I do not exist.
Well, I exist in my window. In my reflection, I am rosy-cheeked and bright-eyed. My hair is sunshine, not hay.
In reality, I am but a shadow of myself. The shadow she left behind.
I always told her that her name was beautiful. Why wouldn’t she let people use it?
“It’s a silly little name, Luna. It’s not meant to be used,” she would always say. But why would a name not be for using? If any name is not for using it is mine.
I think my mother was mad (but don’t tell my father). It’s as if she knew what I would become when she named me, or she made me come to pass. The children on the playground used to say it suited me.
Now they just walk past. But not too quickly. Never too quickly. For if they were too quick they might make a gust of wind and any gust of wind could blow
But not the girl in the window,
whom I may just watch until my eyes bleed. The girl in the window is beautiful. (Magdalene didn’t need to take any of my beauty with her. She already had too much.)
I don’t flinch when the rain beats her. It beats everything.
The stream down the middle of the street below. I imagine the rainwater running over my bare feet.
The tired burgundy leaves reaching for me like claws.
The pavement that will later become dazzling in the sunlight.
Windows and trees and cars and stars. It doesn’t usually reach the stars. I’ve only ever seen it reach the stars one other time.
Maybe if I blow hard enough, it will fly away and never have happened.
I pull warm, musty bedroom air shakily through my dry mouth. It tickles my nostrils and my tongue. I carefully ground my toes on the floorboards. Then I exhale, with my whole body. The speckled glass freezes over into crystals of ice, spreading, spreading, spreading. It covers her face.
Nothing can touch me.
And she comes back.
It was worth a try.
My little eyes wander to the street instead. Everything is beautiful in the rain. Even me. I can see the place. The specific cracked sidewalk panels on Glentworth Way that ruined my life.
I fell in love with Magdalene last autumn (but don’t tell her). She sat in front of me in my English class. I knew I was doomed from the moment she first caught me looking at her. But how could I ever help myself? Melted caramel skin and a face covered in gingerbread splatter and hickory sheets of hair tickling her shoulders. That fateful day last September (twenty-third)... she turned around and she did something no one ever did for me.
When I say smiled, I mean shone. Her eyes crinkled around the edges ever so slightly and her thin little coral lips tugged toward her faint cheekbones.
And then that day in the stairwell. It wasn’t a coincidence. Of all the people who could’ve walked the east stairwell at 12:03 on November seventh, Luna Maisy and Magdalene Warner did. (This is why I believe in fate.)
Because we were meant to crash
I would never be the same.
At the third-floor landing, she turned and looked at me. She had bravery in her eyes so I didn’t have to. Any thought of stopping myself from saying something stupid talking to her ran away in fear of her gaze. My heartbeat went from running horse hooves to one of the ballads I had already written her.
“Why are you always looking at me?”
In her eyes, I saw no judgement. Only curiosity. Kindness. Kinship.
So I answered honestly.
“Because you’re magnificent.”
How ironic that the best day of my life was a catalyst for the worst. Does real life actually work that way?
Just like that, like two cosmic, passionate, rainy, beautiful, floral magnets…
… we collided.
Our bodies melded into one. The walls fell away. We fell through the floor. The world ceased to exist. The air turned to starlight.
I already felt this rain.
And we never stopped colliding.
Until we did.
We had popcorn and raindrops and laughter and chocolate and midnight sidewalks and teasing and kisses and legs and blanket forts and French braids and roses…
everything imagination could conjure.
That’s what we were. Can you believe it?
We’ll have that again. We never stopped. Magdalene is behind me right now. I feel honey dripping down my back, warm and thick and golden. I never stopped feeling that. I never will.
Nothing is ever like I am when I am with her and nothing is ever like her.
Am I angry? What does anger feel like?
On the night of June twenty-eighth, we built our blanket fort again. We spent the dark hours swathed in heaven and sunset and watched our movie again. (I’ll never watch it again.) We walked home in the rain. Glentworth Way was rarely so beautiful.
But not like Magdalene. Magdalene was b e a u t i f u l.
The maples wept over our wings and the moon was jealous of its namesake. The wooden arches reminisced and the heavens sang.
But it all stopped -
“I love you”
- when Magdalene stopped.
Because three words were the biggest mistake of my life.
And the same three words can’t pull themselves together enough to solve the dilemma that is Magdalene.
So instead they live in the skin of my lonely little lips
And maybe my hair is too much like hay
Or my skin is too much of a husk
Or my life turns out to be unwanted anyway
Or it’s too much of a risk
When I could be blown away all too easily
That every day when I throw pebbles at her bedroom window
(Because she’s magnificent)
She throws them back and strikes me down
One crack in my river at a time
So as the girl in my window lives every day for the girl in hers, I die every night as her Glentworth Way screams echo in my restless eyes.