"What do you think is beautiful?" she asked him, gazing out the window at the raindrops racing each other down the pane. She felt as though she were looking into an hourglass, water replacing sand. She could measure her time spent there by the beat of the storm and the run of the rain. But she didn't remember time at all, not when she was in his company. Not because it was romantic, but she found him fascinating. She had never met anyone like him before. That was really the problem. He was unique to her. And now he was furrowing his dark brows over his dark eyes as though he was examining her.
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"Beautiful, y'know. Like what do you think is beautiful?"
"Like...something about people?" he asked. She shrugged.
"It could be about people, if you want. I just mean in general."
He thought and she watched him with faraway eyes. She already knew her answer, but she waited for him to speak first.
"I think the sunset is beautiful. Which is totally cliche, but it just means I made it through another day. And it means I can just sit peacefully for a little bit. It reminds me that even the sun needs to take a break every once in a while." he said finally. "What about you?"
She paused and he waited. She shook her hair out of its clip and let it spill over her shoulder lazily. She wasn't sure if she wanted to look at him in the eye, and at least this way she could hide behind a curtain of blonde.
"Words," she said softly. "Nothing can make you feel things the way words can. I think words are beautiful."
"Like what kinds of words?"
"You know. Some people have a way of saying things and it just sounds impossibly beautiful. And it just makes you think...how do they see the world? What do they see when they look at anything? What...if I see the sky, some people see a limitation, some people see a navy net that just catches stars. Some people see a panel they can break off and give to their girlfriend or boyfriend because someone already lassoed the moon, but this is much broader so maybe it's better that Mary has the moon anyway. I want more than anything to know how people see the world. I already know how I see it when I look at things."
"What do you see when you look at me?" he asked.
She fixed him with a gaze that only dreamers have. "A faux cynic with a freckle on his Adam's apple that goes up and down when he talks, almost like it's dancing with the rhythm of your syllables. I see high cheekbones that cushion your eyes, which glass over when you're uninterested in a topic and become dismissive when you're talking to a lot of people. But they have a spark when you laugh, like a firecracker went off in you smiled and I just glimpsed the aftermath. I like to think it looks like a firework when it's in response to something I said. And pale skin that makes me wonder how you'd do during the summer when that sunset you love so much turns you as red as the horizon it bleeds on. And thick brown hair that doesn't want to settle anywhere, so instead it trails over your ears and sweeps across your forehead."
He shifted in his chair and she played with her hair. She offered a casual smile. "Why, what do you see when you look at me?"
"I see something beautiful," he answered.