Her mother told her never to wash her hair with the lights on. So she learned to navigate the cold tile (5 steps), the worn-down bathmat (remove clothes, untie hair), the metal divider (over, not on), the invisible tap (left hot right cold middle neutral). She would lean her head back and wait for wet hands to caress her - tentative at first, then aggressive. Cool and then hot. A monotonous invasion, an accustomed rape. In sepia.
No one thought to talk to her at school. Her large black eyes and small mouth were devoid of the warmth that illicits conversation. She was too still, too clean. Her dark hair fell to her waist in an angry rush of curls. She never spoke. And so she was never spoken to.
Sitting alone in open spaces. Enclosed on all sides by water or grass or sand or sky. It never occurred to her that she was alone, or that she lacked something. When she closed her eyes, she could smell salt, taste dirt, feel gravel, hear nothing. She was almost happy.
He watched her leaning her head against the pillar. It was only a little bigger than she was - small hands, small walls. She was staring out into the night. He couldn't have known she was waiting for water. He couldn't understand what she could possible have made out in the blackness. He counted the cigarette butts at her feet, five six seven. Eight. She methodically pulled another stick from the pack in her back pocket every time she finished one. Her lighter was orange. The vibrancy of it surprised him. It was like seeing a clown at a funeral. She hadn't adjusted the flame - it cast light on her shadows. Her eyes were black. Almost brown. He wondered what it would feel like to kiss her.
She got home late. Her head hurt from all the nicotine. And from staring out into the dark. Her mother was asleep on the couch. She looked dead. Her room was cool - she had left the window open. The wind had blown out all the candles on her desk. Knocked all her books open on the floor. Her hair smelt like smoke. She walked to the bathroom and turned the light out.