FEATURE

It was the little things I noticed. The curve of an eyebrow, the twitch of a lip, the sparkle in her eyes. It caught my attention, it caught me off guard. It left me breathless and staring and desperate. It left me wanting to say something, but unable to. It was her features that got me to notice her.

She was so quiet, everywhere. It was hard to catch her smile. I liked to make her smile, even if I never said anything to her. You know, little things. It was the little things that made her smile.

I caught her crying once, when we were alone. I don't think she knew I was there. I think she was trying to hide it, because she only cried when no one else was around. She was sitting alone, on the bench, under the willow tree just outside. I sat down next to her and put an arm around her shoulders.

I noticed the curve of her back, the way her hair moved in the wind, the way it smelled, like the ocean, or a breeze. She had looked up at me then, into my eyes. And she smiled.

"I'm sorry," I told her, my first words to her. It was nothing I had done. But I still felt sorry. It was the middle of spring, and I noticed little white petals drifting slowly to the ground around us from the pear trees. I noticed the branches of the willow tree made noises as they moved, not unlike waves on a beach. We sat there in silence for a while, my arm around her.

I passed her in the hallways uncountable times. I noticed the way her knees bent when she walked, the way her arms curved around her books, the shape of her fingers. I think she liked that I paid attention to her. No one else did.

Above all else I noticed the way she carried herself. Not confidently, but low, like she wanted to hide. I felt she had nothing to hide, but I could never bring myself to say it.

She used to talk to me. She used to talk all the time. I remember once when we were little, on the playground, in kindergarten. We were sitting on the swings and she was talking, for so, so long, about her new kitten. I noticed then how she pushed her hair behind her ear every time she began to speak. She still did that, years later. I noticed the way her mouth moved, how there seemed to be a smile at the end of every sentence.

Years later those smiles had gone, and I missed them. I missed how she used to smile. Her eyes, soft, blue eyes, deep like the ocean, were also just as lonely and dark. I noticed this. They used to shine. They used to be filled with light. Then they were empty. Most of the time.

I noticed how she stuck out, but fit in all at once. No one noticed her, no one talked to her. I wanted to. But I just couldn't. Maybe if I had, things would be different now. Maybe I wouldn't be crouched on the ground...holding some flowers...the little white ones she used to like.

Maybe they wouldn't have found her...like she was. I saw the pictures in the newspaper..I wish I hadn't...

Then the only thing I noticed was the red, the deep red that clutched at me, turning me cold inside, breaking down my wall, breaking down my heart. The dark ocean of red that pooled all around her, and the evil glimmer of the revolver, clutched desperately in her hand.