The first thing I noticed about Evelyn was that she didn’t have a head. But I was in no place to judge. Most faces hadn’t been really been making much in the way of expressions lately anyway.
She had an aura of mosquitoes (read: congregating strangers) surrounding her like a team of professional surgeons whose looks held just as much blank intent.
I couldn’t gauge much from her eyes, mostly because she didn’t have a face, but there were tight kinks festering in her shoulders. Her arms were bound to her torso like a death at a festival. What appeared to be an inordinate amount of blood was pumping out of the pulp where her head should’ve been.
She wasn’t at a pleasant gathering with friends. Someone had trapped her there. Her spluttering heartbeat was a longing tap on the bars of the human cage that surrounded her. I had read online about how to help strangers out of awkward situations.
“Evelyn! There you are, it’s been too long.” I said, cutting through the crowd of observers and weirdos, and at least hoping her name was Evelyn.
Evelyn perked up. I could feel a real smile start to burn its way up through my gut like any other piece of bile.
“How’s life treating you?” I said.
Evelyn’s neck arched down. She gently clasped her back in her hand. I think she knew what it was like to ache.
“Hey, we don’t need to talk about stuff like that.” I said. “Let’s get out of here.”
She was upways when she realized I was here to save her. I reached out to her. When our hands touched, a spatter stained my shirt.
“Don’t worry.” I said. “You’re the only thing I care about.”
We walked out. Away, together. Our hands stayed held long after we knew we didn’t want to walk away.
The inches we’re apart feel like a formality. There’s an energy that bubbles where it didn’t before. When I say her name (repeatedly), it feels like she’s embracing my throat like good soup. We share each other’s driver’s licenses so we can find out each other’s full names. The popcorn at the movie theater tastes better. I can feel happy all the way down to my toes. When she sees me looking at her, her legs cross and she gets shy. The telltale spatter on my cheek lets me know when she likes me most.
“I’ll miss you.”
The second thing I noticed about Evelyn was that I was in love with her. Before I kissed her goodnight, her heart beat like the wings of a hummingbird. She walked away and the lights hugged her as tightly as I wanted to.
“Write me every day.” I joked. I would only receive one piece of written communication from her after this moment.
“I don’t know why you keep messaging me. I worry for your sanity. In the back of my head, I can’t help but worry for my safety. I don’t hate you, and I would never wound your feelings with intention. I’m not interested in the sort of sordid statements with potential to break your heart. But you have never met me, and I have only been in your company to the extent that you’ve blocked my exit. I hope sincerely that you do well, but also that you put me in no position to see it. In this respect, I hope to see you exactly as you see me. Either a stranger in passing, or not at all.”