Melting

January 27, 2009
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"People tell me I look prettier when I'm crying."

That's what she said to me, first period of the day, eyes barely connecting to mine through a blurry shield of water. Her lips weren't pulled back like I thought they would be. It was as though someone was pinning her cheek to her ear, forming that ridiculous line that the struggling hope can pass as a smile. She was quite openly frowning, and not looking away.

I shrugged and mumbled an "I dunno," which got caught in a gurgle of laughter erupting from my nervous instincts.

She smiled the tight pinned smile once and then looked down. I thought about crying. People cry an awful lot, it seems. The night before, I watched three television shows, and in each there was at least one crying character, one hysterical human hydrant, one meltdown. Meltdowns...was everyone melting? Was there something beyond science in those drops of salty liquid that scientists couldn't find? Were there layers building up on us all day after day?

I pictured this in my mind for a moment. She was standing in the hallway now, one of the dully white passageways that all looked identical through the constant squinting of the sleep-deprived. Crowds were coming now, slowly ambling along in some places, shoving hurriedly in others, all making there way to different places; each one was the most important. Words were flying out of the crowds now, nagging, shocking, hurting, biting, pinching and pulling at her skin. They pushed at her skin, forming shallow divots in it like toes in wet sand. Soon more wafted from another hallway, another place, drifting around and around her head and settling around her neck. They gathered in the small of her back, and weighed down the backs of her knees and tips of her toes.

Layers built up and up until they no longer even could have once been harmless words. They pushing down on the breathing being, who is this? She can feel the pressure...pressure. It was too much now, and she would be crushed.

And then the water comes. Pools gather in moons at the bottoms of her eyes, and slip out through the corners smoothly. She's leaking. Two rivers wash away two cheeks, and soon a face; a scrunched brow, a clenched jaw, and an all-too-familiar tight smile. Like a marathon runner only yards from the finish line, fighting to make the miles beforehand worth it. It's a fighting face, fighting the layers. And the layers are losing, because one by one they peel away, as the river expands into a sea and then an ocean. Steady, rhythmic waves now wash away the sand until it's smooth and damp.

I can see her again. I can see the eyes that still hold a shield of water, remnants of the battle. I can see the jaw that slowly relaxes, and I can see the tight line melting, still melting, into an open frown.

She's sitting next to me again, and I think about crying. People cry an awful lot, so is it part of who we are? Snakes shed their skin, and humans melt their layers.

"People tell me I look prettier when I'm crying."

I think about seeing the girl I know with the tears in her eyes, after the ocean washed everything away. That seemed pretty to me. Pretty beautiful. Maybe it wasn't crying that was beautiful, but the fact that we could melt. Because human is beautiful.





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