Gardenia 9/18/10

The soft white petals nest gently in her hair. One small section touching the bare flesh of her face. It seems absurd to me that such a beautiful flower could look so plain and ordinary, but sitting next to her, being worn by her, it’s nothing. Her beauty is far more overwhelming than the poor flower could ever hope to be. After all, it’s just a flower. It looks nice, and it smells nice, but it doesn’t have her eyes. It can’t look at me the way that she does. Can’t coyly bat it’s lashes when I catch her looking. Can’t shyly turn away, embarrassed at herself.

She doesn’t know that she’s beautiful. I can tell that much. She doesn’t know anything of herself on the outside. All she knows is what is on the inside, and what she cares about. One of those things is not what other people think of her. This just makes her all the more beautiful. To know that it wouldn’t matter what I said to her, what compliments I might give, she would never truly believe them, it breaks my heart, but lifts it at the same time. It would be different perhaps if it were modesty, but it’s more than that. It’s an actual disbelief in what people might tell her about her appearance.

She’s not wearing that dress because she wants men to look at her and love her. She’s wearing it because she loves that dress. She loves the feel of it’s fabric on her skin. She loves the look of how it drapes when she looks down at herself. Maybe she spent a little while in front of a full length mirror before she came out, but she was only looking at the dress. Maybe turning around a little to see how it would flow with her movements. Maybe spinning a little quicker to see if it would flare out or bell. All her vision was focused on the dress alone if she spent any time at all studying herself in a mirror. But there’s a good chance she didn’t do much more than glance to make sure things were in all the right places.

There are decorations here and there on her body. The flower in her hair. A pair of earrings. A necklace. But no rings. No bracelets. Her coat wasn’t particularly fancy, either. I saw it when she entered, when she checked it. Just a black thing. Perhaps a little tattered. Kept in fairly good condition. Loved, but old. Her lack of need to show off is startling. I’m more used to women who need to be seen. Who need to have their things seen. Who need to be decorated like the window at Macy’s in order to be happy. But this girl, there’s not even a comb in her hair. Just bobby pins. Just those simple things to keep it in place while she does her thing. She is, in fact, the only women in the room without a comb in her hair.

I’ve noticed she’s not wearing much in the way of makeup, either. Just a slight blush on her cheeks. A quick black line at the top of her lids. A pale tint to her lips, perhaps more to give them shine then to give them color. It’s hard to reconcile a girl who isn’t in love with makeup, who doesn’t feel that she needs it. Or maybe doesn’t like it. It’s a testament to her beauty that she would be able to walk out of her home so unmasked.

Oh, if I could say for sure why she’d come. I can’t really know her mind unless she wants me to. Part of me thinks that she wants me to, but she won’t say it. Her doubts, her fears, they are all too much. That blush when she sees that I’m looking at her tells me so. Whatever she might want, she’s not about to reach out and take it. And if I were to pounce on the opportunity too soon? Would I scare her away? Would she believe my intentions were anything but dirty? How I wish to know her, hear her name. Listen to her stories, the tone and timbre of her voice, how she laughs.

Never in all of my life have I seen a woman who has intrigued me so instantly. A bit like a ghost, a bit like a phantom. I’m afraid if I try to touch her she won’t really be there. That if I try to coax her out to talk to me, she might flee.

But that way that she keeps looking at me. I would swear on a bible if I had one that within that look is hunger. It seems as if she might devour me whole if she got the chance. But how quickly it disappears behind that demure look. Those lashes. I catch it for a second, and then doubt it was ever really there to begin with. Is it me who is putting the meaning into the look? Is it my own wishing and hoping that has her like this in my mind? Surely a woman such as this isn’t truly thinking of the things she might do with me if we were alone. Surely that’s my maleness seeping out and touching the world around me.

It’s beginning to weigh on me what words I should utter. The more I wait, the harder it is to know what are the right things to say. What would draw her nearer to me? What will frighten her off? What will she not even care about? I can compliment her looks, her dress, her hair, the flower. Which would be the best thing? I could ask her if she’s having a good time, if she’s waiting for somebody, if she’s come with somebody that I didn’t see. There are a thousand questions forming on my lips, and not one of them will spill forth.

All I can think of now is missed opportunities. Never seeing her again. The biggest mistake of my life. It just places more pressure upon myself to do something now, say something before she leaves or the night is over for everybody.

She moves, I don’t know if it’s to go dance, get refreshments or abandon this place. But her flower falls from her hair. In an instant, I’m picking it up. Before I can even think about what I’m doing. The chance has come and my mind and body have decided to act before informing me that they were going to do so. Somehow in my lunge, I’m able to catch the gardenia before it even touches the floor. At the same time, my hand is reaching out to hers.

Just barely, our fingers touch. It’s like lightening from the gods above has moved between us. I feel a tingle in the skin of my hand, feel that electricity bolt through my arm and then my body. For just a moment, I can’t even speak, and then…

“Excuse me, miss. You seemed to have dropped your flower…”

Speak

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