by Qal Fessehaye
There was once a time when people fell in love because they thought they were good judges of character. A man would catch a fleeting glance of woman’s lustrous hair and her shiny red lips across a room and be convinced that she was beautiful and she would make a good wife because somehow he would just assume she’d be everything he’d ever wanted. He’d approach her and make small conversation over his glass of something strong. She‘d see his impressive negotiation with his liquor and the straightness of his shoulders and know he’d make a good husband. But mostly, the idea of being the object of his attention would overwhelm her and she’d instantly fall in love with him.
They’d look into each others eyes a lot. They would see something there. They always looked and saw something they liked.
He wouldn’t kiss her on the first day and she’d want him to but she’d tell herself that she’d say no anyways. He’d ask to see her again and she’d pretend to hesitate but she’d say yes. He’d worry too much about their date but whatever he does, she’ll find it romantic. This was a love story started.
I know I made it sound dull, mechanical. I’m a little resentful. It’s supposed to be beautiful, fireworks and all. It’ll never happen to me. There won’t be much for him to look into and like.
I met Danny online. I’m not very active but after he said hey, I lived almost exclusively in the cyber world.
My profile picture was a quote of a song. It was a Gerard Way Song.
“We want television bodies that we can’t keep
we have battles in the dark when she falls asleep…”
He thought it made me sound deep.
We talked a lot, day and night. I could always count on an unread message from him. He was a busy student, aiming to become something big someday and make the world a better place but somehow, he always found the time to text back to me.
He opened up to me so well, even talked about the time his zipper caught his penis when he was 14. The old school janitor helped him with it. It was the most embarrassing moment in his life, he said. It had felt good when it shouldn’t have. She’d noticed and then laughed at him.
I didn’t tell him a lot about myself. Just the basics, name, schools, siblings, parents.I could tell he was falling in love with me even though we’d never actually met. He’d ask me things and he cared so much about the most minor things like the time I told him I had a swollen lip, he spent a good fifteen minute surfing treatment tips for a swollen lip.
We both had separate lives with people and things to do but our private chat room was cozy and better. I read his texts like they were whispers in the dark and when he sent me four minute recording of songs he’d liked, it was like we had on split earphones, and we were lying head to head under my blanket. He’d send me pictures of his views sometimes. The view from his classroom window, from his favorite bar, from his bedroom window, from his bed. He wanted me there with him and I was. He was with me too.
The dreaded question came three months in. “I want to see you. Send me a picture of you.”
I said no.
“I don’t really care what you look like. I’d just like to think of a real face when I think of you.”
I said no.
“I swear I don’t care if you’re fat, skinny, black, white, blue. If you have a snout even. I just want to see.”
I still said no.
Three more months later, I agreed to meet up. I could only hug my pillow for so long. I knew it would be the end of it all but I hoped he would react so badly that maybe I would hate him.
We decided to meet up at a café in the city. It had an upstairs and it was usually empty before noon.
I wore a dress to show my pretty ankles and a leather jacket because I am deep. I didn’t try on much makeup because no make up could hide my little anomaly. But I ran red lipstick over my full lips, a tribute to all women of amour. I packed enough tissue paper and I tried to arrive before he did.
A thin boy who looked like he spends way too much time indoors sat looking out the large windows in the upstairs of the café when I arrived. He had on a regular flannel shirt above his regular jeans and regular converse on his feet. He was so regular, he was perfect.
His regular smile broke too fast and so suddenly that he didn’t have time to hide his surprise before it became offensive. For the silence that followed, I thought maybe I’d gone deaf too.
One eye might be enough to look into someone’s soul but if the other one is gruesome and blind, no one would come close enough to look.
Not even Danny.