"I think. . .that I'm drowning."
Today was more about living, and yesterday was more about drugs.
I remember the first day you took me by the hand and lead me into the city, exposing my pale flesh to the world like a Broadway show in the middle of Times Square. The homeless in the shadows watched you spin me in circles, making me dance, and the rich children in movie-star clothes stopped in their tracks and dropped their Frisbees, while the famous in the limousines called the world to a stop.
Everyone stopped and starred with awe in their crystal eyes as you twirled me around your finger, dipped me into the Fountains of Youth, and held me so close to the stars that it hurt. The sun beat down against my skin in vain, although it was merely March, as though we where in the middle of the desert in blooming July. I'd never felt such a thing before-never had I left the safety of the palace in the ghetto, windows boarded over and door bolted shut.
I ordered food from the only source of light in that gray safety-net, and instructed the confused delivery boys to put it in the metal box under the window, and push the button. The button brought the box under the walls and into my lap, and I'd empty it and send it back. If they stuck around long enough, I'd slip cash into the box once the pile was getting small, and smiled at the happiness I imagined them having when they found it. Although, a few times, the boys left because it was taking so long, and I hoped every time that the poor beyond the cemented walls enjoyed their feast.
When I ordered my December necessities, you where the delivery girl, and that was the day-and, in the bigger picture, the month-in which Fate and Destiny danced, forever entwining themselves, and ourselves, together.
"You want me to put it in this box, and push the button?"
After a steady hour you where done, and I smiled softly, and, along with the money for the food and such, I put a white envelope in the box. 'Do Not Open Until You Have Left' it read, and you obeyed because you thanked me and left-I imagined your smile, wide and bright and shimmering like the sea in the pictures on the screen of my only love.
The next day, you came back.
"Hey. It's me, the delivery girl?"
There was something in your voice that wasn't present the day before, besides the hesitant and questioning sliver of syllables, you where happy and that pleased me, although I was confused as to why you'd shown up again.
"Oh, hello. How nice to hear you again." Normal people would say 'see', but I couldn't see you-and that pained me.
"Thanks so much for the gift, you didn't have to, you know."
"Yes I did. It made you happy, didn't it?"
"Well, yeah. . ."
"Then what's the matter?"
"I'm just. . .not used to getting so much just given to me."
"I'm sorry if it was hard for you to accept, but I won't take it back."
"Yeah, I figured you'd say that. . .you paid for my mom and me's rent for three months, you know."
"Is that good?"
"It's. . .amazing, actually."
"Things have been hard lately."
"The bastard took everything and left us, poor and hungry."
We went on like that for a week, mindless chat at first, growing quickly into a deep and profound conversation like none other. Each day, when you left to go to work or to go home, sorrow swelled up my throat and I could barely croak a simple goodbye into the microphone without shedding a few tears; I'd never had a friend before.
On the 12th you decided that it was about time that we met. You stuffed yourself into the metal box and pushed the button, holding your breath for the longest 15 seconds of your life. I'd never seen another person before, and lost my voice when you tumbled into my lap. You where so soft and warm, and so light, I wondered how you hadn’t floated away in the wind-I'd heard that New York gets a lot of that, but I wouldn’t know.
My lips moved but my words where forever lost, taken from my soul by the beauty and innocence in your every feature. Your eyes where brown and sparkly, shinning gold in the fluorescent light from above. Your hair was silky and long, crimson in color that came from a bottle, black at the finest of roots.
"Didn't think you'd ever see me, did you?"
Your voice was so angelic and clear from The Inside versus The Outside through the speaker.
Worry dented your brow and you looked down into my skull, still having not moved from my lap. You lifted your hand, put it to my chin, and pulled my gaze up into your eyes.
"Hey, it's okay. No need to be scared or anything. I'm your friend, you know that."
Your gaze made my knees weaken, although I was still sitting down.
"You've lived here all your life, haven't you? And I'm the first human you've ever seen besides yourself, right?" Your voice was fluttered with realization and sprinkled with microscopic gasps.
Slowly, I began to speak. "Y-Yes."
You laughed softly, amused by my far-too-obvious nervousness. "So you've never seen the world?"
"I've seen The World, I have a computer, you know." I pointed to it, the blue screen pulsating behind you like a jealous heartbeat.
You smiled, and put your arms around my shoulders, causing me to go into Shock. "This is a hug." Kindness and trace amounts of laughter echoed in your words. "When you hug someone, you put your arms around them and hold them." I tried it, and your whole body smiled. "Good, that's it."
