I used to watch her from a distance.

Everything about her seemed to have an edge to it. She was the kind of person whose reflection was different at every angle, different with every way the light falls upon her. Sometimes I can't make up my mind about her; but then, sometimes, I completely understand who she was and who she is now. What I cannot find is myself. She doesn't look at me at all. It does not seem like I exist.

She'd be there, somewhere, on that corner. Sometimes she's everywhere. Sometimes I can't escape. I'd always be there, watching her. Only watching. Not hoping form what can never happen. I always see her smile at them.

She wasn't happy.

One day she was crying, her slender fingers covered her face as tears rained on the earth below. Maybe someone broke her heart. Or she was pissed. Maybe she was crying because it was the only thing left for her to do. Liquid diamonds clung to her lashes as someone far away from her felt her hot tears fall on their eyes. I turn away.

It was all different after that.

She looks at me now. Sometimes speaks to me. She sits beside me that afternoon. I feel her forearm brush mine. We laugh together.

I notice that she's getting paler everyday.

Nobody else sees it, and nobody asks why. I don't touch her. It feels like sacrilege. I wonder if she's happy now.

We always walk together now. Somehow it feels empty when she's not around. Or if she was around but she was with other people. I feel neglected. But I don't like it when she's with me either. Air supply seems limited as our mere proximity seems to crush my lungs and impede my veins. She smiles at me.

I want to touch her face.

Her hand is deathly pale. It was still exquisite, porcelain flesh, but I can see right through. Her hand was on the desk and I see the dark outline of the wood beneath it. I find that it doesn't scare me.

Sometimes she leaves me alone. She leans towards someone. I'd be left to watch in unspoken pain. She'd go back to me afterwards and tease me with her innocence. I am jealous. She owns me.

My paper heart crumbles.

She looks beautiful under the sun.

Her eyes shine like polished glass. I don't know if it was because of the sun, or something else. Let's go, Travis, she tells me. It's nice to be out in the world. She pulls me out from the cradle of the shadows. I can't look at her in the eye.

It feels like she's dissipating.

Her singing is fragile now. The weight of her head on my shoulder feels like fleeting clouds and silken wings. Her eyes are dulled, but she was still smiling. I don't attempt to pull her close, for fear of many things, like an unrealized reality, existing yet ignored.

I didn't see her the next day.

I called her name. She wasn't in the library. Or in the cafeteria. No one seems to know where she went. They think she's gone. I said sorry over and over again to no one in particular. Raindrops dance lazily on the roof. I walk alone.

I pass by drab white buildings and lonely trees in gaudy autumn on the way. Vague admissions scamper over each other in my blurry mind as I make my way towards something I can't name, only something that will never be.

Found her. Finally. I knew she won't go without telling. At least she owes me the knowledge. I see her in the stretch of green gray fields as she lay with her eyes closed on the grass. Raindrops turn into mist as it graces her skin.

Hailey, Hailey. I called her. You'll get sick. My eyes focus on her flesh, fading like the light around us. She raises her hand in a graceful sign, telling me that she does not want to go. Hailey opens her eyes and faces me. I don't turn away.

See that, Travis? She points upward. I've always wanted to know if that place was real. I yearned to clasp the remaining vestige of her hand.

Hailey…

She places her spindly index finger vertically across her lips, prompting me to listen to her again. Listen to the rain, she says.

I close my hand against hers. Time freezes.

I feel nothing on my palm. My paper heart stops.

She's gone.

fin