Eyes widened, she tries to swallow eyes swallowing her, as though she might prevent the tiny
tongues of judging pupils from licking her seemingly unseemly contours. This is impossible, a
useless expense of calories. Those judging pupils are too busy trying to prevent those other
imaginary pupils from extending tongues of their own.
It started in class, as several things do. Theorems, puzzles, friendships, ideas, daydreams, cheat
sheets. For him, it began something fairly ordinary. It also started with a girl, as several things
do. Paintings, poetry, war, life, headaches, novels. She was an ordinary girl, as he saw her from
across the room. But today, she had deemed it necessary to sit behind him. Well, not behind him,
per se, but behind the boy who was sitting next to him, but behind him is just enough for this
story. She was actually not so ordinary, she was actually witty, or so he had thought when he
first heard her speak. But she didn’t remember him from that time, so the memory fumbled from
his hands and thudded with the horrible squish of an overripe fruit, inedible. She remembered the
time, and the place—she just didn’t remember him in it, which would later actually be horribly
ironic, all things considered. He found that he quite liked her and that she was rather clever and
that she would understand his obscure references in the esoteric world that is geekiness. He
watched as she could fluidly move from one topic to another, comforted to find that his mind
was moving in the same direction. But then the bell would ring, and it was over, and he would
forget, and someone else would call his name, and he would answer, and she would frown and
pick up her books, disappointed. This is the way things began.
She sees a familiar Face, and forgets her forced façade. (Writing this later, she will try to
say this five times fast, failing miserably.) She has not seen said Face for quite some time. She
tells her that this is a great party, but this is a lie, because great parties are parties where she sees
him, but terrible parties are also those where she sees him, so she becomes confused. The
familiar Face says something, and she nods as though she had been listening, but really she is
trying to spot him. He hadn’t said he would be here, but he hadn’t said he wouldn’t. She didn’t
know what he had said because she didn’t call him. An unusual step, but a necessary one. The
familiar Face remembers that she doesn’t actually know her very well and heads in another
direction. She is relieved but also very suddenly bereft, and misses Whatsername a great deal,
because she was quite fond of Whatsername now that she thinks about it, but it is too late, and
she is stuck, holding a half-empty Dixie cup of beer that she won’t drink, and she is back to
guarding herself from the rough tongues of what she doesn’t realize are glassy, unfocused eyes.
Parties without him are stupid.