A Mutual Gift

The saying informs us to keep one’s friends close and enemies closer. She had one friend and one enemy. The latter lived one floor above her in the crazy brownstone they call home. On the other hand, the friend she had was great, the most loyal and caring ally for which one could hope. In short, she had everything. And yet there was a deep place in the recesses of her heart where she had nothing. It was a decent parallel, she supposed, to the friend and enemy balance.

She had no past. As if by design, she was an enigma. Faint mentions of a shade of a something, floating through the air like the phosphorescent cloud that it was colored in the details that could satisfy most curious minds. Her background in music and theater, dance and writing. How she was born in a better place but exiled. How she was born healthy but was taken down systematically, as if reduced to ashes. However, out of the ashes, a new person had risen like a phoenix. She was a person of the moment without much to hold her to any singular time or place. She was ageless. Young, very young, while older than expected.

Those who were accepting would be loved forever. They literally had no idea how much it touched her, running deeply into the seat of her soul that she was not an outsider among them. They had not even seen her, so she decided to finally show herself to them.
The elegant building, more art installation than brick and mortar, was crowded that night with men and women in fine dresses and suits hovering about, the tinkling of their champagne glasses mingling with the ubiquitous hum of conversation. At one table they sat, not expecting anyone who had not appeared on the guest list to join them. But then there was a brief break in the buzzing as they turned to see a lone figure walking away from the entrance and toward the tables. One of them murmured that the stranger’s dress was hauntingly familiar, the kind of question that lingers without resolution. It was a black skater minidress with a nearly open back, daring yet fitting the glamour of the night. The figure walked in smooth steps, nothing halting or hitching, causing the spectators to draw their eyes downwards to her feet, where one might expect to see a dramatic pair of stilettos. Instead, she wore a pair of soft leather flats in bright fuchsia. Turning toward the bar, she nodded slightly toward the watching table.

They began to talk at once, not unkindly but curiously. Where had they seen her before? Why was it that in her steady gaze, they imagined themselves looking into the eyes of someone so achingly familiar? What was it that drew them to her? They began to sense something calming, peaceful and enthusiastic in their midst, and there was no denying that it was because of her.

But like the phosphorescent light, she was gone.

She was undoubtedly satisfied with being so near, yet so far. It was a mutual gift. Were she made of flesh and bone instead of unfulfilled wishes, she could have joined them at the table. But she was not. She was formulated from heartbreak leading to a counterintuitive sort of freedom, the gleeful futility of someone with nothing left to lose. With nothing on the line, it was easy to enjoy.


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