A/N: Thanks to all who reviewed this before!!! I had to re-post 'cause I discovered I'd left out BIG CHUNKS when t'was previously uploaded!!! SORRY!!!! Here is the full version!!!
The Last Beautiful Girl
She left her relationships like she left her contracts at work. Six months. Three weeks. Twelve days. She just couldn't be tied down....
She moved through the cities, leaving a trail of heartbreak wherever she went. She never engaged in one-night stands; too colloquial, she thought...too mundane. She wasn't afraid of commitment...her longest relationship had been for two years...but it desecrated to the point of no reconstruction...it was still a mystery to the both of them as to why it never worked out. They'd been happy- everything was fine....than one day, she just left. No looking back.
He was shocked- everything had been going so well. He'd come home and she was gone- with just a cell number attached to the fridge with a magnet. He called it, and rage poured out---she'd listened calmly, then insisted the spilt was for the best; talking him down until he finally agreed with her.
'No tears'. This was her motto. She told you this when she started with you. She had a short list: 1. No tears 2. No fears 3. No regrets...so begin. You had to promise that you would abide by her three rules...it was better in the long-run for the both of you, anyways.
Hit the middle of the relationship- things are fine...a bit on the mundane side, but enough of it that's easily handled. She's already starting to feel hints of restlessness. You feel it in her body when you hug her...see it in her face as she smiles. Hear it in her laughter. And you try and forestall it. Its inevitable. You both knew this going in...it still cuts like a thousand knives when she hits you with it...the relationship has got to end- and remember, it's better for the both of you. She promises.
She knows all the words you never say...the crumpled-up promises of the broken-down men...she's heard it all before a million times over. Her sad eyes reflect a longing...a wish to finally be able to stay in a relationship. It's clear she's sick of starting relationships and having yet another one follow her as she goes through her life - ghosts that haunt her as she walks down the street.
Why does she continue to leave people? Even she doesn't fully know why. She'll say its the 'restless' feeling she can't shake- much as she'd want to...but that's not it. It's her destiny to walk alone- the Last Beautiful Girl can never be captured; held down; bound to someone....
She is the spirit of the broken heart...the lonley one...the Wanderer in the mists of life....cursed to search unfulfilled for eternity. This is her path - and she trods it with arms wide open.
It was spring; mid-May, and she was laughing. Sitting in a coffee shop in downtown Toronto, she was in the midst of conversation with a guy whom she'd just met. He'd literally bumped into her while she was making her coffee, and his genuine distress intrigued her. He'd insisted she let him buy her another cup, and having accepted his offer, she invited him to sit with her. They'd grabbed the last table by the window in the entire place, since it was just going on 12:30 in the afternoon, and everybody was coming in to get their caffeine fix. With the place buzzing, they started a quiet conversation and got to know each other a little over warm Hazelnut-Vanilla Decaf.
His name was Jake, and he was a twenty-three year old brunette with the most amazing green eyes she'd ever seen. Not being the sort who went for someone based purely on their looks, what she found most interesting about Jake was his choice to major in Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence at U of T's St. George Campus. She liked things like that- the whole concept of A. I. fascinated her. They talked about everything from the latest movie releases to Impressionist Paintings, and as the sun's shadow's lengthened to grayness, they left the shop together - unwilling to part from each other's company.
You wouldn't call it an instant attraction, but there was definitely something there. Over the course of the following weeks, they got together for movies, dinners, and just good conversation. Being that they spent so much time together, she was not surprised when the relationship just evolved and they were 'together'. She was happy - as anyone would be, and made an effort to make it work out between them, because in all honesty, she was thrilled to be with Jake.
Their four-month anniversary was next week, and she couldn't shake the feeling. Things were great. Jake was great; one of the better ones that she'd been with in a long time, but that feeling was coming back again. She was starting to feel restricted; bored. She liked Jake a great deal - you could even call it 'love' - but all the same, her mind was starting to put up its bricks.
He didn't even see it coming; they rarely did. She'd hit you with it out of nowhere, and leave you stunned. She was over at Jake's place- he was making dinner - and they were going to have a nice evening watching a movie and a 'snuggle-session'. He was a very lovable guy - when his friends would try to set him up, he'd kindly remind them he was 'taken', and they'd shake their heads-plaguing him with stories about how much he was missing. Jake just laughed it off - he didn't need anyone else; he had her.
Her mind was twisting in turmoil - after all, it was their anniversary next week...but then again, what better time than now to cut her losses and end it before they reached the four-month-milestone? In the end, it wouldn't really matter, since she'd keep the memory forever - she was about to create another ghost.
