The wind bit at her neck and crawled up her legs, sneaking itself into those very places she did her best to cover. She fidgeted with the keys, eager for the warmth of her house. As she pulled off her jacket, she caught a whiff of menthol cigarettes and Victoria’s Secret perfume. Reminded of her night, she felt an aching in her chest. She was tired. She was lonely. She wanted someone to soothe the aching, to rub Vick’s on her chest, to warm her cold body, to fill the emptiness in her. There was Something Missing. As she took off her makeup, she looked in the mirror, watching pinky-orange skin turn translucent, revealing red bumps and dark purple circles. She had to look away from the mirror before tears escaped her eyes. When she looked down at the wipe, several eyelashes lay amidst the black and pink smears. She debated picking them off the wipe and making wishes but decided against it. This felt like cheating. Her phone buzzed once, twice, three times. She read text after text about their nights, their boyfriends, their loves. She replied with purple hearts and exclamation points, feeling the cold spread through her body. She dreamt about yellow daisies and soft rain and what was Missing, waking only to turn up the heat.
The snow melted. But the cold in her did not leave. As grass and flowers grew, she seemed to shrink and shrivel. The monotony of day-to-day life was becoming unbearable. Classes dragged on slowly. Breaks were worse. People gathered outside in pairs. There was the blue boy and the girl with honey hair. There was the couple with pink cheeks, and the one with silver eyes. She made her way over to a seat in the school garden. She noticed the lilac flowers bunched in a corner. One of them was growing slightly farther from the rest. It tilted its head towards the others, longing to be nearer. She turned and watched the silver eyes as they met each other, the pink cheeks as they turned red with lust, and the blue boy as he ran his hands through the honey hair.
She returned home with these pairs on her mind. Undressing, she examined her figure. Small body. Not quite small enough. She poked at her stomach and ran her hands lightly over her breasts. She wanted to blame this body for the Something Missing. But she knew it was not so. She knew her body was, in fact, the closest thing she had to the Something Missing. It was the thing connecting her to the array of aftershaves, broad chests, and muscled arms. But of these bodies she knew, none had pink cheeks or silver eyes. None were blue. And none would really be hers.
He bit at her neck and crawled his hands up her legs, sneaking himself into those very places she did her best to cover. This is fun, she told herself. As their bodies rocked, she dreamt of ice-cold lemonade and trips to Spain and someone to love. Afterward, he held her. His hand, warm from the heat of summer, traced her shoulder. She felt okay. Distracted. Good enough.
When the falling leaves settled, so did she. She did not think so much about the Something Missing. She spent time with the mountains and the books. She cooked mushrooms like her grandma had taught her and took long baths in warm, soapy water. She let him touch her in the places she had tried to cover. It was not quite it, but it was close enough.
Sometimes though, in moments of quiet desperation, of inexorable loneliness, she would look up at the autumn sky, suck in her breath, and watch the clouds—the shapes reminding her of someone that she knew but that she had not yet met. Feeling the cold pierce her heart, she would dig her nails deep into her chest trying to get rid of the ice. Only when she saw little drops of blood run down her stomach would she stop.
And then breathe. She would return. Sinking back into her routine, distracting herself with sweet, juicy plums and bright green nail polish, waiting for the next moment that the paleness of her skin, the loneliness of the lilac flower, the stillness of the night would catch her attention and remind her.
Ella Rosenblatt (Pitzer '23) is an Environmental Analysis major and English minor.