portrait of a girl

She’s sitting on the concrete facing the street, arms around her knees and her hair is in knots falling around her downcast eyes, feet crossed at the ankles, scuffed up toes of her boots the beginning of opposite trajectories headed for the sky. She’s still, very still. You want to ask her what’s her story, why is she outside when the clouds are threatening to rain, why is she alone and why doesn’t she have a jacket. You want to sit down next to her, disregard the dirt on the ground and be next to her. You want to listen.

Maybe it’s because you have a feeling that no one else does. Maybe it’s because you’ve felt like she looks, wrapping yourself up as if to take up as small of a space as possible. Maybe it’s because no one listens to you, either.

You think about saying hello.

She looks up, then, a passing glance to the other side of the street. Her eyes are vacant, but in an interesting way—they are like the sky after a heavy rain, only clear because of some previous violence. There is some rawness to her, some vulnerability in the slight parting of her lips and the heaviness of her eyelashes and the way her cheeks round out and then slope down, the way she is so beautiful but so tragic. You wish she were looking at you.

And you wish you could take yourself out of the equation. To stop wanting because of yourself, to stop doing things because of you. You want her to see you, to notice you, but you don’t want to want that. You want to know her story, to know her, but if you are listening then you have inappropriately forced yourself into her story. You don’t belong in the world that she comes from. You can’t ever really know her, because you’re you.

So you walk past her, eyes averted.

You think about her on the days after a rainstorm.


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