not have come. It has only made it harder… I must leave you now.”
She took a step back and before I could stop her, she dissolved into the breeze. Her eyes remained in thin air, for a split second, before following her soul to where she came from.
And I stood there, my eyes glistening. She thought she had me fooled, but I had fooled her as well. If only we had just told one another the truth, maybe our time together could have lasted a little longer.
Didn’t she know?
It’s all an illusion.
For, I died in a car crash just last year.
I step back and dissolve into the sky, her sky, where she is now far beyond