She’s not the first person you notice when you walk into the room, but by the time you do, she expects it. Her skirt is too short, yet she’s curled up somewhere, her arms wrapped around her bare legs. There are a couple of people standing around her. They’re not congregating around her per se, in fact, she’s actually on her phone. There’s a drink in her hand, it matches yours. Her lips are painted dark, they’re leaving stains on the red wine glass in her hand.
Her eyes are made up too. Big eyes, dark lips. You watch her flip her short hair. Everything about her is small, you decide – she’s her hair, her skirt. She’s short. Petite. Eventually you hear her voice. She speaks too loudly, she swears far too much. You’re intrigued. You walk over, start a conversation. She’s liberal and opinionated; intelligent and successful. She makes jokes at your expense, she’s borderline mean.
You have things in common, but she focuses on the differences, the disagreements. “I hate water sports,” she says, after you tell her you captained your university rowing team. She doesn’t want to flatter you into thinking you have a chance. You can tell from her eyes she’s interested, though. She leaves without ever saying goodbye.
She asks you out within the next few days.
You find yourself dazzled by her. She speaks about her passions, you’re excited by the fact that she is so excited by things, people, projects. She makes you feel at ease, admits things that seem extremely personal. She talks about her parents and her ex. It looks like she’s thrown herself into this, into you, in her entirety. She dived into the deep end. You’re flattered she chose you.
She seems so perfect. She’s different, she’s interesting, she’s independent, she’s definitely not like every other girl you’ve ever dated. So you’ll be different with her too. You kiss her ardently, you grab at hair clothes, you consume her. She’s independent, you think, but now she belongs to you.
Then one morning you wake up next to her. The make up comes off. You realize her nose is a little too big for her face. She has a weak chin. Her skin has blemishes you’d never noticed. You survey her body. Her thighs are flabbier than you had expected. There’s stubble on her legs. She wakes up, smiles. But the allure of that smile is waning, she is becoming a person, not an enchanted mirage. Suddenly she starts to expect you to answer her texts. She complains about the boring things that really bug her, not just broadly unpleasant opinions, no longer in hilarious quips.
Suddenly she’s annoyed with some person at work, or the fact that Flow is cancelled this evening and she has to take a Bikram class. You realize the personal stories she told you were all show, a way to distract you from the deep issues she never touched on. She’s surprisingly private and closed off. The honesty is flash, not substance. Her quirks stop seeming adorable. She can’t park, she’s messy, she drinks too much. She’s fucking irritating. It turns out she isn’t different from every other girl, she’s just better at pretending. You find yourself losing interest, you tell her you’d prefer to just be friends. She smiles over her cup of black coffee and tells you she’s very happy with that.
You suddenly wonder if she’d actually tapped out first, if you were never the one in control at all. If she used you. If you were taken for a ride. If she manipulated you. Is this how she operates? A whirlwind affair, followed by a period prolonged mild discomfort? Would she have ever ended it herself, you wonder? She’s never ended anything before, even though she goes through a lot of people. That’s not her modus operandi. You wonder if you should feel played.
The next girl you meet isn’t drinking, she has no makeup on. She twigs onto the things you have in common. “I love The Big Bang Theory too!” she exclaims. The next girl doesn’t like short skirts, they’re not practical, are they? She’s nice, she has no demons in the back pocket of her comfortable jeans. She kisses you warmly, receptively. But you never have the urge to pick her up and throw her against a wall, like with her. The next girl’s the one you marry.
Sometimes you think back on her, wondering if she’s currently perched on a table at a party, arms hugging her bare knees to her chest, drawing a look from someone else, someone who isn’t you. You wonder if you should have tried harder, if you missed out on something beautiful. You’ll never know, she never goes back. She’s polite in encounters, but she’s never interested again. She moves on swiftly, she pulls all the same foolproof moves again and again. It all falls apart. She probably likes that, you think.
One day, you think, she’ll meet someone who breaks her.
You forget that she was broken long before you.
You forget that what she needs, is someone who fixes her. Someone who refuses to be dazzled by the façade, who traces the blemishes on her skin in the morning with his lips, who bitches about her flaky yoga timetable with her, and tidies her messes. And that won’t be you, because for him, she won’t ever seem perfect. She won’t be a comparison, a marker. She’ll simply be everything.