Title: Imaginary Girls

Rating: PG-13

Summary: Thoughts had walking around a college campus, talking to an imaginary girl, about love and life, as though she were really there.

Author's note: I never though I'd post this… because it's the most honest thing I've ever written. But I think it's time I did. Feedback would be appreciated, but I don't need it for this piece. It's a part of me. But I'd like to hear your words.

Dedication: Sorting through the words

That I've written on the page

Words of illusions- imaginary girls

Words of love and of rage

Your face is the one I see

Your eyes- always your eyes

So when I think of who it's to

And I can't tell myself pretty lies

Because the words I've written down

I've spilled them from my heart

And I'd dedicate this sweetly…

But you know who you are

To be honest, daylight savings time bothers the hell out of me for a lot of reasons, but for the most part, it's just because it means I don't get to be in the dark most of the time. I like the dark, it's my friend, and always has been. I could hide in the dark, from anything, from everything. From myself.

Because in the dark, no one can see me right, not even myself. They don't know from a distant if I'm a man or a woman, and if I had actual scars lining my face, they wouldn't see those either. And they wouldn't be able to see the hurt on my face, or the tears in my eyes. Pain becomes my own, even if it wasn't always. Even if it shouldn't have been to begin with.

And I can lean up against the cool brick of the building, with the brisk wind on my face, and smoke a cigarette, until I remember I don't smoke, and no one will know I'm there. Because I shouldn't be here… I don't belong here. I never did, and I never will. I came here, all this way, looking for the girl. The Girl.

And I wouldn't be here, except for the thought in the back of my mind, what if she's the one? What if this is it, what if the road stops here? What if I could look over my shoulder and see her standing there in some sort of poetic justice?

Since when was my life a scene out of a bad movie, anyway? Since when did it come down to meeting a girl at some dance, and then driving down to her college to a lecture I didn't really want to go to, just in hopes of finding her… Since when was life a bad, bad romance flick?

Go through life, trying to find someone who really loves you, and you know it's not that simple, it doesn't quite work that way. And you don't find it, not what you're really looking for. You're always just settling, settling for what you've got, for what you can get, for the feelings, using them like a drug. The way you feel when you see her face, when she slips through your hands again, silver waters sliding through your fingers.
And I keep waiting for it, you know? Keep waiting for me to lift my eyes from the cement and see her standing there a beautiful smile on her face with her arms open to me, letting me in. letting me feel happiness. Letting me feel something.

I push off the wall and start walking, staring straight ahead. "This whole deal really fucked me up, you know?" I say casually to an imaginary her. I shoot a glance to where she should be standing, if she was there. "I used to be so goddamn sure about everything. I'm not… I'm not so sure anymore, ya know?"

"No, I don't really," she says, smiling a bit as she does, and running her imaginary fingers through her imaginary hair. "I don't understand why it's all so important to you.

"It just is," I mutter back. "It's the principle of the thing, you know. It's this whole, I felt some sort of… Christ, I don't know, cosmic connection to you. It doesn't seem right to just let go of that, you see."

"But… I certainly don't feel it for you," she argues. "So what principle is there really?"

"None," I concede. "But that doesn't change anything." I shrug and cast another sidelong look to where she should be walking next to me, if she was real. "You just seemed worth it is all."

"You're sweet," she compliments me. "Really kind of sweet in an odd, stalker like way. But sweet nonetheless."

"Well, thank you," I reply, feeling a blush creeping up my neck. I manage to fake an embarrassed grin, because that's how I am. She manages to give me a serious mocking look, the kind where she grins and looks at me over her nose. Not of course, that's she's ever actually given me that look. Or at least, not that she ever meant to. Or is now. You know what I mean.

"I'm not sure," she tells me slowly, "If that's actually a good thing. I mean, if you think about it, there's lots of drawbacks to being sweet, aren't there?" She shrugs slightly and reaches over to grab my hand, swinging it slightly once she grasps it. "I mean, being sweet has certainly made you a world class sap."

I cringe slightly at the last remark, but I shrug. "I don't know. I mean, it's just how I am. I don't know if I would change it, not really. It's how I am. It makes me… it makes me who I am. Mick."

"Well then," she quips. "That's just stellar, then, isn't it?" I shrug this time more defensively. "I mean, isn't that how you got yourself in this mess in the first place, Mick-mick?" She kicks a rock, and I wonder if it was a calculated move to make me think she's not taking this as seriously as she ought. But she kicks the rock. Perhaps I'm just being slightly paranoid.

"What mess?"

"Well, the fact that all you seem to want is someone who really loves you. Someone who really cares and adores you. Someone who will really, truly love you forever, until the end of time."

"But that won't happen," I say quietly. Because I know it won't. I know it can't. "And I think I'm okay with that."

"Liar," she accuses, and she's right. Of course she's right, she knows me. She knows me better than I know myself. Damn me for imagining her like that. "You want to be loved, just like everyone else."

"But no one will love me forever," I reply, voice brimming with poetic justice. "Because I'm immortal. I can live forever. And they can't."

