I saw her when I was 13. I wasn’t into girls yet, but I needed to be near her. I wondered what her long blonde hair smelled like and wondered why I was thinking something so weird.
I rode the chairlift with her and asked her the time to say something. I found the courage 30 seconds before we had to get off. I thought we could get along because she was the best girl skiier but why did I know her eyes were brown and why didn’t I call them almond or chocolate — why could i close my eyes and see every fleck like a brushstroke — and am I thinking of her as art?
Over the winter I saw her be a big sister. I heard her laughter when it was irrepressible — she would lean back and grin and her teeth were perfect and she was and I didn’t want to think about her as I did. I never meant to and it’s not my fault.
She always covered her smile with her hand when she saw me looking. I said I loved her smile — it made me smile. She never smiled for long.
This time I said I still see you smiling.
She said from behind her hands Not possible.
I said I see your smile in your eyes. I see you happy and–
She didn’t like me. And I was honest with her — I would answer her before thinking of an answer.
I followed her and as I approached she turned and I was ready to apologize for whatever but she leaned her forehead against mine and I smelled her hair.
I said Erika it’s OK and don’t run away but are you crying?
She sniffed a plugged nose and said I know why you’re nice to me. I forgot for a second. I believed it for a minute.
You believed what I say to you? Tears dropped from my eyes into hers, but I wasn’t crying… I so often felt like the other side of her mirror.
She turned and left and I almost fell on my face. Or maybe I did.