The Angel

I open the door to the dining hall. The bright morning sun shines in through the windows and warms those who sit near them. There is only a dozen or so people around. I look to see if any of them is the angel, as I make my way down the steps. She is not here. I sigh silently to myself as I turn towards the cupboards. I grab a bowl and a spoon and move over to the cereals. I scoop corn flakes into my bowl and push the spoon underneath them, before moving over to the milk dispenser. Holding the bowl close under the tap, I push the handle down with the thumb of the same hand.

I turn around and find someone I know approaching. They greet me, and I reply with a simple "Hello". It's a reflex action at this early hour. My mind has not yet woken up. It'll probably be asleep until halfway through my first lecture. I scan the room for somewhere to sit. Where would the angel sit if she were here? I see a table in the second row, near the toasters, and smile a dreamy smile. That one. I walk over to it and sit down.

I poke at the corn flakes hesitantly. It's an odd mannerism, but one I can't give up. I take a spoonful and put it in my mouth. I don't really taste it. I just crunch on the dry cornflakes and let the milk wash around inside my mouth. It's the familiar feeling of crushed cornflakes and cold milk that eases me into the morning. No coffee for me. As I finish chewing, I swallow and gather the next spoonful. With a finger of my free hand I wipe a drop of milk off my lips. Then I take the next mouthful, and begin crunching again.

I hear the outside door swing open, and I look up. I always do in the morning. At least until the angel arrives. I blink, and suddenly my heart jumps. I watch the person who has just entered walk around the tables. It is the angel. My outer self remains completely composed while my insides seem to turn into marshmallow. Warm marshmallow, freshly toasted by a campfire. I feel bubbles tickling me. But I can only allow myself to look at her for a fraction of a second.

I look down at my bowl, and track her in my mind. I know she will pass by my chair in a few seconds. Three... Two... One... I casually look up, and she is exactly where my mind expects to find her. I smile slightly, and let my tongue clear my mouth of cornflakes. I greet her as casually as I can manage. "Hi," she says simply, and then she is gone.

On the surface, the exchange was very casual. In fact, I doubt she suspects there was any more to it than the obligatory mutual greeting. But there was more to it for me. I made eye contact with her for an instant. I noted her wide eyes, with beautiful brown irises. They strike me as wondering eyes that marvel at the world, and see everything without prejudice. Kind and caring eyes. Almost as innocent as a child's.

I smile gently as I feel the wind she creates as she walks around me. Everything seems to slow down. I like it that way. I feel my heartbeat, notice my breathing, and can hear singing birds outside. I just sit for a while, picturing her eyes in my head. I swallow my mouthful of cornflakes and shovel another spoonful in to replace it. The flakes are losing their crunch now. I turn to watch her as she walks towards the cupboard to get her bowl.

She walks with such precision. Letting subtly flattened hands move in unison with her feet. They move only slightly, almost undetectably. Yet unmistakably. I watch her buttocks rock pertly underneath the blue denim of her jeans. I blink and turn away, aware that I have been staring for almost two seconds. Far too long for shy little me. I shiver imperceptibly as I frame her walk in my head.

I wonder whether she will sit with me. I am alone at the table, and none of her other friends are here. I am hopeful, but at the same time doubtful. Sometimes she chooses to sit alone. Which is fair enough, I suppose. But it hurts me when I see she'd rather sit alone than sit with me.

It reminds me of the time she turned down my invitation to a concert. That hurt me more deeply than I'd care to admit. It wouldn't have been so bad if she had said "no" straight away. In fact, I might've left her alone if she had. But instead she accepted (eventually), and I almost collapsed with joy! When I was off the phone, I couldn't help grinning from ear to ear. I said the customary "YES!" with an enthusiastic swing of my closed fist. But then she called back. The tickets were twenty-five dollars. "Is that good or bad?" Bad, of course. She couldn't afford that. I accepted her apology graciously and told her that it was alright. That wasn't exactly the truth.

I am startled from my thoughts by a bowl across the table from me. The hand is the angel's. I glance up at her face and take a mental snapshot. Her eyes seem a little tired, and her expression seems laboured. But her face is still the same lovely face that it always is. Fresh and thoughtful. It is a full face that isn't hidden by her natural flow of shining brown hair.

Neither of us are in the mood for smalltalk, so we just sit there munching on our cereals. I avoid her eyes, because I don't want her to know about my strong need to look at her. I force myself to be content with a passing glance. My bowl is almost empty, and I try hard not to make a sound as I scoop up the excess milk with my spoon.

I love everything about her face. It is perfect to me. I especially like her nose. In profile, it is eloquent, with an adorable curl in the bridge. From the front it appears as a cute button. Either way it is the most attractive feature on her face. Better than her well-defined brows. Better than her mindful forehead. Better even than her thin and wide mouth that is so easily curled into a smile.

I take my bowl away and return with a glass of orange juice. She looks up at me before I sit down. Just a casual glance. If only she too were really looking at me, but hiding it in a casual expression. If only we were both playing games, hiding our secret adoration behind masks of indifference. It seems unlikely that she would. She would tell me straight out if she found me attractive. And it is that fact which makes her silence so hard to take.

I just enjoy sitting with her. Especially being next to her. But just sitting at the same table is enough. I like to listen to her, and hear what she has been doing. It is all interesting to me. She fascinates me. When she tells someone that she is making a super-short microskirt that she'll never wear, I listen (and grin widely, making sure that she can't see me). When she tells everyone about a "hot" guy she met the day before, I listen (and weep later when I'm alone).

When other people listen, they judge her unfairly. And then they might be so indelicate as to tell her. I generally hate it when people insult her, and I will say something about it being "cruel" or "unfair". But people will think I'm just being sarcastic, when I really truly mean it. And that's okay, because if they knew I really meant it, they'd know how much I respect her. And then I'd be the butt of the jokes (if I'm not already). And then there are the times, in the heat of the moment, when I join in. But it's only to gain acceptance. I never mean to hurt her. Although sometimes I know I do, and I feel absolutely terrible afterwards.

I have finished my orange juice now. And I look at my watch and see that I am running slightly late. I stand up slowly, and pluck up the courage to say "Bye." I try so hard not to sound regretful. But I always do. I lift my hand in a feeble gesture, and I avoid looking into her eyes. I find that I can't. Because I fear that perhaps I'll see her spirits lift at the thought of me leaving. Or at the very least her expression would be ridiculing my pathetic farewell.

I deposit my glass on a trolley as I slowly leave the dining hall. I walk up the steps and hold the door open, allowing someone to pass through. They thank me politely, and then continue on their way. I walk through the doorway and sigh, leaving the angel to finish her breakfast without my company.

As I make my way back to my room, I hold my hand to my heart and tell the angel that I love her. I try to picture her in my mind. But already the image is starting to fade, and I know I will have to see her again. I must refresh the image, before it loses its sharpness. I wish I had a picture of the angel. But this text is as close to a picture as I have.

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Exit: Make-Believe; Kasoft Typesetting; Archer

This work is a part of the Kasoft Typesetting storybook Make-Believe

Kasoft is a registered trademark of Kasoft Software, owned by Kade Hansson.

Copyright 1994,1996,1997 Kade "Archer" Hansson; e-mail: kasoft@kaserver5.org