Dreamed 1996/12/9 by Chris Wayan
I'm driving north along Skyline Ridge. My friend Mark's riding with me. We want to go down into the valley to the east, but the infrequent roads down all have signs "CLOSED DUE TO CONSTRUCTION." True, they needed fixing: hazardous switchbacks. But in the short run, we seem trapped. Finally I find one they've finished redoing, the very first. I recall it as the worst road in the county. Now the worst is the best!
A bright sign looms--COMMUNITY FAIR! The local church hosts an annual craft fair at this corner. Curious, I park, and jaywalk halfway across and wait on the traffic island under the signal. A lot of girls in their late teens collect on the island with me. They all look similar, though not uniformed. Mostly long loose skirts in bright colors. Parochial school, a women's college? Herds of them gather, blocking traffic now...
I try not to gawk at them... but they all stare at me. They see something! They whisper and argue while the light changes, then one girl says firmly "You need to come with us." They lead me to the church, into a bare back room not being used for the fair. They question me, poke at me. They're testing me for something...
I ask "Why me? What do you see?" And one tells me.
"You have the empty, wary eyes of certain skittish, rangy wild animals. Only humans who've been through terrible pain or betrayal have that look--drained, needing to rest and heal." Instantly I know the look she means. I last saw it in Kat's eyes. Beautiful haunting eyes, but scoured bare as a beach--after she'd been seduced by her own therapist. I only went out with her once; she didn't trust me. Or any man.
I look like that? I'm as damaged as Kat?
But this girl sees my shock, and tells me: "No, no, it's good you have empty eyes. You were full of yourself before, well, your self-image. Humans are. It got in your way. And your mental furniture was hand-me-downs--it wasn't really yours. Now you have room for new tools, new friends, new you. Empty is good. I know."
And I realize what they have in common is that they're all rather rangy and, well, furry, and maybe they wear those long loose wrap skirts because they want something comfortable to hide their tails under when they're passing for human, these school girls. These school girls whose own eyes are warm and whiteless, and scrupulously empty, like the eyes of the wild wary animals they are.
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