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When a Character studies a Character Studying a Character… July 17, 2014

Posted by michaelnjohns in Uncategorized.

Loving her was wrong for some reason, but he couldn’t figure out why, because it was right. He didn’t love her the way the world thought. But no one would understand that. They would look at him and think things he wasn’t thinking, because she was so beautiful. They talked at the coffee shop, they shared what they were writing, and that was that. But the window to her soul was open to him and he loved that view more than what everyone could see on the outside. Her soul was not perfect. It was somehow tragically deeply, deeply scarred. He wanted to reach in and fix it, but knew he didn’t have what she needed. Even if he did, he knew he couldn’t get that close.

The saddest part was, they matched. At a soul-deep level, they seemed to lace perfectly fitted fingers and hold hands and he never, ever, wanted to let go. But their histories had their lives on vectors that would never meet at anything more than a tangential opportunity. They became friends by accident, just a chance meeting once at the coffee shop. A two minute conversation became a deliberate outreach, by him, to continue, as much as their differing orbital tracks would coincidentally allow.

He always relished their brief interactions, and in between, waited anxiously for the next chance to talk to her. She gave a gently tinkling laugh, like soft wind chimes. He heard brokenness but not bitterness. There were other pretty faces, but their souls were dark in that way he didn’t like at all. Pretty faces, but their laughter rubbed him the wrong way somehow. Their personalities smiled beautifully, but held selfish intentions just barely under the surface, with smiles that would hurt you if you crossed them, and maybe even if you didn’t.

She was different. And yes, he noticed how beautiful she was. And yes, he noticed the dark edges. She often traveled deep into the evil places a soul can go, into dark valleys of heart and mind where he would have been hopelessly lost. She was acquainted with the darkness, like the house you grew up in, but he would have never been able to feel his way back. If he ever went that far, the way back would have pained him more than it seemed to pain her. Even her soul continually scraped along and gashed itself on shards of psychological glass and harshly abrasive mental metals and splintering, soul-shredding dark woods.

He marveled at her survival. Her coping mechanisms weren’t enough, but somehow they were enough because she stretched out to the living world and reached just high enough to look like everything was normal. She couched things in humor and being nicer than anyone he had ever met before. She dealt with the scars of past and present lives with quiet, superhuman strength that she took for weak, near-broken frailty. She said she worried that she was holding on to a last, single thread, about to fall beyond escaping. And it was the dance, and her way of talking about it and writing about it, and her way of dealing with it without killing herself and everyone around her, that made him love her deeply and completely, in a gut way he didn’t understand. He wanted to save her, without messing anything up. But if he tried, he knew he wouldn’t be strong enough because of his own dark edges. He knew it would be a disaster. He would only make her situation worse, more burdensome.

In the interest of not complicating the relationship, and not messing things up if his words were taken in the wrong way, he just kept them inside and never said anything. Besides, he didn’t really want anything from her except to love and admire her, in the purest way possible. She was some kind of classical, tragic, perfect beauty that men in their right minds would have done insane things, literally anything, for. He would do anything for her himself, without any expectations. But he couldn’t take the chance of telling her, for fear of saying it wrong.

He wondered if other people ever felt a similar struggle. There was the inner desire to just hug her and tell her everything was going to be all right, as if the hug could somehow make it so. He wished both- he wanted to hug her and tell her everything was going to be all right, and he wanted the hug to magically heal the raw scrapes, and new and old cuts he saw on her forearms but knew were really in her soul. There was an inner restraint that kept him from ever telling her anything. He sat in the coffee shop quietly listening, quietly loving. His heart was a spinning hurricane one hundred million times bigger than the coffee and cream he stirred until it homogenized, and just as hot. And the emotions he felt had no place at all where they could ever go. His mind was a pressurized, trapped exposion, where his life’s circumstances and prior choices met violently with his impossible wishes. And it was all tightly stuffed in a little glass ball.

She knew it. She knew exactly how he felt, and quietly admired his restrained adoration, and celebrated inside. His love, the purity and wholesomeness and darkly curious innocence of it, was one of very few small threads she held, that kept her from descending further into desperation. And she couldn’t tell him because she knew everything might go wrong. She couldn’t take the chance. He was too precious. But when she was in the darkness, surrounded by thick cloying layers of it that she could feel, she imagined the light and struggled to get out of her funk, just enough to get out of her bed, and get out of her house, and get out of her neighborhood, and get out of her car. She put on her pretend smile for all of the spectators, so innocently grating at her, merely by existing, and felt it become a real smile when she looked out and saw his smiling eyes.

From the espresso and guilt filled desperate darkness of his own soul, his eyes looked at her eyes in a kind of amazed hypnotic trance, and his pretend smile turned to a real one at the same time.



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