by Marcus Tan
This is a story about a girl. No, not a girl; the girl.
Let’s call her Abby.
Now, Abby, she’s the girl sitting next to you on a slow, boring day in the lecture hall, the same girl reading the Palahniuk novel in the seat in front of you during the long bus ride home. She’s the girl walking by your side on the pavement along the city street during rush hour, hustling and bustling together with you as you go about your day. The girl, Abby, she’s also the one sitting behind you in the movie theatre, eyes shrink-wrapped in tears from watching the sappy romance flick, palms clasped together as if in prayer. She’s the girl standing silently beside you in the lift that seems to take forever to get to the top floor, the same girl that waits patiently by the bus stop, her soul lost in the world of Tolkien.
Abby, the girl in the queue with you during a busy day at the bank, she reminds you of the cold, white winter. She reminds you of the perfectly carved snow slopes and ice-capped mountains that stretch on forever and ever, as far as your eyes can see. The girl, Abby, she’s standing across the street, coming and going in flashes between passing minivans and luxury cars. She’s wearing a floral dress, and her hair is pinned back into a tight bun. The same way she reminds you of the doves and sparrows that head north at the beginning of winter, she reminds you of the tall, bare trees that stand dead and calm in the forests that flank the streets during the cold months.
You look at Abby as she passes you by along the path home. Her hair is spun out of gold, catching the spark of the cold morning sun. She’s wearing a black tank top and an old pair of jeans that fit tightly. It’s neither her pale complexion nor her icy-blue eyes that remind you of the December months; it’s her allure – her ability to capture and to imprison.
Abby, she’s forever enigmatic and forever achingly beautiful. Abby, the girl who waits patiently by the counter of the clinic as you skim though old archives of political magazines, she paints in your mind pictures of the cold nights and the short days of December. She reminds you of the sterile glare of the winter sun blistering in the clear skies that know no bounds; she reminds you of the frozen lakes that come with the beauty of winter but never fail to leave a scar.
The girl, Abby, she’s waiting in line behind you for another go at the roller-coaster. She has hair of the deepest black, and she’s wearing a John Mayer t-shirt with denim shorts, eating cereal straight out of the box. The same way she reminds you of the falling snow that will never live to feel the warmth of the coming spring, she reminds you of the warm months ahead that will melt away the beauty of winter, drop by drop by drop. She is smiling, and she is achingly beautiful.
My girl, Abs her last name is Winters. You haven’t spoken to her before, but you don’t need to, for you already know her. You know that she loves animals, horses especially; you know that she dreams of becoming a vet one day. You know that she dreams of redeeming every right that animals have against man’s ideals. You’ve never stolen anything more than a glance of her, but already, you know that she’s a volunteer at a local pound. You know that she’s Vietnamese-American, and that she has a tattoo of a pair of roses on her hip.
Abby, the girl who drinks her coffee black, her favourite colour is ocean blue; her favourite band, Radiohead. She’s sitting at the back of the bus, slowly slipping away into a world that is more real to her than anything that yours has to offer. Today, her hair is a deep shade of brown, and she’s wearing a navy blue hoodie with the same pair of old jeans. She is achingly beautiful.
Abby, the girl going through a pile of books at the library you frequent, she doesn’t engage exclusively, nor eat excessively. She practices yoga, and she meditates to the songs of whales. You’ve never heard her voice, but already, you know that she softens her vowels and trails her words. She quotes Austen and Atwood, Frey and King. Her favourite book is Black Beauty; her favourite drink, the Pina Colada. Abby, the girl who lives across the street, she’s always there. Today, she’s wearing a white t-shirt under a black cardigan with black tights. Her eyes are cut bold, her smile completely and utterly breaking.
Now, Abby, she’s not just another naive girl, plain and ambitious. She’s not just another blow-up doll with a face and a name, not just another pseudo intellectual who preaches the philosophies of life and death without ever experiencing either. Of course, you’ve never seen her, but you know, anyway. Today, she’s sitting next to you on the train, eyes closed in the limber pull of sleep. She’s wearing a long sleeved shirt, and she is achingly beautiful. Abby, the girl, she breathes lightly, her bosom ebbing in and out. You can hear her lungs pulling and pushing, her heart pulsating subtly to the drone of the train.
Abby, the girl who never sleeps without a silent prayer of thanks to the Lord, she opens her eyes. Abby, the girl who tithes and offers, she opens her icy blue eyes. She sits up, and she cracks a faint smile as her eyes meet yours. The girl, Abby, she looks out the window, eyes closely following the lights that dance far into the backdrop.
The train comes to a stop. Abby, the girl who’s been a PETA advocate as far as she can remember, you know she’ll get off now. You know, for sure, she doesn’t drive, nor own her own apartment. You know she makes a mean Ceasar, and you know she doesn’t take ketchup, nor onion powder. You haven’t spoken to her, but already, you know everything.
My girl, Abs, she gets off the train. You know you’ll talk to her, now. You know, for sure, she’ll smile, for sure, she’ll say hello, for sure, she’ll laugh at all the jokes you make. Her laughter reminds you of a wet Sunday morning spent snug under the covers with a good read. She is wearing a long-sleeved shirt today, and she is achingly beautiful. You tap her shoulder. You know, for sure, she’ll smile. You know, for sure, she’ll return the hello, for sure, she’ll talk to you.
You see her for the first time.
She’ll say hello.
Abby, the girl with deep, dark hair, she is wearing a long-sleeved shirt, and she is achingly beautiful.
You talk to her.
Her eyes are icy blue, and they remind you of the snow and the ice and the cold.
For sure, she’ll laugh at your jokes.
The girl, Abby, she’s wearing a long-sleeved shirt, and she is achingly beautiful.
She reminds you of the winter months. She reminds you of the spring that promises to arrive but forever eludes. She reminds you of the frozen lakes and dead forests that scar the land.
The sun is bold and complete in the sky, shining down forever and ever and ever.
Abby, the brown-haired girl who eats organic peanut butter on gluten-free whole-grain bread, she speaks to you, softening her vowels and trailing her words.
Pardon me, but I think you’ve got the wrong person. I’m Chloe. You are?
I’m sorry, you say to Abby, putting your hands in your pocket; I mistook you for someone else.