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 From atop the hill in the countryside of ____town I saw her. Or, rather, I saw half of her at the horizon where the sun descended with the light across her silky hair. The other half was concealed by the shadows.

 

I cannot exactly recall the details of all our encounters after this moment on the hill, but I remember with astounding clarity one particular moment we had. Before I tell you about this moment, however, I must tell you of her, as I’m certain you’ve never been acquainted with anyone the least bit similar.


The girl, who appears a child but is actually well into her twenties, came knocking at my door a few summer mornings after my initial sight of her at the horizon. She came bearing gifts: fruits, hand-picked from the trees she said were growing in her backyard. My mother and I welcomed her to the neighborhood, and she curtsied as if that were still commonplace in our parts. Her fingers were long and slender, so feminine compared to the rest of her body. Somewhat boxy, her figure had a manly quality to it that, at the time, I attributed more to the clothes she wore than the actual shape (though since watching her bathe nude in the creek, I can attribute it to that, too). Her hair was as luminous in the morning as it had appeared that first evening I noticed her, platinum-colored and lifelessly straight. She wore dark glasses, the kind I’ve never seen anyone else wear in my town, and around the glasses was an oval face of smooth, translucent skin and full, shockingly red lips. Intrigued, I thought about her all the rest of that first morning she visited.


She was the first woman besides my mother to touch me. It happened when she came to my house some days after that morning, this time bearing news and not fruit. There’d been a kidnapping in the Peninsula. The Peninsula was what we called the curious little stretch of land jutting out into one of the lakes. The news was startling to us mostly because we’d heard our visitor had moved in around there and we feared for her safety. When we informed the newcomer of her nearness to the location of the kidnapping (she wasn’t yet aware of which parts of the town were where), she parted her lips in surprise, let out a nearly inaudible gasp, and touched her fingertips to my hand in a motion so quick I had to believe she was unaware she’d done it. But when she did it again, a couple of days later as we fixed a hole in her roof, I was sure she knew. At least, I thought I was sure. I could never be completely certain of her feelings with her eyes hidden under those glasses.


The moment took place a few months after that second touch. It was early dawn, before the sun had broken the horizon. I’d become so obsessed with her that I’d snuck out of the house without alerting my mother, an act which, for years, I swore I’d never become defiant enough to commit. And I did it without protest simply because she asked.

We walked to the creek where the night before I’d spied on her from my window. Then we walked along the water. She stopped at a short, flat rock farther into the forest than I’d ever been. Our proximity to the creek filled the air with the sounds of rushing water. Water is so much louder than you expect it to be.

The creek sounds the only noise between us, I thought she might kiss me for a minute. Her face was turned towards mine. I suppose she might have been looking at me, though I just couldn’t be sure with her. Her mouth was motionless, though, and her head moved not an inch closer to mine, so I decided not to prepare for the kiss. I then fumbled with the next possibility in my mind: that she would kill me. Murders were not infrequent around these parts, but I didn’t really expect it from her. Just as I was turning over the next prediction in my head, she touched one hand’s cold fingertips to my shoulder. She lifted the other’s to her glasses. She took them off.

Where there were supposed to be eyes was skin. It was unlike the skin of the rest of her body, visibly tighter and even reflective. She had hair above the skin like eyebrows, but it was sparse. She went through the regular motions of blinking, too. The muscles around the top part of her face seemed to flex, and then relax. But the places where her eyes were not didn’t move a bit.

I was stilled by the moment. My mouth wouldn’t move to form words, though I don’t think she anticipated them. The unsettling bit was my heightened awareness of blinking.

As I began to regurgitate the words that had fallen down my throat, she pressed both hands to her eyes as if crying. And she ripped. She dug the nails of her slender fingers into her skin and pulled. It yielded little, because she was halted by the pain and I’m convinced the volume of her screams froze her in place as it did me. Then she jumped. She clumsily bent her manly knees and hurled herself into the shallow creek. Suddenly her screams were swallowed by the water sounds. The speed of the water was such that I only saw her body for a quick moment, for one blink of my eyes. The words had fallen into my stomach now, perhaps even down to my feet. Some days later, the neighbors were saying the kidnapper had been found dead. I cried into the creek and considered jumping after her, but I had my mother to think of.






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