The Runway

January 14, 2012
By phyllismcginley BRONZE, State College, Pennsylvania
phyllismcginley BRONZE, State College, Pennsylvania
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.
— Yann Martel (Life of Pi)

There is a hallway at school, the main one, where the formal parades of life take place. People organized in that modern mob called society congregate in the appointed way to stare and stare. Gaggles and groups giggle and goggle at others, who ogle back unobserved, except for the herd down the hall scrutinizing them. A runway, not for models, for plain people. Not wanting to be watched, not that it matters. We all watch each other, knowing how we dislike it, not letting that interfere with our desire to watch those who watch us. Maybe revenge motivates the watching. Or not wanting to be left out.

Some embrace the watching, style themselves to be seen, admired, draw attention. Low necklines, short skirts, tall shoes. Mascara crusting the lids, powder carpeting cheeks, flaking and crackling after a long day. Hair dyed blond, or black, or purple. Doesn’t seem to matter what color, bu different from the original. Like they’re running away from themselves. Fingers stroke the hair constantly, like a security blanket. Straightening, twisting, shaking, tossing, a tic both mesmerizing and laughable. To caress the hair denied its own color, to lovingly touch the dry crackly strands, long dead from ironing, dying, perming. I watch them, caught in the dazzle and puzzlement. I watch how they walk.

Clad so richly, perfectly suited to the runway, but they slink, creep, rush down it. Not flying or using the wings of their wardrobe. Arms tuck in, shoulders hunch, backs bend, hiding from the world. Like wounded birds they waddle through crowds. I watch their eyes, searching for the boldness, expecting the defiance, the strength. I see sadness, fear, or worse, an awful blank. Mouths chatter about nothing; the same nothing fills the eyes, a nothingness strong and powerful, ever sucking them in. The wounded birds don’t know why they stay grounded, why soaring seems so close, but still impossible. For all their looking in mirrors, they don’t seem to see what I see, the sadness, the emptiness. Clinging to their hair, pulling at their mini skirts, yanking up the necklines, eyes flicking desperately to see who’s watching. But they wanted to be watched...didn’t they?

The runway never stops, but sometimes I stop watching because I’m tired. Tired of feeling a weight each time I see them pass, tired of feeling sad for the birds on the ground, the larks with clipped wings, who plucked their feathers trying to fly.

The author's comments:
It was an English assignment to write a vignette, but I ended up really plumbing the depths of my memory to find a moment that meant a lot to me.

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