You wouldn’t have even noticed her.
She sat alone at a table for two in the center of a sunlit café, and yet, you would not have taken notice, for even a moment, that she was there. She smiled softly to herself.The smile of innocence one sees on the faces of children when they play and on women in love when they sleep.
Somehow, you couldn’t see her.
She had been out for an afternoon walk when a still voice beckoned her stop here. The voice, somehow audible, stemmed from the inside, found its way from the songs of the birds and to her ears.
It was spring.
It was spring and she wore white linen.
She wore white linen and one silver ring bearing a single stone. Red. One might have inquired about the stone, had one taken notice of her at all.
She would have told you that she made the purchase some years ago, with cash. She would have told you it was cash only so you might understand that it represented a promise of self. A promise paid in full on one afternoon and discovered over the years that followed.
It was spring then, too.
Spring comes every year.
She was different then.
You might have noticed her.
She was young and brazen and broken-hearted. It was the broken-hearted part that you might have noticed. You might have tried to put her back together again.
You would have told her you wanted to try.
Winter would come, it would be long and cold and you would fail. She would have known that from the first moment, but she never would have told you.
She wanted to watch you try, to see what you look like when you are in love.
To know the sound of your voice, to be intimate with the pauses that sleep between words, to know which of them your heart placed its involuntary emphasis on when you spoke, “I Love You.”
She knew she couldn’t love you. That’s why she let you stay.
She never said the words back to you, only absorbed them to the root of her slight form. Like a wildflower soaking in the first rain of spring, she absorbed your love at her root.She knew she couldn’t love you but you would keep her safe until spring.
It comes every year.
Every year it has come and she has grown older.
She has grown older and she is no longer brazen and her heart, is no longer broken.
Sometimes, she wonders when that happened. When fragments came whole forming woman; imagines a sculptor working in reverse. Reconstructing sculpture shattered one day when it met the ground, thinking all hopeless. Learning, as the pieces came together again, that his work was even more beautiful than before.
It would please her to mark a calendar with the day when she was no longer fragments. She cannot mark the day, doesn’t know when it came.
Only that it must have been in spring.
It must have been in spring and you were not the sculptor.
She sits in the café silently, watches the comings and goings, the lives of others. Wonders, which might be wildflowers and which might be rain. She sees the spirits of those who know the story of the sculptor. Sees that they, too, became more beautiful after being shattered.
She sees the inside scars on the skin.
Knows the posture of the man who has suffered the greatest of tragedies at his own hand, the hands of the woman whose tragedies are still unfolding, still falling like leaves do in autumn so the branches might be bare and exposed for winter’s coldest nights. She knows that if the winter is long enough, if the nights are cold enough that come spring the rain might feel like grace dancing on her skin.
It is spring and it is raining.
She leaves the café silently and you follow, never knowing she was there.
She wears white linen in spring rain. Rain is light, like fingertips dancing on flesh, the hands of a lover in the moments between dreams in the night. White linen presses her skin, dampens it like kisses.
She is standing on the corner in the rain, her silence emanating laughter only birds and children can hear. Spring rain beads on her skin.
You pause and you see your water reflection on her shoulder. You stand, mesmerized by the truth of your reflection on her flesh. As though you are seeing yourself for the first time.
If you noticed her, you might ask her what it was that made her so beautiful. She might tell you the story of the sculptor. She might leave out the parts you didn’t need to know yet. The parts that she knows you aren’t ready to know.
If you were, you would have seen her right away.