A Valentine for a Girl Who May or May Not Exist Only In My Head

I saw a girl who looked just like you. Really — just the same.

I’ll set the scene for you. It was in the cafeteria, and she was sitting at that computer on the far right. At that school we used to go to, where I first saw you. I know, it’s like ancient history.

She had hair that perfect shade of brown. Just like yours. Glasses, too; you know I’m a sucker for glasses. She wore dress pants and a blazer some days, all serious business. Other times, those baggy jeans: the kind that are so ungirly that they wrap around the other end of the spectrum and become girly again. I’m not sure on the science of it.

So there we were, stuffed together into the same physical space, but that never does me much good, does it? I did try to close the distance, though, you know. I’d always snag the seat next to her if I could.

She may have thought I was a creep if she noticed. She’d probably be right. I’ll admit I got pretty familiar with her schedule too. Not that I meant to — just, I couldn’t help but notice that she always came in and left at around the same times. I got to look forward to it, and every time I’d say, “This will be the day. This will be the day that I say something.” I’d ask her if the seat is taken. That’s pretty innocuous. Or I’d ask something about the campus, maybe.

Sometimes I really thought I’d worked up the courage, but it was always those days when she had those giant headphones wrapped around her head and some horror movie clip from YouTube playing on the monitor, and her attention was not something I was grabbing without yelling, or without extreme gesticulating being involved.

And yeah, I know — But you really can’t stand horror movies, you’re saying.

Well, I figured I’d let that one slide. Nobody’s perfect, and it didn’t ruin the fantasy.

Hrm. “Fantasy.” That’s where the problem gets out of hand, I think. In the end, my imagination may have run away from me. How much can you really know about someone without ever speaking to her? But somehow that’s all it ever takes, and that’s where you came from. It would have been easier just to say hello, to strike up a conversation, to get to know her… but you know how I am.

The last day before the Christmas break, I finally buckled down. This had to be the day, because, “you never know if you’ll get another chance,” I told myself. “You’re going to go for it whether you like it or not. Just do it.” You’d have been proud. I put on my serious face and everything.

Of course, on that one day, she left early, before I could think of any smooth way of imposing myself. What a twist, right?

And I never did get another chance. You must have– I mean, she must have graduated, because I never saw her again.

I still sometimes catch myself saying it’s easier this way, to not risk the pain, the fear of putting myself out there. It’s not. Not in the long run. It’s less risky in the moment, I guess, but I’ll always wish I’d met the real girl rather than you.

I hope you’ll forgive me for saying that.


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