"Will you teach me. . .h-how to b-b-be. . .Human?" My voice shook as I asked, scared you'd mock me or refuse me or something else just as horrible to imagine.
"You're already human, you just need to grasp your core."
"My. . .Core?"
"Yes. I'll show you it. I promise."
We met like that every day, and you taught me everything that I'd ever need to know about being Human. You took me on a delicate tour of my Core, and every minute of it drove me to insanity, it was so thrilling. You called that Adrenaline.
In February, you taught me above the 'L' word, or as other Humans called it, Love.
"What is this. . .L. . .you speak of?"
"What is it? What does it mean?"
"The dictionary defines it 21 ways along with 6 idioms and 1 verb phrase."
"But. . .what does it mean?"
"Primarily. . .'a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person'."
"Oh. How do you know when it is here?"
"Sometimes you have to look real close to see it, concentrate, but sometimes it's obvious as blood in snow."
I smiled, gazing at your pearly white skin, pale in a beautiful way, and the waterfall of icicle blood falling from your head in a delicate wave. It was then that I first compared you to Love.
"Is Love a person?"
"Can love be a person?"
"Only in mythology, love is a feeling one has towards another."
On the first of March you arrived as you always did, only you dressed different than you normally did. Instead of the usual ripped jeans and worn T-shirt, occasionally topped with an old sweater, you where clad in an elegant black dress. It was strapless and swooped low-not low enough to by the clothes of a Skank, but low enough to reveal-, and fell to the ground with simple beauty, and hugged your figure in all the right places, making you look simply perfect. And again I compared you to Love.
As the first time you came into my world unannounced through the metal box, I starred in awe, mouth hanging open.
"Do you like it?" You stood up, and spun in a circle, slow and, dare I say, seductive. The back was tied up tight, like a corset, all the way to your tailbone, and I swore I could see your spine and other such back bones clearly.
You grinned, your whole body smiling at me happily. "My mom worked an extra job while I was here to save up for it, so I didn't know. It's my birthday present."
"Yeah, in the outside people give their friends and family present on their birthdays. Mine's today. I'm twenty now." You happiness grew, and I frowned.
"Why didn't you tell me? I don't have a present for you. . ."
"I didn't want you to go to the trouble."
"But you're my friend. I should."
". . .Your birthday's in a week, right?"
"How'd you know?"
"Lucky guess." You winked, and I wondered.
"You can't get me a present if I can't get you one."
"Don't worry, my present to you will be your present to me."
"I'm breaking down the door and taking you outside."
The next day you wore the dress again, and when you fell from the metal box I watched in awe as the fabric floated like a cloud and fell gracefully to the ground as, like always, you landed in my lap. A smile was painted on your face already, and I wonder what could be so amazing.
"You'll be nineteen, right?"
"I guess so."
"So you're still eighteen?"
"You need sunlight, you know. It's healthy."
"I'm fine. . .for what?"
"No, you're not fine. You're too pale."
"In that dress, you're as pale as me."
"But it looks good on you."
You didn't come again until the day of my birthday, and you wore the dress again, only this time the top and the lace of the back was sparkling with beautiful little crystals-I knew you couldn't afford diamonds. In your hands you held a box all wrapped in black fabric and tied with a bow of blood-red ribbon at the top.
You stood up and handed the box to me, then stepped back and watched, nervous and jittery as could be. I untied the ribbon with care, and set it to the side, then delicately pulled off the velvety fabric. The box was white and minimally heavy, I sat for a moment taking it all in. I'd never gotten a present before. You stood on the tips of your toes-I knew because I was watching the hem of your dress when it rose-and held your breath. I lifted away the top of the box, and gasped. Starring up at me was your dress in crimson, just like your hair, and even the crystals where the same. I pulled it out, holding it up by the bust, and stood, letting the box fall to the ground. My voice and my breath caught in my throat, making it impossible to breathe.
"Do you like it?"
Tears welled up in my eyes as I wondered how you'd gotten my size, you'd never asked me it before, and how you'd gotten to money to buy it. Tears choked up my eyes and fell in silent streams down my cheeks, and sadness filled your lips.
"You d-don't like it?"
I wasn't sure how to answer, so I laid the dress on the chair and hugged you, tight as I possibly could. In that moment, the world felt so right that it hurt to even think of anything else. Your arms fell over my shoulders and I clung tighter to your waist, my arms creeping up your back and latching to your shoulders. Your heartbeat echoed in my ears, and thundered through my entire body.
