Perhaps

And you see her again.

This time she's leaving. The school bell's about to ring, she's got her bag on her back while she pushes through the door.

You've seen her before, a few times. You've never really wondered about her; she just happens to be yet another anonymous student in a small-town school. There's something distinctly forgettable about her face.

She's scowling again.

The thought occurs to you that you've never seen a smile on her face.

She's fiddling with her headphones, pressing them harder into her ears. The volume is already turned up to maximum; you can hear a couple of screaming guitars and a frantic drum beat from where you stand but it still doesn't seem to be loud enough for her.

She flicks her dull brown hair out of her face; long emo bangs covering her dull brown eyes.

Then she's gone and you forget her again.

Two days later you pass her in the ground floor corridor. You're standing near your locker, wondering whether to go out into the rain or stay in. She's with a 'friend'. A scarily thin, short junior. What was her name? Oh, of course. Esther. She's pretty well known. They're talking together. Esther is exuberant, has a smile on her face. The other talks loudly, without smiling. You draw closer to the wall. Her eyes pass over you. Again. You haven't been sure if she'd been looking at you before, but now you are. It was just a casual glance. But a look.

They go back past you. This time she doesn't look your way.

It doesn't bother you. You turn back to your friends.

Next break you notice her in her usual place. She's always there, although this is the first time you've really noticed it. Near the canteen, where everyone else hangs out. There's several gangs she tags along with; they tolerate her. Mostly she's got her CD player blaring but even when she doesn't she's silent. Sometimes she tries to put a word into the conversation but is continually defeated by the way they ignore it. The only change happens when Esther gets bored of her senior friends. Something that happens less and less.

She's always alone now.

The bell rings and you leave school early.

It's a few days till you notice her again. This time she's in the same gang as the cute sophomore who's got a crush on you. It's a wet and windy day; her lank hair blows all over the place. Her head is tilted to one side, surveying the sky. Her mouth moves silently; song lyrics you presume.

She's unremarkably dressed; a black long-sleeved top, black miniskirt over the top of blue jeans stuffed into tall black boots. Much like any other teenager with gothic leanings.

Nothing to interest you.

But you wonder about her, in a few absent moment.

Her eyes are really quite nice, as you discover one day when she removes her glasses to wipe off the rain. She probably struggles with her weight; at the beginning of the year she was quite chubby, then grew alarmingly thin, then back to chubby.

All of this happens in in-between moments. Pauses in the whole busy plan of a teenager's chaotic life. You think about her no more than any other unknown stranger.

And she slips through your life leaving little traces of ever being there.

As you find when she fails to turn up on morning. When the rumors start to spread. When the dates of her funeral are announced.

She has no friends to go.

So perhaps you'll go instead. Perhaps you'll light a candle for her. Cross yourself and pray for her. Bow your head as the incense comes your way.

Or perhaps you won't even think of it. Perhaps you'll consider it but never get around to it. Perhaps you've never felt any curiosity about her.

Perhaps you didn't even see her at all.