F I F T E E N

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She thought it a strange thing for her to be sitting side by side with a person. Audrey, no doubt the more assertive of the two, sat down in her usual window seat on the raised platform behind the middle doors. John, tonight's Tinder selection, periodically stole glances at her minding the sounds of the train. She was wearing a light dress with blue flower patterns and a white cardigan. Her hair was the color of autumn leaves. Today, she had it straightened and her long bangs pulled away from her forehead, which made her a bit self-conscious, as she kept swiping her fingernails across her face as she often did when there was actually hair in the way. 

She tossed a haughty, upturned eyebrow his direction when she caught him staring. "What's the big idea?" she feigned an irritated growl, though she couldn't hide that she was blushing; wondering if he was staring because she looked funny. No guy had ever asked her on an actual date date, after all. Not since Carson. But when you're together with someone so long, going someplace or doing something hardly feels like a date anymore. She was in completely new territory.

He gulped, quickly averting his embarrassed gaze. If only for a moment, her eyes got wide as she let her insecurity take hold of her. She sat back, now fidgeting in the dress she was convinced made her look goofy.

"Oh sorry, I didn't mean to stare," he finally said, wiping the curls up his forehead with his flat palm. "I was just thinking, well, you look really beautiful tonight." She put on what she assumed was what a polite smile looked like.

They went to a play going on in the theater. They sat down a few rows behind, directly in the center. There was a man and a woman onstage. The man was admiring her on a pedestal, as one admires a great sculpture. Her red lips were fixed in an innocent pout, pitiful and seductive. Her eyes were spring green, they pierced through the audience like lovely daggers. She gazed into the eyes of the sculptor, brooding and heavy with lament and burden. 

He loved her, as a sculptor loved his work. He loved looking at her. And that was the problem; they were looking at different things. The actors had a way of playing it in such a deliberately habitual, intentionally unintentional manner how they could not avoid attraction for the one thing both knew the other wouldn't give. Her, standing there with unabashedly honest eyes wading in his diffidence, his cowardice in his feckless running pupils. She chased a hiding spirit, wanting more than anything a freedom felt in the embrace of another creature's understanding. 

From his eyes, she sought permission to be more than a mass of pretty flesh, a beautiful object to be admired for awhile then put away and forgotten; but an unfortunate creature aware of its loathsome intellect, its tendency towards loneliness, starving without the meaningful presence of a conscious other. Her Creator was all there was, and without him to look at her, she would surely be lost. It was "love" she decided to call it, for she dared not venture to call it anything else.

He loved the product of his labor; the toil of his hands had drawn a magnificent reward. He loved what he had imagined and then set out to create. He marveled at every detail that he had painstakingly manifested in the dull clay slab, from which arose a sublime and monumental testament in its pure naked beauty. For his eyes, there was so much to consume, he could barely hold his attention in one place. 

He started with her elegant brow, so perfectly round, and then her narrow, delicate nose, fixed so fittingly well in the center her of face. To each side of it, her emerald green eyes were housed underneath sweeping eyelashes like black fans, descending lightly atop her cheeks, which sloped gracefully into her rosy lips and small chin. He admired her long neck, tracing it down to the small divot made by her clavicle, and below that, the small space between her breasts; how marvelously erotic her supple hips were the way she postured, with one leg folded over the other as she bashfully hid herself in her coy routine. It was "love" which drove him to lust for her. Yet, it was the way they looked at each other, which caused them to turn away in embarrassment and shame. They were most honest when they were naked.

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