She finds the note in a back of a library book, she finds it just when she needs it most.
She’s been alone for years. Her family didn’t understand her, her friends are gone, and nobody’s looked at her romantically for a long time. She feels unloved and unworthy and lonely and wrong. She’s not meant to be alone, but she never realized that until she was, and then it was too late. The only people she can go back to are the ones that can’t accept her for who she is.
But the note.
She finds it in the back of her favorite book, the one she’s saving up to buy a new copy of because her old one fell apart after over a decade of frequent reading. She finds it because she can’t go for more than a few weeks without saying hello to her old friends, the ones who’ve been with her longer than she can remember, the ones who taught her how to grow up.
She finds it because she doesn’t want the book to be over, so she keeps turning pages after the story ends.
And there it is, tucked snugly between the last two pages, tightly enough that it can’t fall out.
For a while she just looks at it, she thinks about it, she wonders who left it there, and then she starts to smile.
She heads towards the exit with the card tucked in her pocket, but she hesitates near the door. She wonders what she would have done if someone else had taken it before she found it. She wonders who else might need to hear this.
So she takes it to the copier, and she makes herself a copy, and then she tucks it back between the last two pages of the book that she’d set back on the shelf.
And she leaves with no less of a spring in her step and a smile on her face, her hand on the copy in her pocket the whole way home.
She likes color, she likes bright things and lovely things. She likes beautiful things above her or below her because so few people really think to look up or down without a reason and they feel like they’re all her own, her and the few special people who study all around them. And sometimes she points them out, because everybody deserves beautiful things and she doesn’t always want to keep the lovely things to herself. Sometimes she likes to share, to watch other people look in amazement and joy and wonder. Sometimes sharing the feeling makes it more vibrant, more consuming, makes it stay longer.
Today has been cold and rainy and the sky is still beautiful, but so many people look unhappy, and she wants to change it.
So when the rain stops, she leaves her umbrella up and she concentrates on the umbrella, she concentrates on beauty and color and amazing things.
She trails them behind her as she walks, balloons floating into the sky, and she watches people’s faces as they come out of her umbrella.
She doesn’t need to turn around to see the beauty in this, she can see it in other people”s eyes, widening in wonder and laughing at the brightness, and she smiles as bright as anyone watching.
If you meet her, they say, be careful. If you meet her there’s something wrong. If you meet her you’re mad. They say she’s only visible to the mad ones. They say she wants to lure you further down the path of insanity.
They’ll never know how wrong they are about her, because she doesn’t want to meet the ones that make up them, she doesn’t want to meet the ones who are normal.
She only wants to know the mad ones, and the special ones, and the brilliant ones, and the strange ones.
It’s not that no one else can see her, but no one else notices her. She doesn’t put herself out there for anyone she’s not interested in, and when she’s not trying to meet you, she’s not very noticable.
When she does want to meet you, you’ll never forget her.
One thing is true, that she is trying to lead them somewhere, though not in the ways they accuse her of. She just wants to help them find a place where they belong, a place where they’re happy. The strange and special ones who have no place in this world, the brilliant ones lost in their thoughts, the mad ones lost in their minds — she wants to lead them home, to help them find a home. She wants to be the light at the end of their tunnel, burning brightly as her father’s chariot in the sky.
So don’t fear her, if she introduces herself to you, don’t shrink away. Tell her about yourself, tell her about your mind, revel in her interest in you. And be sure to follow her, wherever she takes you, because you’ll be happier there than you ever have been before.
You’re sure he wasn’t there a moment ago. One second you’re squinting into the sunset over the cliff; you blink, and there’s a man standing there. He should be blocking the sun, positioned as he is, but you still have to squint into the radiance; it’s as if there’s nothing between you and the rays.
He smiles. You don’t know how you know this, backlit and far away as he is, but you do, in your bones. You know he is smiling at you. You know you amuse him, but it doesn’t bother you; you’re honored to be the cause of his amusement.
You want to watch him forever.
But you are human, and you cannot stare into the sun for long without blinking.
And when you blink, he is gone, and dark has come.
She writes herself love notes and leaves them all over, some where she’ll find them right away — on the bathroom mirror, on the fridge, in her bag, in her jacket pocket — and some of them hidden out of the way, where she’s likely to forget they exist before she finds them.
She buys herself flowers once a week, has them delivered to her every Wednesday at noon, wherever she is. The women in her office tease her about a secret admirer, and she just smiles and tells them they’re not so secret.
She gives herself compliments when she looks in the mirror, while she showers, while she gets dressed. “You’re beautiful,” she tells herself, and “I love your eyes,” and “Your legs are gorgeous,” and sometimes she gets silly and says things like “You’ve got the cutest belly-button,” or “I love your toes”.
She keeps a mirror by her door, and she kisses her reflection goodbye before she leaves the house.
She knows that people would laugh at her, if they knew, she knows that they would give her strange looks and think she’s self-centered, that she’s a narcissist for treating herself like she’d treat a lover.
She knows better. She remembers the years and years when she was terrible to herself, abusive and hateful, when she treated herself in ways she’d never treat another person, and she knows she’s barely begun to make up for it.
It doesn’t seem to matter how long you’ve walked or far you’ve gone. There’s always more road in front of you, stretching out farther than the eye can see. Sometimes you hit cities, sometimes you hit forks and have to pick a way, but you’ve yet to hit a dead end.
You’ve been very careful to avoid them, in fact.
They told you to wander your world for a year and a day. They told you you couldn’t walk the same road more than once, or stop moving for more than six hours a day. They never said you have to walk, but it seems right that way, though you’ll occasionally accept rides from people who offer, if they look interesting enough.
This is your price, because you had nothing to offer but your body.
Your feet are sore and tired and you’ve gone through three pairs of shoes already, and sometimes they bleed, but you don’t let it stop you.
You eat better now than you used to; someone took a liking to you, and you always seem to find a plant or a person willing to share when you get hungry, and no matter how much you drink you never run out of water. You sleep soundly when you rest, though never so soundly that you don’t hear your alarm warning you you’re running out of time, and you think you have them to thank for that as well.
You were afraid they’d wanted you to fail in the beginning, but you see now that you were wrong.
So you keep walking, you smile and shout thank you when you stumble into something you need, and you watch the roads unfold and you dream of the day you finish walking your world because you’ve earned your way into theirs.