.I Only Have Eyes For You.

He and She were both looking at “Her” and “Him” but what they saw was different. 

.She.

She walked under the glittering passage into the main court. Her dress felt ten times tighter than when she had put it on in front of her mirror only an hour ago and fifty times tighter than the day she had bought it- yesterday. Heads turned, mouths opened, compliments flowed. She thanked them for their lies. All the time knowing what they really wanted to say was ‘Why did she think she could get away with this outfit?’, ‘Why did she even come here?’ That is what she was thinking after all. Her eyes darted around desperately searching for a nearby shelter from the silent criticisms but their efforts were interrupted when her gaze fell on Him. Oh God.

.He.

Oh God. She is here. He steadied himself and headed in her direction.

.She.

Her dress constricted, she could hardly breathe, she thought about running away, it was not too late…until it was. He was in front of her, he said hi, her mind shut down. All she could do was stare helplessly into his kind eyes; he tried again, “Hi”. This time she managed to whisper a response and arrange her face into a friendly-enough grimace. Panic began to set in. The longer he looked at her the more her panic grew, she folded her arms across her chest to hide her shaking hands. They stood a while and chatted about nothing much at all. It was not the first, nor the second or even third time they had met. Yet, they could not seem to make it past the awkward rituals of a first meeting. She could never understand why he always made the effort to approach her. She was not cool, she was not confident, she was average; unlike him. Why was he still standing there?

.He.

“Why am I still standing here? I should leave, she wants me to leave”. He was panicking, he did not want to leave. He decided to strike up conversation. He asked the first thing that came into his head, he just wanted to talk to her about something, anything, he did not care what. He noticed her folded her arms, she must be bored. Seized by a sudden wave of courage, he asked if they could meet the next day; he could have sworn she looked surprised- he must have imagined it. Her features hardened again, she hesitated, probably thinking of a way to decline politely, he opened his mouth to retract his stupidity but her voice quickly shut him up: “Sure.”

.She.

“Maybe we could do something tomorrow?”  Sorry? Did she hear him right? She replayed it in her head a few times, shocked then confused, confused then shocked, confused and shocked! He was looking at her expectantly, it was definitely a question and questions need answers; so she should answer, fast- “Sure…?” She could have sworn he looked surprised- she must have imagined it. They set a time and a place; they smiled; they parted.

The night passed her by in a swirl of faces and voices, nothing was making sense anymore. That one invitation had well and truly fucked with her decorum. She was happy, she was excited; she was scared; she was fat; she was in the kitchen. Still in the ever-tightening dress she raided cupboards and the fridge for something edible to calm her down or maybe to justify her negativity. Moments like these made everything awful she believed about herself a reality bringing to life the crippling mantra repeated constantly in her head. Then came the release. She still hated herself but somehow she was calm, her mind was clear and decided on her sub-humanity. If anyone were to see her now, they would agree, they would see that she was not crazy, and acknowledge that “she simply was not good enough”. Exhausted, she gave into sleep.

* * *

Awake now and feeling the consequences of her episode, she thought of all the ways she could avoid the plans made the night before. She could say she was sick…it was not a lie…but it was too obvious. She could just be honest and say she had made a mistake in accepting; she was almost certain the question had been a mistake anyway, maybe he meant to say “I should do something tomorrow” or maybe he was talking to someone beside her, or maybe he had her confused with someone else…yes…that was it. What if she turned up and he was expecting someone else? Even worse, what if she turned up and she was not what he remembered? She was wearing makeup and it was dark and they were drinking! She definitely should not go. She still had ten minutes.

.He.

He arrived ten minutes early, he had never been like this with any girl- or anyone- before. Sweaty palms and a dry mouth were new to him, it scared him. He had never seen himself settling down. In many ways the thought was still far off but he knew he would regret not getting to know her so he told himself it would not be anything serious, they could just hang out and be close, he could still keep his options open…only those options were looking a lot less appealing as of yesterday. This scared him.

