I sometimes like to think that she knew who I was, long before I ever met her. And that, in some strange coincidence, she willed herself to meet me in a way that I found myself willed to meet her too. Like magnets, and the space between each thought enclosed as did the space between our skin. It’s in these thoughts particularly that I hope in some way, her nature to be as adhesive as mine.
It’s not that I had always thought about her and her alone. I used to like to think of girls, and women, and any with soft, lush, fleshy bits quite a bit more than I should. How, when I would close my eyes, I could feel the pale smooth flesh of a forearm under my fingertips. I’d reach for a hand, instead of the coffee cup that spanned the the faded green and peeling table, or a cheek instead of the muffin I purchased with no real want to eat. Just that, it seemed aesthetically pleasing to have it there. A still-life in the moment. A piece of art in a mundane world.
And maybe thats why I’d been coming to that cafe. Not that I disliked cafes in general. Just that, this little coffee shop was very much the classic crap you’d expect from downtown Toronto, flaking plaster piping and all. And the walls, though covered with thick applications of plaster and primer, painted poorly in a watered down eggplant tone, were far from being unsightly. It was the gaudiness that attracted me. The excessive nature of the peeling chairs or the island with a shelf covered in more flavours of tea than anyone would ever choose. A wall of choices I would never make.
It was all oddly soothing. A black, burnt coffee, dried out muffin, and an uncomfortable chair painted to look like something from an old Italian film. Perfectly contenting, it was.
I suppose this is rather unjust of me to say, seeing as it’s not really the aesthetics that kept me here, even if it had attracted me in the first place. I was far too flighty to keep up with the same routine, and the company was barely worth the time spent waiting for refreshments I didn’t want. It was stuffed with indie queens and self proclaimed human rights activist. Fair trade blend drinkers and aspiring novelists with their macbooks soaking in the free wifi. I had heard more about e. cummings and J. D. Salinger than I did during my university years, which were long and obtrusive and filled to the brim with stuffy english literature. But to be young again, I should think myself quite like them.
I wasn’t eighteen anymore, though. And though I was far from the end of my ‘glory days’ it was not easy keeping myself in place when surrounded in what once was. What could have been. The vanity I had in excess.
No, I don’t think I would have stayed. But these are things that don’t matter now. All that did, was her.
It had been like this for weeks. Ever since she started showing up, I frequented the spot by the front door, and was nearly knocked out of my stool each time it swung open with a herd of newcomers heading for the counter. The only spot I knew would always be open. And it had the best view of the stage.
By stage, it was really nothing grand. Just a raised platform. A sort of corner piece that stuck out of the far wall, painted the same faded eggplant shade, with just enough room for one, or maybe two at most, to stand or sit or do whatever it is artists do. And it was on this exact platform that she sat, feet curled around the legs of a green, chipping, wooden chair, with a beat up old acoustic in her hands where the strings were left unclipped. She would pluck each with the beds of her fingers, slender as they were, creating an almost elated sense of softness. A folky tune that muffled often from the chatter and incessant tapping.
She was singing some irish tune. A Lisa Hannigan number, where the words meshed and melded in a breathy, contralto murmur. Sensuous, the way her mouth would curve as she sang, neck arched and skin taut, so much so you could see the thin trace of her jugular, or the smooth panel of jawline.
She had a frightful haircut. This sort of swoop that crossed her brow, while the rest of her bob seemed short and unnaturally jagged. A style I had seen many a teenage musician wearing these days. She had many piercings in her ears, too. Cartilage and conch and tragus and lobe, dangling with bars and hoops and all kinds of metal. But her face was fresh. Clean and unmasked, like the way her tresses were a soft, natural ashy brown and her eyes were wide and bambi-like, lashes seeming to brush the pale flesh of her cheekbones. Her lips were smooth and plump, the upper being near as pale as the rest of her skin but for a mild tint of pink. The lower seemed almost inadequately small compared, but it was charming.
Charming. Yes, this was one thing I could have noted about her for as long as I had let myself stare. There was something oddly provoking in the way she sang, or the look of her youthful dimples marking when she smiled at a certain line she liked, or found ironic. Charming in the way she wore her clothes a size too big so that her bird-like thinness would be masked and sheltered under denim and cotton and that high-collared white shirt she wore under a black, tight vest. The only time I had ever seen something snugly fit on her, and it emphasized the fact she was tiny, with just small, shadowed bumps where her breasts should be.
But her collarbone was beautiful where the shirt had been left open. Rigid but milky, leading up to her thin, swan-like throat. Every time I looked at it, I wished to press my lips there. Just a quick brush of flesh. And it was these thoughts that brought me back here. Because, as much as the charm was thick, and the sound of her voice inviting, it was the aspect that she was something interesting, and different, and wildly intoxicating with her naive beauty that made me stay.
I think, maybe, I had always been in love with her.
It was unsurprising that there were rainbow coloured pins on her messenger bag, or the stickers on her cell phone with pride emblems quite visible for the world to see. A proclamation of ‘look at me, I’m a dyke’ as if simply being one was not nearly enough. And it made me hesitate, because it was this exact cry for attention that brought many in college to their unprecedented phases. I, at a point, felt like one of them. But unlike them, I never really dug myself back out of it.
So here I sat, with cold coffee in hand, watching a girl who could have been five or six years younger than I was currently, playing a guitar and singing the same set of indie covers for the sixth or seventh time. And all the while, I felt a cold clamp of nausea welling deep within the pit of my stomach where a certain amount of heat seemed to blossom up and over each time I saw her face. And it was good, in that moment.
And every moment, till she spoke that very specific afternoon.
It had the sixth time I had seen her perform. The sixth time, and I had started to memorize the lyrics to each cover, and by the third I had downloaded the originals hoping to savor the sound as much as the image. This, unfortunately, wasn’t so, though the music wasn’t overly unpleasant. Just that, though it was a marvel how the words seem to pull at metaphorical strings I very much liked, it just didn’t seem right unless it came from her lips.
It had been six times since I had first chanced to find myself watching her, and things, as much as they changed that day, would have been so lovely if they remained the same. And though, as much as I should like to think I had been waiting for that one opening, I sometimes wonder if that were really the case.
But this is all conjecture. It’s not important. What is is the time she finally flicked those chocolate eyes in my direction, peering beneath those perfect bambi lashes for just a brief, apprehensive moment, and the voice that spoke, though husky and deep, was one I couldn’t shake.
“This ones for the girl in the back,” she said, lips pulling up at the corners into a soft, hesitant smile. “Who never seems to miss my shows.”
It was in these words, and at that very moment, I had felt the magnetic pulse. That driving force to be near. And in this, I had hoped, and never stopped hoping, that she felt the same.
This is just something I've been working on recently. Don't know if I particularly like it, and it's a bit excessive and gaudy, but its the first prose I've written in a long time so I'm quite pleased over the fact that I've been writing, even if badly. Enjoy ripping it apart!