I know I shouldn’t stare but I just can’t help myself. It’s like when someone tells you not to turn around because something bad will happen to you if you do, and even though you might lose an eye or several teeth, you can’t help but to turn around and look. It’s human nature.
Except this girl doesn’t look fully human to me.
I see her every morning on the train into town with her hair in a sleek midnight bob which effortlessly frames her face. She reminds me of a china doll with her small hand-crafted features making my heart giddy. She doesn’t look at me even though I know she can see me from out the corner of her eye. I’m just another suit-wearing guy with far too much deodorant choking the air.
She turns away and huddles close to the door, peering out at the landscape which passes us by. We zoom past fields, nuclear gas stations, dual carriageways and huge clouds which seemingly dwarf the sky.
My heart yearns to scream out: Please look at me!
I hear her sigh as she glances at her watch wishing she was far away from here, fast-walking on the platform to her next train, speeding her way to work.
I need to pluck up the courage to speak to her, to ask her whether she wants to grab a coffee or something, although she doesn’t look like the coffee drinking type.
I need to do something so that she notices me.
The fall is completely accidental, I tell myself, yet my heart knows different. I feel her slight weight give beneath mine. She looks at me, her eyes like chocolate I could melt in. I mumble an apology and straighten up. She half-smiles, tells me its okay. I tell her it’s not okay and that I should have steadier feet. She laughs and says well that makes two of us.
I want to keep her talking so I ask where she’s heading. After a brief pause she divulges and I think I’m in.
We meet up a week later and her features have changed slightly; they’re still small and perfectly formed but she has prominent cheekbones now and a rounded chin. Up close, her skin appears dull like clay waiting to be glossed.
I lean in and kiss her cheek. She shifts beneath my touch.
‘Are you okay?’ I ask.
She nods and smiles although I can see a faint impression of my lips on her cheek. Sensing she knows what I see, she runs a quick hand over the surface. Once removed, there is no evidence that my lips were ever there.
I know then that my suspicions are correct.
Later, after we have visited the city’s biggest museums we head back to my place, except she’s still reluctant to be kissed again. As we turn onto my street I look at her beneath the sodium haze of the streetlamp and picture myself playing with her features. She could look like a new woman every day.
‘I know about your face,’ I say. ‘I know it’s made from clay. And that’s absolutely fine by me.’
I smile at her while she stands disbelieving. Then, without saying a word, she links her arm through mine as we mount the front steps.
‘I don’t think I’ve ever met a guy like you before,’ she says.
No you haven’t, I think. And you’ll be even more surprised when you find out I’m a sculptor.
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