She was bewitching; she was exactly the type of girl you’d quote Pride and Prejudice on and mean it. With her hair clipped in a twist at the nape of her neck, she made ordering coffee seem ethereal. Her skirt even gave the impression that she was soaring and above us, the lowly peasants behind her groveling for our morning cup of Joe. I gave myself precisely two seconds before I abandoned my spot in line and followed her out into the crowd.
She was nowhere, but I saw her in the eyes of everyone that she must have passed. Hints of smiles, dazed eyes – she was that beautiful, and kind, I was sure of it. I could almost guess she was helping some old woman across the traffic walk.
I passed people that shoved back, and then turned to find the people who were marked by her delicacy. Eventually the trail ended all at once. People were disgusted by the ground; they looked the sky and then on to me with sore eyes. There were bitter police officers blocking off the sidewalk. A woman screamed by a stoplight, “I never even saw her!” No one comforted her. No one was left to make her feel better. Not one happy person was left.
I pushed past the blockade on the walkway, much to the dismay of several dutiful officers. Something felt horribly wrong, though I couldn’t explain it to the men who tried to keep me back.
When I think of it now, it’s always with a sense of regret. If I hadn’t been so enamored by her essence, would I have walked onto the scene that I did?
She was half under the wheel of some poor lady’s mini-van, the same hysterical woman who was sobbing on the police on the sidewalk. Her clip had unleashed the curl of her auburn hair, and it spread like the split coffee around her. Another dark stain dripped down her abdomen.
“Oh,” she whispered, and when she smiled it was bright red. “Oh, my. This is not…at all…how I imagined our first date.”
“Excuse me?” I bent down beside her. “I don’t – I don’t think I heard you right. I’m so sorry.”
“Why?” She was wheezing by this point. “You should…be thanking me. I…led you on the chase…of your life.”
“You knew I was following you?”
She shook her head, and I reached down to cradle her.
“I had hoped,” she gargled.
Paramedics rushed around us. She was forced out of my arms and disappeared in a sea of gauze and huge medical kits. I knew it wouldn’t matter, though. I’d seen the way her eyes had shone like she’d seen heaven. It was the way the rest of us looked when we caught a glimpse of her.
“I’ll follow you anywhere,” I vowed silently, and here I am in the funeral a week later.