"But you're not immortal, dear," she chides, as though I am only just a small child. "You're not immortal. One day, you will grow old and wither and die. One day soon, Mick, you will just cease to exist."

"But I won't." I smile slightly, feeling firm in my stance. "Because I love. And I believe that love is immortal. And I am love. I am in love, but I am not loved. I am immortal, and they are not."

"Why can't they be immortal with you?"

"Because to let them love me, I'd have to let them in. I'd have to open myself up." I roll my eyes. "And we all know, I can't do that."

"Opened yourself up to that girl, didn't you? And she didn't love ya, did she, Mick-mick?"

"No," I whisper softly. "She didn't love me. She never loved me. She could-" my voice catches in my throat. "She could never lover me."

"So what makes you think I could?" Her voice is filled with innocence and inquisition, much like you'd expect a college student's to be when asking a question of their professor. Brimming with the desire to learn, to know, to understand. It burns my ears, with its lies hidden as optimism. "Even if you laid yourself open, for all to see, no secrets, Mick-mick, what makes you think I could?"

"I don't know," I admit. "I just thought maybe you were worth trying for is all." I brush the hair out of my eyes. "The thing is, I think you're different than she is. I think you're different than any girl I've met. There's something about me that makes me want that."

"Oh?" she inquires, the same curious tone. "And what is that?"

"If I knew that…" I let my voice trail off. "The thing is, you're supposed to be a nice girl, see, she wasn't. You're supposed to be kind and conscientious. Not bitter and manipulative and cruel. She used me. You're not supposed to."

"But what makes you think I won't?" She tightens her grip on my hand and I wince as the pain pretends to hit me.

"Because you're different," I gasp out. "Because you could love me. You don't know me well enough to not."

"That's true."

"But here's the thing. It's because we started out different. It's because you don't get the chance to use me, like she did. It's because our entire relationship was about her needing me, but not in the ways I wanted." I sigh and stop to light and imaginary cigarette, because, the truth is, I don't really smoke. But she doesn't know that. She glares at me with impatience, and taps her non-existent foot. "You see, my dear, the thing is this. I didn't know I was in love with her until she was gone. No, I take that back."

"Why?"

"I take it back because it's not true." I blow some imaginary smoke rings into the dark. "See, I knew I was in love with her. I knew it because there was a time I was gone, and for the whole month, all I knew, all I could think about, was her. About her because I knew, I just knew, that she was in pain. And she needed me. And I needed to be there, because I loved her."

"Why does that sound so simple then?" I realize she's not gripping my hand anymore, not since I stopped to light my cigarette.

"Nothing is simple," I tell her arrogantly, as though I've got years more experience than she does. "You should know that by now." I give her a wry half smile. "Here's the thing. I loved her, I knew I loved her. But I didn't let myself admit it. And then, one February day, she was just gone again. Because I finally found it in me to walk away from her."

"Why'd you walk away from her?" she inquires. "I mean, if you loved her and all. It seems to me the last thing you'd want is to walk away from her. It seems to me you'd want to stay and fight for her. Hell for the both of you. For what you could be."

"I thought you'd say that," I remark, the arrogance still there. "But see, you haven't been listening. Aly didn't love me. She could never love me." I throw the cigarette like an arrow to the ground and in my mind's eyes, I can see the embers break off and scatter. "I thought I loved her, you know, platonically. I thought I loved her as a friend, protector, what have you. But in the end, I loved her as more. I know that now. But she didn't love me. Not romantically, not as a friend, not as anything. She didn't love me. At all."

"But there must have been something that bound her to you," she demurs me. "I mean, for you to have been the one to walk away."

"Naturally," I answered, the calmness and arrogance in my voice starting to scare me. Because maybe I have it all figured out. But I don't, not really. "She was bound to me, by broken promises, and guilt, and need. She might not have loved me, but she needed me. She needed me when no one else still wanted her. Because, like a fool, I wanted her."

"So why'd you walk away?" She smiles mockingly. "If you wanted her."

"Because she didn't want me, and she hurt me. She used me. She made me feel pain, and I finally got it up that I had to walk away, ya know? I was almost grateful, just to be her friend." I smile whimsically. "But then I thought about… and I thought again."

"You know what, Mick-mick?" she says in a child's voice as she takes my hand again, giving it a tight squeeze. "I don't think you really loved her at all."

"You know what?" I reply, cocking my head. "I don't think I did either. But I thought I did. Doesn't that count for something?"

"Of course not. Everyone knows almost doesn't count. Just like the fact that you're here looking for me doesn't mean anything either. It doesn't count, Mickey-mick, it doesn't count unless you win."

"That's not true." I stop walking and look at her. "It counts that I'm here. It counts a whole hell of a lot."

"To you," she replies. "But it doesn't mean anything to me."

"But it should," I argue, peering over at her, when in reality, all I see is a line of trees and some students who belong her walking around their campus, not notice the one among them that's talking to a girl that exists but doesn't exist here, she's not standing by me. If I reached my hand over to run my fingers over her closely cropped hair, there wouldn't really be anything there but air. Not like that makes a difference. "It should matter. It should matter that I came so far you, to see if I could buy you a cup of coffee."

