– tell me a story, he asked

– hmm, she replied, looking down in thought.
Then – i think you’ll know this one

“Once upon a time, there was a little girl. Happy, carefree, lovely, as all little girls in once-upon-a-time-stories are. Then she met a boy.”

– What did this boy like about her?
– That’s the same question she asked.

“This boy later told her that he loved the way that when they’d met, she’d looked at him, straight in the eyes, and smiled. And how, even though she was a ruler’s length shorter than him, he’d felt as though there was no difference at all. It was already then he knew that he wanted to be with her.”

– And then?
– Wait. It’s coming.

“Things happened. Words were said. Tears bled. Hearts broke. And finally, two words: ‘The End’. ‘It’s Over’. ‘Stop, Enough’. ‘Don’t Hope’. You can imagine what you like here at this point: it all means the same. A little girl not so happy, not so carefree, not so lovely.”

– Really? Not so lovely?
– Hmm. She probably was as lovely as she always was. I think she probably just forgot.
– Oh. And then?

“Months passed. They still missed each other, somehow. They still wanted a little part of each other, so they tried to be friends. The first time, he said ‘No, it’s too soon’. The second, the ‘No’ was hers. The last: ‘We can’t’.

“So this time round, all ties were cut loose, and she drifted far far away, a kite caught in the winds of memory. Slowly, slowly, with the love and attention of friends gently calling her down again, she started to descend from the dizzying heights of the past, slowly, slowly.

“Then, one day, as she was walking around on campus, she thought she saw a familiar face amongst the faces walking towards her. No, she told herself. She must be imagining things. What would he be doing here? But as she walked towards him, she realized it was.”

– Who?
– You can guess who.

“There he stood. Beautiful. With his birth, the sun had kissed his skin in delight, and even now, his skin held a year-round tan. And, dammit, he’d been working out. She felt a little bit ugly, a little bit unkempt, wishing that that morning she’d taken a bit more care with her outfit. He showed no discomfort, however, hugged her briefly, and asked all those polite questions acquaintances do: How are you? What are you up to nowadays? She, in confused disarray, didn’t hear this, but like a babbling brook, merely poured out her own questions: Hi? What are you doing here? How are things going?”

– Hi’s not a question.
– It is, if you don’t know what the other person thinks about you.

“Anyway, it gets a bit more awkward for our little girl. As she was speaking, she suddenly remembered that he’d asked questions first, and instead pausing to gather herself, responded in an entangled and confused spaghetti ball of answers and even more questions. And that’s when she told herself ‘Stop. Walk away.’

: ‘Sorry, I need to go, I have an appointment.’

“Then she walked away. But as she did, she suddenly realized she couldn’t remember how he looked like. The whole time they’d been talking, she hadn’t looked at him once in the eyes. Sure, she’d caught glimpses of his shirt, his arms, his hair, his skin, but her eyes had merely danced over his face, deathly afraid (like Snow White’s stepmother in her red-hot iron shoes) to stop dancing. And it was then, finally, as she was thinking about the first time that they’d met, that she knew that she was no longer the girl that he’d fallen in love with. That she was no longer the girl who had so easily looked at him in the eyes. Her friends were right – she had somehow lost herself along the way. And whoever that ‘herself’ was, she needed to discover again.”

– And then?
– Well. This is the part of the story that life is still going to show us…

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~ by translating for peas on October 12, 2009.

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