Memories flooded her brain as she walked down the dark street on her way home. Fragments of the scene replayed themselves in her mind- like a movie reel that was missing a few frames. She'd told Jake that she wanted out, keeping a stoic face while her heart was pounding so hard; the effort to remain detached from the situation nearly killing her. Jake wasn't like the other ones- he had kept silent, right until the very end of her statement. Others had cut her off- desperate to change a mind that was already made up. Her stubbornness was her gift and her curse, and was oft the demise of a many a futile dream. She would stand there and watch as her ideals re-shaped themselves, morphing into a completely different idiom, while she was unable to hold onto any of them. She'd learned to adapt to this, and had incorporated it into her being, so it was now a natural response when her world fell away.
The apartment was a mish-mash of styles - you could even call it 'eclectic'. Pale blue walls housed Bohemian-style furniture; pillows engulfed the floor, a blanket thrown over the chair. The white table stood on sturdy round legs- its surface neatly cluttered with placemats, newspapers, and a neglected cup of coffee. The tiled floor sparkled - its grime due more to age rather than a lack of cleanliness. The hum of the space was quietly interrupted by the sounds of The Postal Service's 'The District Sleeps Alone Tonight'. A big window in the living room bathed the space in late-afternoon sunlight, the rays kissing everything with a soft glow. The cream carpet hid its age within its softness while the couch waited expectantly.
Walking softly down the narrow hallway, she went into the kitchen and the sounds of coffee being made embraced the music. Finding her favorite position on the couch, she nursed her steaming drink, opened the book and began her journey into her imagination.
A frantic knock on the door repeated for the third time. Snatched from her dreamscapes, she quickly made her way to the door. It was Jake and from what she could see, he hadn't slept for quite some time, and his green eyes burned with tears.
"You promised", she said to the tense air, her voice carefully emotionless as they both sat on the couch. After three hours of emotional venting, Jake just gave up; his green eyes had lost their sparkle and were now merely a dull reflection of his state of disbelief. She placed her hands on his shoulders, then bent and kissed him on the forehead and withdrew, her mind subconsciously pulling her to the door...but he grabbed her arms instinctively- as if this small action could reverse the irreversible.
"Jake, you've gotta go...its over." she said, coming across the room with his coat- which had been discarded at the door in his burning rage. He met her a few feet away from the door, took his coat, and walked past, silent. At the door, he turned back, looked at her with those eyes that melted her soul to a soft flame, and closed the space between them with a final kiss on the cheek.
She heard his footsteps fading down the carpeted hallway, and then the first tear fell.
One year, a new job, and two ghosts later, she found she still couldn't erase the image of those eyes. His eyes. Jake's eyes. Despite her best efforts, she found herself looking for him as she walked the busy downtown streets, peering into coffee shops on the Danforth. She still believed that she was better-off alone, but now, her doubts were overcoming her determination. She'd broken her rule with Jake- she'd cried over him.
Middle of April and she was walking. Her office had had a party that afternoon, and she left early protesting that, since it was Friday, she wanted to get a jump-start on her paper that was due Tuesday. Unwillingly, they'd said good-bye (she was one of the ones who kept the party afloat with her dry comments and her playfully-suggestive leers at the copy guy).
The wind blew her light-brown hair around her face, creating an unwilling mask. She pulled her navy scarf more snugly around her neck, her black leather jacket catching the warm rays of the late-afternoon sun as she walked towards the coffee shop. Setting her bag down and settling in to her novel, she sipped her Vanilla-Hazelnut Decaf and let herself unwind from a long week of work.
"Can I buy you another cup?" the voice broke her trance. She couldn't remember how long she'd been reading, her brain snapping back to reality as the familiar voice hung in the air. Looking up, she saw that half-smile and those sparkling eyes - it was Jake. Finding herself at a loss for words, she just nodded and smiled, and he left, taking his place in the short line at the counter.
A feeling of joy rushed through her veins...she hadn't realized how much she'd missed him. Was this fate? Had she changed? Sitting across from Jake once again, she found she didn't want to run- she was finally content to stay. It was long dusk, and Jake was gathering his things, getting ready to leave. They'd spent the last few hours contently conversing and all she could think about was that she didn't want him to leave without her. Should she tell him this?
Her fears were dispelled and she just smiled as Jake turned at the door, waiting for her. Walking along the dark streets together, she knew that she wouldn't run - she'd left that part of herself behind in the coffee shop. Every step carried her further away from the coffee shop and her fears. She left it all behind, finally able to abandon her abandonment. A ghost herself no longer, she found peace within and was able to purge the rest to ash and light a new flame.