The sun and the birds began their wakeup call. Diana came alive. Her hand reached to the other side of the bed. It was still warm from his body’s imprint. The humming of water running signaled it’s time for her to go. She moved to his side. The pillow smelled just like him: beer, aftershave, and sweat. She soaked it all in, remembering every inch of him. When they were together, in those moments, the rules didn’t matter. He was her. This was the only way he could be hers.
As she got dressed, her eyes turned to every direction. His clothes tossed all over the room. Textbooks still taped in their original wrapping, his one poster of Johnny Cash staring back, and his endless piles of photos neatly stacked by his bed. During the day, when she watched him, she noticed he wasn’t without his camera. He lived behind his lens. The first night they met, she wanted so badly for him to take a picture of her, but she knew that wasn’t their deal.
With the temptation set in front of her she grabbed the stack of photos. The first picture, a girl’s back turned to the camera. Her long light brown hair moved with the wind. The white dress she wore clings to her body, trapping her innocence forever in this picture. The sun blesses her with the life of a goddess. Picture after picture honoring this girl. Faceless, but the girl dreams are made of. Diana’s stomach cringed. How do some girls become worshipped and others hide in the shadows? She thought.
The bathroom doorknob started moving, and she quickly placed the rest of her things from last night in her purse. Off she went, back to being his nothing.
Her roommate didn’t ask where she was last night. They were pass that point in their living situation. They didn’t speak. Diana grabbed a bagel, slapped it with tons of cream cheese, and then searched her purse for the notes on Thursday’s lecture. She searched through old gum wrappers, barely used makeup, notepads of unorganized notes, and busted pens. She grabbed for the notepad and then realized she accidentally tossed the stack of photos in her purse as she made her exist.
Her mind began racing. It was an accident. He’d have to understand that. The pictures were evidence of her crime and they had to be disposed of soon.
The rest of the day went by quickly; a meeting, phone conversation, laundry, errands, and avoiding her.
Daily, Diana passed girls like the one in the picture. She never envied them, because their lives existed on different plains. They were never her competition, and she was never theirs. But somehow now their path and hers were in direct collision. Beautiful, mysterious, fun, adventurous, dreamy, they were the girls’ guy fought dragons to save. The girls that had blogs dedicated to them, songs written about them, the kind guys never forgot. Those girls that attack men’s minds at the height of their ecstasy, grab their hearts, and bring them to the warmest sense of hope. She is his heaven.
Diana never wanted anything more than she did right now. Her hair not long like that day’s night. Her legs not endless like the ocean. Her body not perfect, like a mermaid. Her eyes not blue like the sky, her face not smooth, like silk, and no voice of an angel. A girl by sex, but not by poetry.
At the bar he worked, no one knew her, nor did she make an entrance. No one bought her a drink, or talked to her. She sat there waiting for him to look up at her for twenty minutes. When his eyes finally glanced upon hers, there was a sense of recognition, but not much else.
“Hey you”, he said.
She gave him a half smile.
“Can I get you anything?”
“No. I just accidentally picked up something at your apartment.”
He glanced around the room the minute she mentioned apartment. She chuckled to herself a little, noticing it. She guessed she had no right to be angry about that.
She took the pictures out her purse and handed them to him.
“Oh thank you”, he said staring at the pictures. He left this world and entered to the girl’s in the picture. Smiling to himself, and looking at one picture after another.
“I bet she’s really pretty”, Diana said.
“Do you know her, or is she just a muse of some sort?”
“I met her once. Freshman year”, his hands glided on the picture and his eyes never left it.
“Do you love her?”
“Huh?” He finally looked back at Diana.
“I said do you love her?”
“Oh that be silly, you know? I only had one conversation with her.”
“But it was enough to make her the subject of so many pictures.”
“Because she’s beautiful. Like a dream.”
“You can fall in love with beautiful dreams….I did.”
He gave a half smile. Diana bit her lip down and fiddled with her purse. Trying everything she could not to break.
“You should go after her. You know? Make the beauty a real thing.”
“Di…why are we talking about this? Are you mad about something? Trying to end things.” He whispered.
“Can’t end what you never had.”
“Okay….so we’re cool?”
“She’s really beautiful.”
“Yeah, but you’re great too.”
“Oh, great too. What every girl dreams about hearing.”
“Di, please don’t make a scene. We can talk more about it later tonight.”
“We won’t talk tonight. We never talk.”
“Okay? Is that what this is about? Talking?”
“Do you think I’m beautiful?”
“Yeah, you’re very pretty.”
“I didn’t say pretty. I said beautiful. You don’t think I’m beautiful. I’m not her, so I’m nothing to you. I’m nothing.”
“I thought we were mature enough to not have a conventional relationship, and you’re overreacting about a picture. “
“Not one. Forty. Forty pictures of a girl you had one conversation with, five years ago. Pictures you keep by your bed. We’ve been together, if you want to call it that, for four months, and you haven’t once taken a picture of me.”
“I’ll take a picture of you now. Just don’t be dramatic. I don’t need drama right now.”
The water from her eyes made the vision of him blurry. He just stared at her, no longer speaking, waiting for her response.
“She’s really beautiful.” Diana said staring at the girl in the picture, her hell.