"I think. . .I know who Love is."
Your body smiled again, like it loved and I loved it to. I smiled in response, suddenly wondering if my body could smile like yours could.
"You should try it on-see if it fits."
"How did you afford it?"
I let go of you hesitantly and picked up the dress, cradling it in my arms.
"The last few days. . .I was working."
"A second job?"
"Yeah. . .'job'."
I stepped into the shadows and unzipped my jeans, letting them fall to the floor, and peeled off my shirt and let it fall, too.
"Um. . .how do you put on a dress?"
You laughed as I stood there, suddenly quite shy and self-conscious. Slowly, you walked over, letting your eyes adjust to the dark, and you gasped.
"You're so thin!"
"No, this is how girls look."
"Honey, it's not how they're supposed to look. . .I can count your bones." Your voice shook and cracked, your mind obviously racing to figure out how I could look like Perfection when I bought so much food. "What about the food?"
"I eat barely any of it. Like I Should. Most goes out the box and to the poor Outside."
"Why do you think you. . .should?" Tears welled up in your eyes, and suddenly I was very afraid to touch you, as though you where made of glass and one touch could break you.
"The internet. All over, the girls look like Perfect. I look like Perfect."
You started to cry, and I backed into the corner, falling to my knees and crying with you. It occurred to me that maybe I wasn't your Perfect or your Love or your Anything anymore, and I clutched my stomach so tight that it hurt to even so much as breath.
Slowly, you turned, and gazed upon my shaking figure with kindness.
"Hey, it's okay. If that's your perfect than it's my perfect, too."
"Y-y-you really m-mean it?"
A smile was your only response as you took my hand gently, and pulled me to my feet. "We've gotta get you dressed if we're going outside today."
You showed me how to curl up in the metal box, and how to push the button without risking hurting your fingers when the box launched. You said you'd wait outside for me, so it would be easier. I watched you go, and still, I cried, careful not to get any on my new, beautiful dress. You told me that it was okay to come out and I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and squeezed into the small space. I pressed the button and kept my eyes shut like the wallets of the rich around the needy and let no air enter my lungs.
I landed in your lap, eyes still closed and not yet breathing. "Open your eyes, doll." Your voice was soft, and your hand slipped into mine. I think I almost broke every bone in that precious hand of yours.
Slowly, I opened my eyes, and gasped. Even in the Ghetto there was beauty. Air that would be chilly to any Normal Human struck my skin like matches, and the sun danced on my skin like fire. "It's so hot here." You laughed and said something about Phoenix in the summer-I wasn't paying attention, I was too busy starring at my Love.
In the sun, your features where intensified. Your eyes glowed like liquid gold and your hair shone like silky blood. Your skin reflected the light in the most beautiful way, and you looked like an Angel to me. I gasped and continued to stare, and pink started to bloom in your cheeks like fireworks. "Do I have something on my face?"
You laughed, and your cheeks broke out in more pink fireworks.
We entered the park in a daze, hands held tight and our skin soaking up so many starring eyes that it was almost sickening. There, in the middle of Central Park, you taught me how to dance. Your feet moved in perfect harmony and your arms sang out in a beautiful melody, guiding my fumbling body. Hundreds of eyes stopped and starred at the two girls in the sparkling satin dresses twirled through the most elegant and beautiful dance they had ever laid eyes on. Traffic stopped and people left their cars, awed by the fact that as the girls danced, a light snow began to fall, landing in their hair like rain and shimmering like diamonds in the desert. A pearl-white smile graced each sweet face, and in that confusion the world entire was changed.
Somehow we ended up waltzing through Times Square and then we landed on my doorstep, my head dipped down and your arms the only thing keeping me from a damaged brain. Without a word you lifted me, and kissed my forehead. We entered back through the metal box, you first once again, and you caught me in your arms, standing. Somehow you knew where my bedroom was and carried me there, fire glowing in your eyes. None of the lights where on, but I could still see you and it appeared as though you could see me, too. You set me down gently on my brand-new unused bed from twelve years ago, and pulled the ribbon from my corset. It fell to the ground like a shinning strip of blood, and my dress fell. You lifted my legs and slipped it off, hunger in your lips. You turned around, and I pulled the ribbon from your corset, careful to watch your dress fall to the ground in harmony with my own. Your whole body smiled like I loved so much, and then you showed me what Love truly is.