.She. 

She had thought about it, ten minutes was too little time, she did not want to give him more reasons to dislike her. So, just as she had the night before, she put on her mask of normalcy, heaved a sigh and left; mentally preparing herself for rejection and disappointment. She arrived, he was already there. The shaking started, he beamed. The shaking increased. She felt like she was going to crumble into little nervous pieces, his smile was so genuine! He was genuinely happy to see her! No. She would be calm and she would be distant, she needed to protect herself and she needed to protect him. Their greetings were cordial and their conversation casual as they ordered their drinks and sat down. At first, sentences were broken and silences were long but soon enough hours were flying by and neither of them noticed. He told her a funny story and she burst into laughter, she could not help it. All of a sudden it was he who was calm and distant. They had been getting on so well, she did not feel completely comfortable by any means but it had not seemed like an impossibility before this unwelcome change. Had she said something? Done something? Had he finally looked at her properly?

.He.

They were laughing and he had looked at her, looked at her properly. He did not want to look away. Her smile was beautiful. He did not tell her that because he did not want anything serious, surely she must know anyway. How could she not? He felt his face drop as the fear of falling too hard started to bubble, it was impossible to put it right. He could tell she had sensed a change too, they had finally managed meaningful conversation, he had opened up and he had hoped she might too but now she was shutting off again, her laughter dried up until it stopped. She looked at her watch, it was over. They stood to leave, he was gripped by courage once again. He reached for her hand, she innocently moved it away.

.She.

She did not stop thinking about their meeting, their date, their…no! She was fantasising again. She had promised herself she would not. What was his reaction anyway? It had unnerved her, she could not let it go. He had suggested meeting again and she had hesitated again before offering the same uncertain “sure”. She could not believe what was happening.

.He.

When he tried to take her hand she flinched but when he asked to see her again she agreed. She was obviously unsure of him, he could not blame her; she could do better. She must know it. Still, he anticipated their meeting. Their next date came. They sat, they stared, they laughed, they even argued! He shared his dreams, his plans, his worries- except for any which included her. She listened, she reacted and told some stories of her own-except for those which shaped and haunted her the most. They stood to leave, he reached for her, she innocently moved away.

.She.

They continued to talk regularly, their awkward starts were a thing of the past. She had learnt a lot about him and with the more she learnt, the more she fell. She realised his confidence masked insecurities, some of which rivalled her own; she wanted to help him, to stop him from feeling sad and uncertain. She wished that he would see what her eyes saw, that her heart, soul and eyes belonged to-Him. All of him, his insides and his outsides. More and more she thought about finally opening up to him, telling him everything to help them both. It would be nice to have the support. It was her turn to be courageous and accept him.

They stood to leave, he did not pull her in.

.He.

To him it was beginning to seem like his efforts always lead to a dead end, like she was just was not that into him. He could not blame her, she could do better. What did it matter anyway? He did not want anything serious, it was best for both of them not to keep trying to pursue anything. He should not hold her back, he would never be able to give her the support she needed or deserved. Although he could see only her, he would let her see someone else.

.She.

Was it too late? Every-time they met she nonchalantly batted away his attempts to get closer to her physically and emotionally because she was not ready. Now she was. If he would not, she would be the one to pull him in.

She stepped towards him, he turned away.

* * *

The lights were off, she wept in her deep darkness, she could not, did not want to see anymore. Every surface, every face reflected her own distorted vision of herself. Alienated from the world and disgusted with herself, she longed for an escape. With eyes shut tight, she let the capsules slip down her throat and welcomed the permanent sleep as it set in.

.He.

The lights were on, he wept in her blinding light. The faint line between her brows was all that was left of her torment. He might have turned away but she was always in his eyes. He only wished that she could have seen what his eyes saw, what his heart, soul and eyes belonged to-Her. All of her, her insides and her outsides.

She had never been more beautiful than in that moment. She was free, she was Her.

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