Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Brown-Eyed Girl v. Blue Steel

Luna has exquisite taste. Truly. Her own way of dressing may be…eccentric, but she has an eye for fit and line and color. She’s very thorough. I tried on dress after dress after dress. Some of them looked like shapeless sacks on the rack, until they clung to my every curve. And hawk-eyed Luna raked over every inch of me, for rumples or pulls in the fabric, for poorly-stitched seams, for hemlines and necklines and frayed edges.

It was fascinating. She was in her element. The shopgirl would suggest something that would “suit my figure” (read, somehow give my short and skinny the illusion of height and curves), and Luna’s take one look and snap “too skimpy” or “she’ll look like she’s playing dress up” or “the color won’t suit.” She’d be right every time.

We settled on a demure but elegant midnight blue short dress. Luna said it’d make me look sweet and yet edgy. I guess she’d know. But it won’t call undue attention to me, since I’m just a lowly Sophomore and must know my place.

I asked Luna about her gown. It’s floor-length and a deep olive green, to set off her skin tone. It has clean flowing lines and folds and she’ll be wearing gold jewelry and eye shadow. Luna, she has this feel about her. Even when she’s wearing jeans and a t-shirt, when she walks by, your eye looks to her. There’s something that draws your eye in; a vitality or a confidence or a fascination. She plays it up.

I think that fascination is the basis of her friendship with Tucker. No doubt he takes pleasure in understanding her more than anyone else; knowing the deeper thoughts and dreams of someone so off-setting. Tucker likes to understand things.

Luna admitted as much. We were in the handicapped dressing room and the hooks and bench were littered with dresses. I met her eyes in the mirror. I tried to mend things with Tucker, tried to explain why he was weary of how she acted in front of other people. I added to it the things she said and the lines she re-used and the little captivating tricks she seemed to recycle.

“Or maybe,” she said, “he understands me now. I was interesting before he got the trick of me. Now that I’m predictable, he doesn’t need to stay near to have access to me. He can dream it up in that big brain of his, or take little doses when he feels like it.”

“Luna, no one has ever found you predictable. Unless they predict that you’ll do something unpredictable. And that wouldn’t explain his friendship with me. I’m very constant.”

“You’re good. You’re kind and…empathetic. You care. You’re a nurturer. It’s something you see less and less. The only way you can stay that way in a small town like this is by isolating yourself from it.”

“I know that’s not how you want to be viewed, though.”

She shrugged. “Public perception is fluid. Easily manipulated.”

I digested that in silence. The way she said it… “Luna, you’re not…jealous of me, are you? You don’t want to…” I paused, licked my lips, and changed my mind. “Tucker’s right. You do it deliberately. You make yourself seem untouchable and cool and wild. But he’s also wrong. You are all that, actually. But sometimes…you’re like me. You want to be kind, even though you’re ruthless in that little social politics game.”

“That’s ridiculous. And you’re naïve. The world’s not that simple and that didn’t even make sense.”

I shook my head in irritation, trying to grasp a concept just out of reach. “Luna, what are your morals? I mean, do you have a sense of honor? Where do you draw the line? How far can you go in ruining someone’s life before you’ve gone too far? If you see a nice girl crying in the bathroom, do you ever just want to…I don’t know. Help her, comfort her, defend her?”

She was silent. I leaned in, searching her blank eyes. They were deep blue--indisputably blue. But there was something...gray, gray as granite about them, like a layer of steel lay behind that mess of blue-pigmented mess of nerves and mush. Iron hard, and impenetrable past that layer. In that second, her eyes refocused. She blinked, turning her expression down, and somehow her eyes and her expression were closed, hard--like a shield. Like that layer of steel. I saw a muscle on her jaw tighten, and knew that her little moment of sharing was over. I had done something wrong, off, again, and I might suffer for it. Luna's social instincts were flawless. I was sure she could tell when to stop trusting someone. I had overstayed my welcome on insights into her character.


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