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She Made Me Look Twice

<p>Mishell Hernandez on the myth in her mind.</p>

I first noticed her eyes. They were hazel. The browns were mahogany, the greens were a burnt emerald. Her eyes seemed to have been rendered by the hands of a goddess. Her skin was a soft gold as if bronzed by the sun. I could almost smell the Mediterranean Sea breeze in her presence. Her hair was short; a soft bed of chestnut curls. Her voice – cool, easy, low. Her eyes drew me in with their blasé attitude. I could tell she was not easily impressed by a shopgirl like me.

That afternoon she came in looking for a navy blue Vince parka. A fit of giggles consumed me as soon as I entered the back stockroom of the shop. I was stunned, bewitched. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the parka but she ended up getting something else instead. I pulled up her account with us at the till and noticed her profile was incomplete. I was on automatic. I convinced her to provide us with her address; I still had a job to do after all.

Unsure of what I was expecting, I asked her if she’d be back.

“Yeah, I’ll be around,” she responded coolly. There was a pause. Did she like me too or was I projecting?

“I’ll be here,” I said to her. Then just like that, she left. It was then that the panic began to sink in. What did I just give away? Was I too obvious? Wait a minute, where was this even coming from? It was safe to say that I didn’t tell my boyfriend about my day at work.

Only after she’d left did a co-worker strut toward me with his usual sass (dressed in a coy smile) and said “If you want to talk about anything, I’m here for you.”

My childhood friends had always joked that I liked girls but that day at work was the first time I’d ever actually considered it. Could I be? No. The furrowed brows and the five o’clock shadow of a man, the sweat of satisfaction, his broad shoulders and strong thighs. Men excite me too much.

Because of her I found myself standing in the middle of the sidewalk right outside of work. I looked left, then looked right, with a sense of urgency. Where was she? I didn’t feel silly. I felt stupid. Would I run after her to look deeply into her eyes and ask her to have lunch with me? The sounds of her breathy voice still reverberated in the hollows of my bones. I had to know her. Is this what men feel? I get it. Only this time I was not the prey and he was not the predator.

Fearful of rejection but still unhindered by it, I eventually sent her a message on Facebook. She responded to my messages and even accepted my friend request. She was classy and polite in her responses. Unsurprisingly, she turned me down for drinks thrice, after which I backed out because ‘busy’ means ‘no’ and ‘no’ means ‘no’. Plus, I’d already violated my professional code of conduct at work by contacting her without her consent.

Clicking through her photos revealed that she had a girlfriend. As far as I was concerned, I was pretty straight. Still, she perplexed me in a strange and familiar way. She had a je ne sais quoi that clawed through the raw walls of my chest. Is it possible that Eros begs us to be indiscriminate with our lovers? Is the privilege of an erotic encounter with another person based on the possibility of a genderless, sexless, collision of energies that converge – not because of – but in spite of the vessels we call ‘man’ and ‘woman’, ‘male’ and ‘female’?

With a few sighs spread out over months henceforth, I let her go. The libido that should have been with my boyfriend slowly returned as I got over her. I also unfriended her on Facebook and unfollowed her on Instagram. Maybe, just maybe, she wasn’t meant to be had. Awe-striking beauty like hers was perhaps best admired. Such electrifying enthrallment was perhaps best enjoyed as a sweet memory on a cool summer afternoon. She’s been a myth in my mind ever since.

Farrago's magazine cover - Edition Three 2021


Our final editions for the year are jam packed full of news, culture, photography, poetry, art, fiction and more...

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