Anyway I'm walking around and I spot this little girl at a table by herself. She's about my age (I can never tell how old people who are actually my age are); that she was sitting by herself was very curious. Just to get an idea of her I ask her about where she bought her vanilla ice-cream cone, it looked really refreshing (especially considering what a pleasant heat is swirling around this mall, constrasting with the cold, damp rainy day outside), I wanted to buy one too. I ask this from about her 8 o'clock, so her reply cleverly turns her to look into my eyes. She tilts her head askew and lifts a hand to point towards a little shop in the middle of the mall's atrium.
I turn to look in the direction of her outstretched hand. Indeed there is an ice-cream stall. That's useful information should I ever come back to this uniquely boring mall. I'm not sure why out of all the phantasmagoric and fantastic things I could dream up the backdrop is always so typical.
I ask her for a recommendation (why would I ask that of someone who buys such a plain flavor) but in scooting her chair out to walk me over to the stall she bumps roughly into me, the unexpected resistance of hitting my upper thigh with the back of the metal chair as she was shifting her balance sends her head falling from her distant, cold air square into my chest. My thigh is on fire (I'm not sure why she'd been so forceful with that chair!) but we're both in a position that two strangers find keenly awkward. But neither of us really flinch; actually it seemed opportune that we fall into each other like that rather than flying onto the floor, and though we don't move from that embrace for only a few seconds the passing time is exaggerated by my thumping chest; my thoughts are bleached white with some subtle understanding of her and suddenly it feels as though I know her better than I'm comfortable knowing a perfect stranger; her sudden silence tells me that she thinks the same. After the elapse of that small eon she formally spins around and at about 3 meters pace, facing me, introduces herself: "Charlotte". Fitting.
She's not so nearly distant as she had been earlier. That cold, distant girl is eclipsed by the girl now standing in front of me. We walk to that ice-cream stall and I get a single scoop of peach in a cone: that's deviance. I glance to my side while we're waiting in line together; she's a modest girl a few inches shorter than me: youthful blonde hair with two long, braided locks resting on either shoulder and making a modern contrast simply lying on the thin fabric her black hoodie, pulled up over her head and concealing all but those two yellow locks.
We talked for a very long time about things I can hardly remember, simply walking around that mall; I can only remember not getting caught up in the details: not asking the who, the where, the how, or even the why. Those silly things seemed irrelevant. Rather we focused on the so what, a question that makes a playful conversation and seems to strike closer to the heart of things and the heart of you more than any other line does. It was less "Where did you grow up?" and "What do you do?" and "Wonderful weather we're having, huh?" but more "What do you think about the Internet?" and "Do you like bitter or sweeter flavors?" and "Are things really happened more interesting than things that didn't?" I love questions like that.
The mall: the whole thing was three floors with expansive skylights. If you were to walk anywhere on the second or third floor (which we did a lot of), you'd run into small areas, breaks in the floor plan where some glass and railing had been erected to afford the lower floors a view of the sky above them which had now stopped pouring rain, though those gray overcast clouds still lingered. It must be miserable to be outside in the damp petrichor.
But inside, oh how warm and welcoming!
When we'd stop at one of those openings in the architecture we'd peer over the ledge at the shoppers below, running back and forth, irrevocably tangled in their little worlds of irrelevant complexity and minute gravity. I remarked something about this and she only laughed:
- "That's too true!"ww
Side-splitting laughter afforded by these people who take every little move, every second so seriously and with such gravity that they think any disturbance on their web which even threatens to loose it into the steady wind is so terrifying that such risk must be calculated, planned against and ultimately domesticated. To tame nature is not even the half of it, no, you want to tame other people! What a useless hobby.
Standing on that balcony with her hands folded on the faux-wood railing, arms covered to the wrists with that thin black fabric and looking down and with her golden hair messily blown back as if she had just been washed in the rain... When I looked at her in that moment all I could think of is the dark side of the moon, a forgotten half that I'm just beginning to understand. She reminds me a lot of me: maybe because she is?