"Oh, Mick, that's where all your troubles start, don't they?" Her grin indicates that she's amused with something. "Coffee and girls. And you don't even drink coffee."

"That's right," I admit. "I don't like it. Really quite unhealthy, truthfully."

"But it's a cup of coffee, isn't it, Mick-a-rick?" she asks, and I wonder why I'm having her make up all these annoying nick names for me, because I really don't like her. And I realize my imaginary her is much more bitter and cynical and outright mean than she really is and I wonder why I make her that way. I don't know. I don't.

"A cup of coffee."

"A cup of coffee and a few hours wasted ranting about everything you can agree on, because Heaven knows, you can't disagree, not right away. And for a while, you're just incredibly happy with her, aren't you, Mick? And you're both happy and together in love. But then she smarts up, Mick, and she dumps you. For a women's studies major with bad teeth who spells women with a "y" and can't stand the mere thought of someone like you. Oh, Mickey-mick, it doesn't stop there. She's gotta string ya along and make you feel as much pain as she can, because you know what, she's just like her. Because no matter how much you thought she was different, Mick my mick, she's just like her. They're all just like her."

She reaches an imaginary hand out to stroke my cheek in an almost loving manner. I shut my eyes and relax into the touch like it's there. "But they all just want to break you, love, they just want to break you." She even giggles slightly. "And you don't even like coffee to begin with."

"It doesn't have to be that way." I shake my head firmly. "God damn it, it doesn't have to be that way."

"Oh but it does," she demurs. "It always has to be that way. Because you're not worth anything more. You're just not worth it."

"Why the hell not?" I yell. "Don't you get it? I came all this way for you! For you, I came this far, across the state line. Speeding like hell, and not wearing a seatbelt." My eyes seek the ground. "But I'd do it again."

"Oh, sweetie, be honest with yourself for once," she lets loose in exasperation. "Why don't you admit why you really came?" She slips her finger under my chin and kisses me slowly, letting sexuality flow between us. "You know why you came." I pull back, breathing hard.

"I came to find you," I say. "Because I thought maybe, just maybe, you were the one. Because I couldn't shake that feeling."

She shakes her head. "And what is it you think you love about me?"

"I love…" I take a deep breath and look away. "I love that you're everything she's not." I start walking again. "I love that you go to church on Sundays and write non-angsty poetry about life. That you agree with me about queer theory and politics, and you think of things even I don't. I love that you look at me like a human being and when you talk to me, you talk like I might actually understand someday. Or that maybe, you might understand. But the fact of the matter is, it will end up with one of us understanding."

She smiles sadly. "But you'll never understand."

"Like hell I won't," I snap.

"Yes, like hell!" She grabs me and pushes me against the wall, kissing me again, and I move my hand over her imaginary body, relaxing into a kiss that's not really happening. She bites my lip, trying to make me bleed. "Because you don't know me, you don't know what I am, who I am." She runs her hand down my cheek, making me cringe with her overt sexuality. "You don't know anything about me," she hisses in a coarse whisper. "I could be just like her."

"No," I gasp out, as an imaginary demon presses her body against mine. "No. Stop."

She kisses me again, her tongue in my mouth and I cry softly. "I'm not what you thought… you never knew me."

"You're not supposed to be this way."

"You don't know me," she repeats. "Just like you never knew her. You were a fool, Mick. And idiot who thought she could love. But she never could, you even thought she did, that it was her fucked up psyche that stopped her from saying it." She slaps me. "Stupid Mick, she didn't want to lie. To say she loved you would have been a lie. You know it, just like I do."

"Stop," I whisper.

"You didn't know anything, you're just some big, dumb butch and that's all you ever were to her. And you know it, too. And it's killing you. You've written her letters you'd like to send, but you won't. You can't, as a man. You and your stupid pride."

"No… it's not that. It's that she'd hurt me again. I won't let her hurt me."

"What if she's changed? Not that you'd know… you don't know her."

"Shut your mouth," I manage. "Shut your mouth."

She backs off a second and gives me the look she gave me earlier, a half-grin while she looks down her nose at me. Back then I thought it was mock-serious. And now I think she's ready to pounce.

And then there's the other girl- there's Aly- standing in front of me, six feet away, while the girl who was supposed to be everything she wasn't bites my neck. And they both exist- but they both aren't really here.

"Aly," I say into the darkness where I imagine her standing now.

"What, Mick?" she snaps.

"Here's the thing," I say and bite my lip. "I loved you."

"So?"

I shrug, raising my eyebrows, smiling slightly, a final sign of defeat and surrender to the imaginary person in front of me, the illusion of the girl I loved.

"I don't know," I whisper, bringing my eyes up form her feet to her face to look at her with the determination I had once. "I just thought you ought to know."

"Well now," the imaginary girl presses her body against me as the other illusion just walks away. "That was just stellar, wasn't it?"